ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
NACWA had its own “infrastructure crisis” last week when the sewer lateral serving the National Office building partially collapsed and caused a basement backup. Luckily for the Association and its staff, the excellent folks from DC Water rode quickly the rescue!
In an example of the incredible work that all NACWA Member Agencies do on behalf of their customers every day, DC Water, had an evaluation team onsite within hours of the initial service call, and a full construction team onsite within 24 hours to dig up the lateral and replace it. All of the utility personnel were professional, courteous, and extremely efficient. Once they learned of NACWA’s interest in sewer issues, they even provided us with a copy of the original 1880 map and street drawing from the installation, along with a piece of the 135-year-old lateral for our “Wall of Fame!” See pictures below of all their hard work.
NACWA sends a special thanks to DC Water General Manager (and Association Board member) George Hawkins and his entire team for such a prompt, efficient, and excellent job! NACWA members are true public servants, providing environmental and public health services, as well as exceptional customer service. Thank you for all that you all do!
On March 28, NACWA joined a coalition amicus brief before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a legal case that could have a substantial impact on clean water utility liability under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The appeal in Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui involves a federal district court decision holding that a release of pollutants into groundwater that migrates to hydrologically-connected navigable waters violates the CWA.
NACWA’s brief highlights the lower court’s disregard for the threshold “point source” requirement of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The court erroneously imposed liability based on the migration of pollutants via groundwater, which is neither a Water of the United States nor a point source itself. NACWA joined the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties and the California Association of Sewerage Agencies, among others, in filing the joint brief.
The case deals with tertiary treated wastewater injected into Underground Injection Wells permitted under the Safe Drinking Water Act that migrates via groundwater to the Pacific Ocean. If upheld by the Ninth Circuit, the district court’s decision and its novel “conduit” theory will effectively rewrite the CWA by eliminating the distinction between point source discharges that require an NPDES permit and nonpoint source discharges that do not require a permit. As a result, NACWA members could be found in violation of the CWA for releases to groundwater as a result of exfiltration from collection systems and treatment facilities; surface water impoundments; and low impact development and other green infrastructure that retain, infiltrate, and percolate stormwater flows into groundwater. The decision could also subject clean water utilities to nebulous regulatory requirements and a new universe of citizen suits, which will likely have a negligible effect on water quality. A decision in the case is not expected until late 2016 at the earliest, and NACWA will report on any developments.
On March 31, NACWA collaborated with the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the WateReuse Association on a webcast to help National Water Policy Forum & Fly-In attendees prepare for their Capitol Hill visits. The webcast is posted in the Policy Forum’sCongressional Toolbox for review at your convenience. The webcast slides include helpful information regarding Congressional visits along with the top legislative asks for this year’s event.
A recent media article highlighted the efforts of one of NACWA’s newest Member Agencies, Grand Rapids, Michigan, to completely eliminate its combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The $400 million program, completed in 2015, involved separating the entire sanitary and storm sewer systems, and sealing off overflow points, beginning in 1991.
In 2006, the City also began an extensive green infrastructure program to control stormwater throughout the region and included green infrastructure in most of its CSO control projects in the subsequent years. The City is also a participant in EPA’s Green Infrastructure Portfolio Standard program, and through public and private investment, is now home to a number of rain gardens and other control measures.
The City of around 200,000 people was ranked first in the nation in the number of LEED certified buildings per capita and fifth overall in 2010, and received the moniker of “America’s Greenest City” from Fast Company in 2008. In a 2012 report by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, Grand Rapids was highlighted as a state revolving loan fund success story for its 99% reduction in CSOs.
Although Grand Rapids’ program was the result of a Long-Term Control Plan developed in 1988, before EPA had even issued its 1994 CSO guidance – much less its 2012 Integrated Planning memo – it is nonetheless an example of how NACWA members can achieve significant water quality benefits and lead through innovation and integrated planning. NACWA’s efforts to support integrated planning and new, innovative approaches to addressing wet weather issues have helped paved the way for communities to pursue similarly successful wet weather programs and match Grand Rapids’ achievements.
On Wednesday, March 30, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the question of whether jurisdictional determinations by the Army Corps of Engineers are subject to judicial review in US Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes. Don’t miss NACWA Deputy General Counsel Erica Spitzig’s Water Voice blog post sharing her thoughts on the lively discussion.
NACWA also hosted one of the attorneys for Hawkes Company on the March 16, 2016 Hot Topics in Clean Water Law Web Seminar. Members can access a recording of the presentation in the Hot Topics in Clean Water Lawarchive.
NACWA will be well represented on a utility of the future-focused delegation of U.S. water sector leaders attending Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), July 10 – 14, 2016. Six recipients have been selected to receive scholarships to the biannual event. The scholarship recipients include:
The delegation will be hosted by the Singapore Public Utility Board, and funded collaboratively by NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF). SIWW is a global platform for water professionals to share innovative solutions for integration of sustainable water management strategies with urban planning processes. Scholarship recipients will share the perspectives gained from their experiences upon their return. You can read more about SIWW at http://www.siww.com.sg.
The NACWA Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Workshop will be held May 18-20 in Long Beach, California. Three optional, day-long training sessions will be held prior to the Workshop on May 17:
These training sessions have received excellent reviews and have proven useful for both new and experienced pretreatment professionals. More information about the Workshop and training sessions is available on the conference webpage. Reservations should be made by Monday, April 25, at the Hilton Long Beach to receive the group rate of $179/night. Please contact Cynthia Finley for more information about the Workshop and training sessions.
Supreme Court Wrestles with CWA Jurisdictional Determinations
This week, NACWA staff had the opportunity to attend the Supreme Court’s oral arguments in Hawkes v. US Army Corps of Engineers. The case addresses the question of whether jurisdictional determinations by the Army Corps of Engineers are subject to judicial review. Don’t miss this NACWA Water Voice post on the lively discussion.
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