» Clean Water Current Archive
October 4, 2013
Toilets Are Not Trash Cans!
NACWA Declares War to Protect Your Pipes, Pumps, and Plants
NACWA Executive Director, Ken Kirk, announced this week that the Association is stepping its efforts to protect the pipes, pumps, and plants at clean water agencies with a targeted initiative aimed at reducing the harmful materials that are flushed or drained into the sewer system. These products include wipes, pharmaceuticals, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, dental floss, FOG (fats, oils, and greases), as well as product additives such as triclosan.
NACWA will focus on changing consumer behavior and will be working collaboratively with its members and other groups to explore and maximize all advocacy and related avenues, including public education and media outreach as well as legislative, regulatory and legal efforts to ensure that manufacturers and consumers understand that toilets are not trash cans. NACWA will also be working with industry and retailers to improve labeling and product stewardship.
Wipes and other non-dispersible products have received tremendous media attention recently, including a multitude of newspaper articles and local television spots featuring NACWA and its member utilities (see www.nacwa.org/flushables for media links and other information). The Association will continue to directly address this expensive problem, building on the work that it has done in the past years with the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the American Public Works Association (APWA), and INDA (the association of the nonwoven fabrics industry) to improve flushability guidelines and product labeling with the “do not flush” logo as one strategy to keep these products out of the sewer system.
These efforts to protect pipes, pumps, and plants will be a key focus at upcoming NACWA meetings and members whose systems are being impacted by wipes or other products should contact Cynthia Finley at
to share their stories and become active in the NACWA working group on wipes and appropriate NACWA committees.
Public, Private Groups Join Forces on Infrastructure Investment, Value of Water
NACWA and eleven other water sector organizations and entities joined this week to launch a new campaign to inform Americans about the value of water and the challenges facing our water infrastructure. The campaign is anchored by the website www.thevalueofwater.org and aims to bridge the gap between the actual condition of our aging water infrastructure and public perception when it comes to this significant, yet often ‘out of sight, out of mind’ underground resource.
To bridge this gap, the Value of Water Campaign will leverage content-generation and social sharing. The website serves as the campaign’s hub, aggregating the latest news and information on water-related issues. This information is then distributed through social channels. New content will also be regularly distributed online through videos, infographics and Slideshare decks.
In a joint press release of the twelve organizations, NACWA’s Executive Director, Ken Kirk, noted that “[a]s the water sector continues to innovate and ensure its resiliency, so too are we looking to be innovative in the ways we communicate about how our work supports communities across the country. The greater the understanding of our nation’s aging infrastructure and what is required to maintain it, the more we will value water as a precious resource and take actions to protect it for future generations.”
The campaign was created by the Value of Water Coalition, which is comprised of American Water; the American Water Works Association (AWWA); the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA); CH2M HILL; MWH Global; NACWA; the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC); United Water; the U.S. Water Alliance; Veolia Water; the Water Environment Federation (WEF); and, Xylem Inc. This effort marks the first time such a broad coalition of water businesses and nonprofit associations has come together as a single voice. The Coalition unites public and private interests to address the current state of water infrastructure and the need for significant investment to keep system performance at the levels of quality and safety Americans have come to expect.
NACWA’s blog this week featured the Value of Water campaign. The Association also plans to work closely with its Member Agencies to provide new and compelling content for the website, as well as ensure that this important resource provides value to clean water agencies across the country.
Federal Shutdown in its Fourth Day; Impacts on Water Sector Grow
The Federal Government is in its fourth day of closure with most analysts unable to predict if it will reopen any time soon. Congressional leaders and President Obama are grasping for a path forward, but have been unable to coalesce around a single strategy. The shutdown has furloughed most federal employees, including most congressional staff and employees of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), other than those deemed essential, such as EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and a handful of others.
Specific implications of the shutdown on EPA-related programs and services include stoppages or suspensions of EPA rule-making activities, administrative appeals, new contracts or grants, some payments on existing contracts and grants, and EPA permitting review and approval for the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. The Agency is maintaining emergency preparedness and response functions for programs such as Superfund and leaking underground storage tanks.
Next week’s WEFTEC conference and exhibition in Chicago will also be impacted by the shutdown, with EPA and other federal representatives unable to participate, as most either on furlough or facing travel restrictions. NACWA’s Hot Topics Breakfast, presented jointly with WEF as part of the Utility Leaders Morning on Tuesday, October 8, will offer a robust and compelling discussion of critical issues – despite the government shutdown. NACWA knows that its Member Agencies continue their work 24-7, and the Association will continue its work to advance its clean water priorities. We look forward to seeing many of you next week in Chicago.
NACWA Voices Concerns over Nutrient Training for Permit Writers
NACWA raised significant concerns in a letter to EPA this week over the content of training materials used to instruct Clean Water Act permit writers on evaluating the need for, and establishing, numeric nutrient permit limits for clean water utilities. The September 30 letter expressed concern that EPA has abandoned its efforts to develop more formal guidance in favor of conducting training. The letter set out several general issues but also enumerated specific concerns with the presentation material that was used during a July 2013 training session for permit writers, which the Agency hopes will serve as a model for future workshops. EPA has expressed a willingness to discuss this issue and NACWA will set up a meeting as soon as the government shutdown is over.
Sharpen Your Advocacy Skills at NACWA’s Law Seminar
Learn how your utility can be more effective in its advocacy with EPA on key legal issues at NACWA’s 2013 National Clean Water Law Seminar. Scheduled for Nov. 20 – 22 in San Antonio, Tex., the Seminar will address a variety of current legal and regulatory issues that are critical for any clean water utility lawyer or manager to know.
One of the most interesting and valuable discussions at the conference will focus on how clean water agencies can best advocate their position with EPA and effectively influence the Agency’s legal decisions on important permitting and enforcement issues. An all-star group of former senior officials from EPA’s office of general counsel, program, enforcement, and regional offices will provide an “insider’s perspective” on how the Agency views key clean water legal issues, how decisions and policies at EPA are really made, and how clean water attorneys can best advocate for their utilities and clients to impact EPA outcomes.
Other topics to be covered at the Seminar include integrated planning, consent decrees, stormwater, key Clean Water Act cases from the past year, and wet weather developments. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits will be available, including ethics credits. Please visit NACWA’s website for more information on the Seminar, including an updated agenda. Make you plans now to join us in San Antonio!
NACWA Awards Recognize Your Environmental Achievements
NACWA is currently accepting nominations for its National Environmental Achievement Awards – in both the Member Agency and Individual categories. Member Agencies are invited to take this opportunity to recognize a local public official or board member that has made a significant impact on their agency, the environment, and/or their local community. Agencies also have the opportunity to submit applications that showcase their innovative projects and initiatives that promote water quality and environmental protection.
Applications are due Friday, October 18, 2013. Nomination forms and guidelines can be found on the NACWA website. Please contact
, Director, Membership Development, for additional information.
Unlock your Leadership Potential at the Water & Wastewater Leadership Center
The Water & Wastewater Leadership Center is the foremost executive management leadership program for the water sector. Held in conjunction with the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, this intensive 11-day program focuses on leadership development, strategic thinking, and effective management practices. The Leadership Center prepares utility executives with the management and leadership skills they need to meet the challenges of today’s water quality issues – and customers’ current and future demands with the highest level of service and efficiency. Key course elements include unlimited peer networking, a 360 degree personal leadership assessment, preparation of an individual action plan, and experiential learning through change management simulations.
The 2014 Water & Wastewater Leadership Center will be held March 9 – 21, 2014. Class sizes are limited to ensure an intimate and personalized learning environment so NACWA encourages early applications. Applications are due Friday, October 25, 2013. For additional information visit the NACWA website or contact Program Manager,