ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
February 28, 2014
NACWA Pushes to Retain Tax-Exempt Status of Muni Bonds
NACWA sent a letter to President Obama this week, urging that the Administration retain the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds in their FY 2015 budget request. Last year, the Administration requested that a 28-percent benefit cap be imposed on tax-exempt municipal bond interest for high income taxpayers. According to a report NACWA and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) released last year, this policy would have increased water and wastewater project financing costs by approximately $6 billion and prevented many projects from going forward. The Administration’s FY 2015 budget is expected to be released next week. NACWA will keep its members updated on the budget as it pertains to the treatment of municipal bonds and other issues of importance to utilities.
NACWA met with key staff in the EPA Office of Water, including representatives from the Office of Wastewater Management, the Office of Ground Water & Drinking Water, and the Office of the Assistant Administrator’s, on Thursday to discuss the Agency’s policies and activities related to water reuse and their implications for the clean water community. Water reuse, an important component of the industry’s Utility of the Future (UOTF) effort, historically been focused in certain regions of the country, but more recently has seen increasing activity east of the Mississippi. Clean water agencies are exploring innovative approaches to resource recovery and unconventional revenue streams, and those currently affected by drought are seeing water reuse and recycling as a way to address water scarcity and resiliency concerns. As interest in reuse continues to grow, EPA is trying to determine the best role for the Agency to ensure that communities have reliable and safe water supplies, but not disrupt ongoing reuse efforts across the country. Dialogue among the various EPA offices is vital as water reuse issues reside near the intersection of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), and EPA is trying to determine the best role for the Agency given that reuse is currently regulated entirely at the state level. NACWA will continue to foster a dialogue on water reuse by coordinating with other associations and federal agencies as appropriate, and will continue this conversation with EPA to explore areas for potential collaboration.
NACWA provided perspectives on Utility of the Future (UOTF) and nutrient issues during the California Association of Sanitation Agencies’ (CASA) eleventh annual Washington, DC conference this week. During a panel discussion on the UOTF, NACWA joined speakers from EPA, the Department of Energy and the private sector to explore the range of activities now underway. The Association’s remarks focused on the increasingly public role utilities are taking with their communities as they embrace the mantle of being key drivers of local economic growth. Discussion focused on how the UOTF initiative can help frame the "story" of utility leadership in a compelling way not only to ratepayers, but also to policymakers at the state and national level. A separate session on nutrients focused on finding the right path forward for controlling nutrients – and a recent dialogue among the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) on the development of a nutrient roadmap for smarter nutrient management. California and other states across the country are struggling to find a path forward on nutrients that is focused on environmental outcomes, and NACWA described the landscape at the federal level that continues to apply pressure on the states to show progress. The Association also underscored the importance of site-specific approaches that can better account for unique watershed issues, but noted that such approaches take time and resources – both of which are in short supply at the moment.
Earlier this week, the Board of Directors of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) approved funding for a technical workgroup that will address flushability issues related to wipes and other products, allowing the workgroup to move forward as envisioned by NACWA, WEF, the American Public Works Association (APWA) and INDA (the trade association of the nonwoven fabrics industry). NACWA’s Board previously approved Targeted Action Fund (TAF) funding for the workgroup, and INDA has also approved funding.
The idea for the technical workgroup arose during the July 2013 meeting of NACWA, WEF, APWA, and INDA, where the associations decided that flushability issues would best be addressed by a small group of experts from the wastewater and wipes industries. The facilitated workgroup will try to reach consensus on the concepts and definitions related to flushability and the appropriate test methods to screen out non-flushables and verify a product’s safety for collection systems, treatment plants, and septic systems. If the discussions of the workgroup are successful, one set of flushability standards would be developed that both the wastewater and wipes industries agree on. These flushability standards would be the basis for voluntary testing and labeling by manufacturers and retailers.
The workgroup will consist of representatives from NACWA, WEF, APWA, and INDA and will have three meetings over the next four to five months. The workgroup is an important component of the “War to Protect Our Pipes, Pumps, Plants, and Personnel” campaign that NACWA announced in October, to reduce the amount of wipes and other inappropriate products that are flushed or drained into the sewer system.
Registration is now open for NACWA’s next legal web seminar on March 19 from 2:00 – 3:15 pm ET, which will feature presentations on Clean Water Act jurisdiction and water quality trading. The seminar is part of a new membership benefit for NACWA members involving a series of four quarterly web seminars discussing important and timely legal issues facing clean water utilities. The first seminar in January was a huge success, and the March offering promises to be equally engaging and educational with discussion of two important legal developments impacting the municipal clean water community.
Topics for the March 19 event will include a presentation by LaJuana Wilcher and Samantha Propp from English Lucas Priest & Owsley examining the complicated history of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, the current state of play, and where things may be headed in the future as EPA pursues a new jurisdictional rule. The second presentation, from Brooks Smith and his colleagues at Troutman Sanders, will examine the power, potential, and occasional perils of water quality trading, including an overview of the latest developments and emerging trends.
Registration for the web seminar is complimentary for NACWA members, and additional information is available on NACWA’s website. Stay ahead of the curve and reserve your space for you and your clean water colleagues today!
If you have a peak performing facility, then don’t miss out on your chance to be recognized. NACWA continues to accept applications for the 2013 Peak Performance Awards program. All eligible member agencies are encouraged to submit their nomination as soon as possible, as the deadline is quickly approaching. The Peak Performance Awards program acknowledges member agency facilities for excellence in wastewater treatment as measured by their compliance with their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements.
The deadline for submissions to the Peak Performance Awards program is April 4, 2014. Visit NACWA’s website for more information on the Peak Performance Awards program including its standards and how to apply.
Water Week 2014 is almost here! Have you made your plans to join NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) for the National Water Policy Forum & Fly-In, April 7-9 at the Capital Hilton? The Forum & Fly-In, will bring together water and wastewater professionals from across the country to meet with Members of Congress and federal regulators to share perspectives on federal clean water policy. The agenda features Congressional speakers, policy briefings, visits to Capitol Hill, and roundtable dialogues with key policymakers. Registration is a low $250 and we have secured $299 rate per night (single/double), plus applicable taxes, at the Capital Hilton. Hotel reservations must be made by Monday, March 17, 2014 to receive the special rate. To ensure a hotel room, contact the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC at 202.393.1000. Be sure to identify yourself as a Water Policy Forum attendee. Make your plans today!
We know that nutrient runoff is the greatest water quality challenge facing the United States today. By enacting the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in the 2014 Farm Bill, Congress has extended an opportunity for the municipal wastewater community to prove what we’ve been saying for decades: if we want to see serious reductions of nutrient loadings in surface waters, it’s far more effective to invest in best management practices on the farm then in more treatment at publicly-owned treatment works (POTW). How will the RCPP provide opportunities for clean water utilities? Read more or subscribe to The Water Voice and never miss a post!
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