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Clean Water Current - October 24


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October 24, 2014

Webcast to Focus on Utility Concerns about Ebola Virus

A November 4, 2:00-3:00 pm EST, Water Environment Federation (WEF)/Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) webcast – co-sponsored by NACWA, Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), the American Public Health Association (APHA), and WateReuse – will address concerns that the Ebola virus poses on wastewater worker safety. The webcast will include a general overview of what is known about the survival of the Ebola virus in wastewater and what is needed in terms of additional research, sanitation and personal protective practices for wastewater personnel. Other WEF resources on operator safety, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Interim Guidance for Workers Handling Untreated Sewage from Ebola Cases in the United States (if released prior to this webcast), will also be featured. Registration is required for the free webcast.

NACWA will notify members just as soon as the CDC releases the interim guidance. The guidance will address basic hygiene practices, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, and PPE disposal actions. Specifically, this guidance will provide recommendations and protocols for workers who perform sewer maintenance, construction workers who repair or replace sewers, plumbers, and workers who clean portable toilets.

Proposed Dental Amalgam Separator Rule Published

EPA’s proposed Dental Amalgam Separator rule was published in the Federal Register pdf button this week. The proposal requires all dental offices to install and maintain dental amalgam separators that achieve a 99 percent reduction of total mercury. This pretreatment standard would require that dental offices also follow best management practices and submit annual certification reports to their wastewater utility or other pretreatment control authority. EPA proposes changing the General Pretreatment Regulations to establish a Dental Industrial User (DIU) category, which would require less oversight from utilities as long as the dental office remained in compliance. NACWA will issue a detailed Advocacy Alert early next week with information about the proposal and the data that the Association will need for its comment effort.

Public comments on the proposed rule are due by December 22; however, NACWA and the American Dental Association (ADA) plan to jointly request an extension of the comment deadline.

NACWA Meets with EPA Inspector General on Consent Decree Study

On Wednesday, NACWA met with EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to discuss OIG’s investigation pdf button into the effectiveness of the Agency's municipal wet weather enforcement efforts via consent decrees. The investigation was initiated in August and is in the initial research, planning and scoping phase. This project is a part of OIG’s ongoing review of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives. At the conclusion of the investigation, OIG will provide recommendations to EPA on how it can improve the effectiveness, efficiency and equity/justice of this enforcement initiative.

This week’s meeting came in response to a letter pdf button NACWA submitted last week. OIG indicated that they were pleased that NACWA reached out, as the Association was on their shortlist of key stakeholders with expertise on consent decree issues. NACWA encouraged OIG to take a holistic view when evaluating the “success” of EPA’s enforcement program, noting that OIG should evaluate not only environmental benefits – but also the economic and social impacts of consent decree programs on local communities. NACWA, in particular, focused on affordability concerns related to consent decrees and the need for an update to EPA’s 1997 Financial Capability Guidance. OIG appeared very receptive to these issues.

OIG seems committed to conducting a review that best assesses the successes and shortcomings of the enforcement program using the proper metrics. NACWA wants to ensure that OIG has the benefit of the most accurate and comprehensive information available. Members that are willing to share any of the following information with NACWA are asked to contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (202/833-3692), or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (202/530-2758):

    • Completed financial capability analyses;
    • An accounting of transaction costs associated with negotiating or renegotiating consent decrees (attorney/consultant/economist fees; staff time; travel, etc.);
    • Clean water agencies that will not or cannot meet water quality standards by the termination date of the consent decree;
    • Clean water agencies that have been told by regulators that 2% median household income (MHI) is the floor rather than the ceiling for determining economic burden (i.e., must spend to 2% MHI before affordability can be considered);
    • Examples of where clean water agencies have deferred spending on other environmental programs (e.g., deferred spending on drinking water investments) or asset management (including infrastructure maintenance and replacement) in order to comply with wastewater/stormwater regulatory mandates in a wet weather consent decree;
    • Examples of communities that are being or have been pushed to a level of control/service or design storm for SSOs and/or CSOs that goes beyond the knee of the curve and cannot be justified from a cost/benefit standpoint.

This information will help the Association better inform the OIG review.

NACWA, AEANJ, Host Integrated Planning Workshop in New Jersey

The Association of Environmental Authorities of New Jersey (AEANJ) partnered with NACWA to co-host an Integrated Planning (IP) Workshop on Thursday in Newark for public agencies across the Garden State. The Workshop is the eighth in a series of nationwide IP workshops that NACWA has hosted. New Jersey is undergoing a number of regulatory changes, including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's (NJDEP) finalization of the first CSO permits, making this IP Workshop particularly timely. Utility leaders, NJDEP, EPA Headquarters, and Region 2 staff discussed a number of applications of IP including for Long-Term Control Plans (LTCPs), tiered nitrate limits, and stormwater management.

The Workshop began with a broad overview of the "state of play" in New Jersey including their unique governance structure and Clean Watershed Needs Survey ranking New Jersey number one with $32.5 B in needs, ahead of both California and New York. EPA then described the Integrated Planning Framework and how it's being applied around the country and might be applied in New Jersey. NJDEP, Region 2, utilities and other workshop participants outlined where they see opportunities for their communities to take advantage of the Framework in the face of reduced budgets and increasing regulatory requirements. EPA staff elaborated on their ongoing work to develop their Financial Capability Assessment Framework, which they plan on finalizing later this year, may affect the affordability component of an integrated plan.

NJDEP asserts that they, in fact, wrote the CSO permits based on the concepts of IP with an ultimate focus on water quality improvements. The CSO permits and the relatively new responsibility of surface water dischargers to deal with stormwater management, puts New Jersey utilities in a unique position to apply IP at the ground level. New Jersey Future, a local nonprofit, described how IP could incorporate broad sustainable development principles. The Workshop provided stakeholders with the opportunity to ask tough questions about the realities of IP and work through the details of how it may apply to their specific circumstances. NACWA appreciates all those who attended the Workshop, and continues to support New Jersey members as they respond to their clean water obligations, as well as members around the country pursuing IP solutions.

NACWA Reaches out to NJ Delegation for Support of Integrated Planning

In parallel to the Association's recent Integrated Planning (IP) Workshop in New Jersey, NACWA held a series of meetings with staff for key Members of New Jersey's congressional delegation to discuss EPA's IP initiative and how it might help New Jersey's communities facing compliance with the Clean Water Act's CSO policy.

NACWA met with key staff for New Jersey Senators Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, as well representatives of Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Albio Sires – both of whose districts are home to the majority of CSO communities in the state. The Association briefed them on the initiative and asked for their help in securing additional resources in the FY 15 EPA budget to help interested communities put together integrated plans. The congressional staff members all indicated that the effort was important and that they would work with NACWA to demonstrate their support for the FY 15 funding request.   

EPA Hosts Web Seminar for Members to Better Access Water Quality Data

Charles Kovatch from the EPA Office of Wetlands, Oceans & Watersheds (OWOW) delivered a web seminar for NACWA members to learn more about OWOW's Water Quality Portal which brings together chemical, physical, and microbiological data from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Water Information System (NWIS) and EPA's Storage and Retrieval Data Warehouse (STORET) into a single, user-friendly web interface. The presentation slides pdf button and a tutorial pdf button are available to NACWA members.

During the seminar, EPA highlighted possible Portal use cases including establishing science-based permit limits; demonstrating nutrient TMDL program effectiveness; and, identifying watershed partners. Although these are a few potential applications, OWOW is actively soliciting feedback to incorporate into their tool, and has provided the following prompt questions. Please consider providing any feedback to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it on the following questions:

    1. How do you see the water data from the Water Quality Portal supporting your utility needs?
    2. Are there any specific cases where access to water quality data through the Portal would improve your decision-making?
    3. What barriers do you see in using the water data from the Portal? Or providing data?

NACWA Participates in Summit on Public-Private Sector Collaboration

NACWA staff and a number of its Member Agencies participated in The American Water Summit 2014 in Houston, Texas bringing together over 400 leaders in the public and private sectors to discuss how to smash the silos that still stand in the way of greater collaboration.  The Summit underscored the conclusions drawn from NACWA's June Clean Water Finance Dialogue – that while available funding, such as in pension funds and endowments, continues to grow – and while public infrastructure continues to become more attractive to private investors – there continues to be relatively few examples of public-private partnerships (P3s) in the clean water arena.  NACWA underscored that Utility of the Future-type projects, rather than broad concessionary agreements – especially as they relate to larger public agencies – are the best opportunity for P3s to increase as well as to build trust between the sectors.

National Clean Water Law Seminar Hotel Deadline – Monday, October 27

The October 27 deadline to reserve a hotel room at the discounted rate for NACWA’s National Clean Water Law Seminar is just around the corner – make you plans to attend today!  This year’s program, scheduled for November 19 – 21, at the Loews Don Cesar Hotel in sunny St. Pete Beach, Florida, promises a timely and informative examination of the hottest legal and regulatory topics impacting clean water utilities.  Continuing Legal Education pdf button (CLE) credit is available, with a number of approvals already received from specific states.  A complete CLE list, along with a program agenda, hotel information, and conference registration, is available on NACWA’s website.  Designed for both clean water attorneys and utility managers, this conference is a “can’t miss” event!

Leadership Center Deadline – Friday, October 31

The deadline to submit applications for the Water & Wastewater Leadership Center is Friday, October 31.  The Leadership Center is designed exclusively for current and up-and-coming water and wastewater utility leaders.  Convened annually at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the 2015 Leadership Center will be held March 8-19, 2015.  Participants graduate from this unique program equipped not only with an enhanced skill set, but a path forward in the establishment of strategic career and utility goals that deliver measurable results.  Class size is limited.  Contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Program Manager with questions.

NACWA Blog of the Week
What Lies Beneath:
Our Basement Has a Secret – And It’s Not Out of Sight or Out of Mind

NACWA has been watching its very own horror story unfold right before our eyes in the basement of its headquarters building – and it’s not pretty.  It seems at least one of the century old cast-iron pipes collapsed, causing sewage to back up. The irony of this happening to the advocacy organization that shines a bright light on the issue of aging clean water infrastructure is not lost on our staff.  This situation serves as a strong reminder that infrastructure must not be considered out of sight and out of mind – instead, it is this infrastructure, and the work of NACWA's members, that allows all other businesses to carry out their day-to-day functions. Read on to find out more, or better yet, subscribe to The Water Voice and never miss a post!


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