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Clean Water Current - February 20



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February 20, 2015

NACWA Requests Withdrawal of Dental Amalgam Separator Rule

NACWA submitted comments pdf button today on EPA’s proposed Dental Amalgam Separator rule pdf button, asking the Agency to withdraw the rule because it is unnecessary and its costs are not justified by its environmental benefits. The rule would require the over 100,000 dental offices that place or remove amalgam to have separators installed. Utilities with pretreatment programs would be required to provide oversight of these dental offices, which must also submit annual certifications and follow best management practices. NACWA’s Advocacy Alert 14-21 provides details about the proposed rule and its impacts on utilities.

NACWA requested that EPA withdraw the rule since states and utilities have the authority to establish dental amalgam separator programs when needed, and many have already established successful programs. Utilities that do not have mercury problems with their effluent or biosolids could better spend their resources on other environmental issues. NACWA also stated that “EPA’s analysis to justify the rule is fatally flawed.” EPA used the out-of-date 50 POTW Study to determine mercury removal efficiencies, underestimating current mercury removal capabilities of wastewater treatment plants. The Agency also overestimated the number of dental amalgam fillings that are placed and removed, leading to an overestimation of the amount of mercury that is currently discharged to POTWs from dental offices. The costs to utilities was severely underestimated, with EPA allowing less than 10 minutes to verify compliance of each dental office in the U.S.

In its comments, NACWA extensively used the information submitted by over 200 wastewater treatment utilities in the Association’s Mercury & Dental Amalgam Separator Survey. The survey data demonstrated that utilities do not have problems meeting their effluent and biosolids requirements for mercury. Additionally, the data submitted by utilities that already have dental amalgam separator programs enabled NACWA to estimate the cost of the rule to utilities and other control authorities as $12 million/year, plus an initial cost of $24 million to develop dental amalgam separator programs. EPA’s estimate for utilities and other control authorities was $960,000/year. NACWA will continue to push for withdrawal of the proposed rule and keep members informed of any developments.

National Water Policy Forum Registration Opens

Registration opened today for the 2015 National Water Policy Forum, Fly-In & Expo. The National Water Policy Forum, Fly-In & Expo, the anchor event of Water Week 2015, will convene in Washington, D.C. from April 13 – 15, 2015. The Policy Forum is presented by NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) – and new this year – the WateReuse Association. The Forum will take place at the Westin Washington, DC City Center – and will feature distinguished speakers, conference sessions, Capitol Hill visits, and regulatory roundtables. The Policy Forum provides an unparalleled opportunity to – together with clean water colleagues from across the nation – make your voice heard in Washington – as well as access the latest legislative, regulatory, and legal developments. NACWA members are urged to register today and consider bringing a delegation from your organization, state or region.

Water Week 2015 will take place April 12 – 18, 2015 – and, in addition to the Policy Forum & Fly-In, will include the U.S. Water Alliance's U.S. Water Prize Ceremony & Reception, the Water & Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers (WWEMA) Annual Washington Forum – as well as meetings of what is anticipated to be a growing list of state, regional, and national water sector organizations. Visit the Water Week website to view all the events and activities for the week.

Stormwater Litigation Moves Forward, NACWA Files Brief

After a brief procedural hiccup, litigation over New York State’s Phase II municipal stormwater program is moving forward again and NACWA joined with other interested parties this week to file a brief pdf button in the case. The litigation involves a challenge by environmental activists groups to New York’s Phase II General Permit for municipal stormwater dischargers and raises significant questions about how the Clean Water Act’s “maximum extent practicable” (MEP) standard for municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) should be applied in stormwater permits.

NACWA joined with the City of New York and other groups to file a brief opposing the environmental activist challenge to MEP. The brief provides a robust and spirited defense of the MEP standard, arguing that MEP is a unique standard created for municipal stormwater that does not require strict compliance with water quality standards, nor numeric permit limits. Instead, the brief argues that MEP allows necessary flexibility for site-specific stormwater controls based on cost-effectiveness. Additional information on the case is available on NACWA’s Litigation Tracking webpage. Oral arguments are scheduled for the end of March.

NACWA Speaks with Iowa Farmers on Nutrient Challenge

NACWA spoke this week at the Iowa Soybean Association’s 2015 Research Conference on the need for agriculture to be part of the solution to address nutrient pollution in our waterways. The Association’s Senior Legislative Director, Pat Sinicropi, delivered remarks along with NACWA Member Agency the City of Cedar Rapids, represented by Steve Hershner, Utilities Director. Hershner discussed the City’s collaboration with upstream farmers in the Middle Cedar River Watershed, which recently received an award of funding by the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Over 500 farmers participated in this ISA annual conference focused on the latest research on the effectiveness of conservation practices undertaken by farmers to achieve environmental improvements – including in water quality. In their remarks, Sinicropi and Hershner stressed the opportunity for collaboration to tackle the nutrient challenge in more cost-effective ways.

EPA Proposes Changes to Test Methods, NACWA to Comment

EPA published a proposed Methods Update Rule pdf button this week, outlining a number of potential changes to its test procedure regulations in 40 CFR Part 136. The proposed changes include the addition of new and revised methods; technical and typographical corrections to Part 136; and, amendments to the procedure for determining method detection limits (MDL) to address lab contamination and to better account for intra-lab variability. NACWA will be reviewing the proposed changes, but encourages its members to review the proposal and send any comments or concerns to Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The Association will develop comments on the proposal prior to its April 20, 2015 deadline.

Deadline Extended for National Disaster Resilience Competition

The Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) extended the deadline this week for the National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) from March 16 to March 27, 2015. Announced in September, the NDRC makes $1 billion available for local governments to incorporate resilience into their long-term planning. Eligible applicants are states with qualifying disasters and units of general local government who received Community Development Block Grant funds for disaster recovery (CDBG-DR) for disasters occurring in the last 3 years. Applicants who have already submitted an application do not need to resubmit.

NACWA Blog of the Week:
FY2016 Budget Request Shifts the Debate on Clean Water Investments

This week The Water Voice discusses the debate over what federal programs to fund in the Obama Administration’s FY 2016 Budget Request. Acknowledging what many federal budget watchers have argued for two years, the Administration jettisoned the budget handcuffs of sequestration in favor of a budget that restores funding for many of its priorities, including the environment and infrastructure investment. What’s our take on the budget? What are we hoping for once Congress has their say? Read on to find out more, or subscribe to The Water Voice and never miss a post.




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