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April 3, 2015
Congressional Leaders Confirmed for National Water Policy Forum & Fly-In
Reps. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Tim Walz (D-MN), and Donna Edwards (D-MD) have been confirmed to participate in the National Water Policy Forum, Fly-In & Expo. Reps. Walz and Edwards will both speak at the Congressional Breakfast on the morning of Tuesday, April 14 and share their expectations for passage of legislation reauthorizing key water and wastewater infrastructure programs in the 114th Congress. Rep. Walz will also be accepting NACWA’s 2014 National Environmental Achievement Award for his leadership on the Clean Water Affordability Act and other clean water issues. Reps. Gibbs and Napolitano, the Chair and Ranking Member of the House Water Resources & Environment Subcommittee, will share their outlooks on clean water issues at the Congressional Reception that evening. Attendees at the Policy Forum, a collaboration between NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), and WateReuse, will bring the sector’s message to Washington, DC April 13-15.
Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) along with Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) reintroduced the Clean Water Affordability Act last week. The legislation addresses key affordability concerns that many utilities face in meeting Clean Water Act (CWA) challenges – especially those relating to wet weather management. Specifically, the legislation codifies the Integrated Planning Framework and enables NPDES permits to be extended for communities with an approved integrated plan in place; requires the EPA to revise its guidance for determining a community’s financial capability to meet wet weather-related CWA compliance obligations; provides communities more tools for managing peak wet weather flows within sanitary sewers; and, establishes a 15% set-aside for rural communities within the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program. Both Reps. Latta and Walz will join attendees at the upcoming National Water Policy Forum, Fly-in & Expo to share their perspectives on affordability matters. Related legislation in the Senate is being prepared by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
Members of Congress in both chambers voiced their strong support for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF & DWSRF) programs in letters last week to House and Senate Appropriators as they begin the process of crafting the FY16 spending package for the EPA. The Administration’s FY16 Budget proposal requested a $333 million cut in spending for the CWSRF program and an increase of $270 million for the DWSRF. Sens. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) co-sponsored a Senate letter with thirty signatories and in the House, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) sponsored a letter that garnered support from fifty-two members. The reductions to the CWSRF could result in much lower investment in clean water infrastructure across the country – during a period when utilities are facing continued regulatory pressure to deal with nutrient pollution, wet weather enforcement, and new pretreatment standards, among other things. In addition, according to the most recent Clean Water Needs Survey, communities are faced with $300 billion worth of clean water infrastructure upgrades to deal with aging infrastructure. NACWA sent a letter earlier this month urging Congressional budget leaders to reject the Administration’s request and maintain spending for the CWSRF at currents levels.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) submitted a coalition letter signed by 51 organizations urging Senate leaders to protect the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds. The ‘Don’t Mess With Our Bonds’ Coalition is a broad-based group of 51 organizations from across multiple sectors ranging from water, transportation, education, energy, municipalities, and more. NACWA participated in this coalition with non-traditional partners outside of the water sector to work toward this common goal. For more than a century, tax-exempt municipal bonds have been the primary method used by local governments to finance infrastructure projects. In the past decade, these bonds have been used to finance over $3 trillion in critical infrastructure. Rolling back the tax-exempt status will have a detrimental impact on the ability of local governments to finance infrastructure improvements and increase the cost borne by taxpayers. NACWA is strongly advocating for the preservation of the tax-exempt status for municipal bonds and will continue to closely follow developments in Congress’ FY 2016 budget discussions.
NACWA hosted a conference call March 25 with state and regional clean water organizations representatives to share national, state, and regional advocacy developments. Many of the groups have joined NACWA and other national organizations as supporting organizations of Water Week 2015. As a part of this effort NACWA has asked its state and regional partners to show their support of full funding for the Clean Water SRF and WIFIA – and for the appropriation of the $13M requested for integrated planning letter – by signing on to a letter for use on Capitol Hill during Water Week to illustrate broad national support for clean water funding. Groups interested in signing on should contact NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs & Outreach, Brenna Mannion. On the call, Association staff briefed attendees on national advocacy priorities, including EPA’s regulatory review, Congress’ budget implications, and recently introduced legislation. The Western Coalition of Arid States’ Vice President, Kelly Collins, gave an overview of clean water priorities in the southwest, including continued focus on the Waters of the United States rule, endangered species concerns, and the U.S. Forest Service groundwater directive. Complete minutes from the call can be found here .
The Association’s state and regional outreach effort has been a valuable mechanism to engage to a greater degree on local issues, while ensuring advocacy reflects priorities of the broader clean water community. There has been significant interest in, and overwhelming positive response to, NACWA providing a separate avenue for stormwater group engagement on key issues. The Association is proceeding with plans to form a national umbrella coalition of state and regional stormwater groups. More information will be forthcoming; however, if you are involved with a regional stormwater group that would like to participate in this effort please contact Brenna Mannion.
Representatives from NACWA, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the EPA met Thursday to discuss a new effort to revisit, and potentially update, the attributes of effectively managed utilities. The Effective Utility Management (EUM) attributes and keys to management success were first released in March of 2007 and have been widely-adopted by many water and wastewater utilities. The organizations are interested in revisiting the work to determine whether any updates are needed to reflect developments over the past 8 years. One of those developments – the evolving Water Resources Utility of the Future initiative – will feature prominently when the groups convene for a meeting later this year. NACWA’s Board of Directors will consider a Targeted Action Fund (TAF) contribution to the new effort when it meets April 13, and the other groups are similarly seeking approval for their contributions. This week’s meeting was intended to lay some of the groundwork for the effort should the funding requests be approved. A steering group of utility representatives will be formed in the coming weeks to guide the process and NACWA’s membership will be kept informed of its progress. It is anticipated that the effort will be completed by the end of 2015.
The April 8 hotel deadline for NACWA’s Wet Weather Consent Decree Workshop is just around the corner – hurry and make your plans now to attend this can’t miss event! Scheduled for April 29 – 30 in Philadelphia, Penn., the Workshop will provide unparalleled information and analysis that all clean water utilities and professionals should know about negotiating and implement wet weather enforcement orders.
Top experts from EPA and the municipal clean water community will provide valuable insights on the wet weather enforcement process. Key features of the agenda include:
The Workshop will also provide a forum for candid dialogue and information sharing on lessons learned, successes and failures. Round-table discussions include:
Designed for utilities negotiating enforcement orders, implementing orders, or expecting enforcement action in the future, this Workshop is a tremendous resource for clean water agencies. Additional information and details on the Workshop are available on NACWA's website. Don’t miss out on this valuable event – register today!
The media can’t seem to get enough of wipes stories – a good thing for utilities since every news story draws attention to the problem and helps to educate people not to flush wipes. So, what’s the latest on the wipes issue? Read The Water Voice blog to find out more.
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