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April 24, 2015
NACWA Partners on American Water Summit, Encourages Members to Attend
NACWA is an official ‘partner’ on the American Water Summit: Scalable Solutions, taking place October 20-21 in Denver. As part of its partner status, the Association has had significant input into the agenda, which will focus on creating a dialogue between private and public interests on array of issues related to private financing of public infrastructure. A benefit of NACWA’s partnership is a discounted registration fee of $595 for NACWA Member Agencies, and non-member public agency representatives. The registration fee is less than half the cost for private sector attendees and $100 below other government and non-profit registrants. The Association encourages Member Agency General Managers to attend along with their CFOs, CIOs, COOs or other key agency officials interested in the arena of public-private partnerships (P3s).
NACWA provided opening remarks this week at a workshop on utilities of the future (UOTF), featuring the work of its Member Agencies across the country. The workshop, hosted by EPA, was held as a part of the International Water Association's 2015 International Conference, Water Efficiency and Performance Assessment of Water Services, in Cincinnati, Ohio. NACWA Member Agency, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC), represented by Paula Kehoe, Director of Water Resources, was the highlight of the workshop. Kehoe provided an overview of SFPUC's work to encourage increased non-potable water reuse in the urban environment. The PUC is leading the way in San Francisco with a Living Machine® at its new headquarters that treats and recycles 'black water' waste back to the building for use in building toilets and urinals. The workshop also featured presentations on water quality trading and an economic analysis comparing drinking water treatment costs to upstream, source water protection efforts.
In a meeting with the U.S. Department of the Treasury on Wednesday, NACWA joined the U.S. Water Alliance (USWA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Montgomery County, Maryland, and Seattle Public Utilities to request that rebates – from regional water utilities and municipal water departments to private property owners – for green infrastructure (GI) installed to control stormwater, not be taxable. Though communities have invested in private property rebate programs for years, in recent months concerns were raised that any rebate could be taxable, thus disincentivizing the proliferation of critical stormwater retention projects. GI rebates should not be taxable because the rebates should be treated as a purchase price reduction (and therefore as not taxable) and they do not confer a net benefit on the property owner (and therefore do not constitute a taxable accretion to wealth). The groups asked the IRS to confirm this conclusion in a revenue ruling. If the IRS were to issue such a ruling, water utilities would not need to issue Forms 1099 in connection with the rebates, resulting in increased willingness among property owners to participate in GI programs. A memo outlining the issue in detail was provided to the attorney advisors at Treasury. This initial meeting was the first in what will likely be an ongoing dialogue. Questions should be directed to Brenna Mannion.
NACWA joined five water organizations to send a letter of support for H.R. 1731, the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act and H.R. 1560, the Protecting Cyber Networks Act. The National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act was cosponsored by Rep. McCaul (R-TX) and Rep. Ratcliffe (R-TX) and passed the House with a vote count of 355-64. The Protecting Cyber Networks Act, cosponsored by Rep. Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Westmoreland (R-GA), and Rep. Himes (D-CT), passed with a vote count of 307-116. The two bills propose to: 1) set parameters for how the federal government, private entities, non-federal government agencies, and state, tribal, or local governments share sensitive cyber threat information; 2) authorize private network operators to monitor networks for cyber threats and take appropriate defensive measures when threats are identified; and, 3) offer protections to encourage private sector participation in these efforts. At the urging of the municipal water and wastewater sector, language was added to the bills that clarifies that local government agencies performing public utility services, such as municipal water and wastewater systems, will enjoy the same cybersecurity incentives and protections as their private-sector counterparts. It is important for water agencies to maintain strong cybersecurity systems as a successful cyber-attack could greatly disrupt water services. NACWA signed the letter with the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), National Rural Water Association (NRWA), and Water Environment Federation (WEF). A vote on the Senate companion bill has yet to be scheduled and it is unclear when it will consider the legislation.
The American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists (AAEES), this week, celebrated the Academy’s 2015 Excellence in Environmental Engineering & Science winners, and distinguished environmental engineers, scientists and professionals. Among those being recognized were Kevin Shafer, NACWA Board Member and Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District; the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County; and, DC Water. NACWA Affiliates, RMC Water & Environment; ARCADIS; CDM Smith; Greeley and Hansen; and, Kennedy/Jenks Consultants and AECOM also received recognition.
Honored with the distinguished Edward J. Cleary Award, Kevin Shafer was recognized for his outstanding management of environmental protection enterprises and demonstrated exemplary professional conduct, personal leadership, originality in devising new environmental protection techniques and sensitivity and responsiveness to social, economic, and political factors in environmental protection. Kevin was acknowledged for his leadership of Milwaukee’s establishment of a regional stormwater runoff rule and his numerous other innovative initiatives to manage the District’s stormwater runoff. In addition, his pioneering work establishing the award-winning Greenseams® Program was a contributing factor in his receipt of this prestigious award.
AAEES award-winning projects address research, planning design, operations and management, university research, small projects, and environmental sustainability. Congratulations to all!
EPA will be hosting three webinars on EJSCREEN, the Agency’s new environmental justice screening tool. The tool offers powerful data and mapping capabilities that display environmental and demographic information at a high geographic resolution across the entire country. EJSCREEN is intended to be an informational tool for use by EPA, states, the regulated community, and the public to screen for a variety of environmental, demographic, and economic factors that could be helpful to understand when making environmental compliance decisions. Each webinar will offer the same information. The webinars will be held on May 12, May 28, and June 3. Registration is required.
NACWA and EPA staff met on March 4 and April 20 to learn more about the tool and explore its many features and uses. Association staff was impressed with its overall functionality and believes it could be a very useful tool for Member Agencies. NACWA has been engaged in discussions with EPA on improvements, especially with regard to the type of data EJSCREEN provides for water dischargers. The Association will continue to meet with EPA over the coming months to help fine tune this useful tool. EPA considers EJSCREEN to be a work in progress and will continue to improve and enhance its accuracy and capabilities after release.
While celebrating the 45th Anniversary of Earth Day, NACWA’s Adam Krantz was wondering – is our planet misnamed? Given that our planet is comprised in large measure of water, we should have named it “Planet Water”? If it were, we would celebrating “Water Day” every April 22nd and, perhaps, if every time a child had to learn they live on “Planet Water” we might have an army of advocates who understand the stakes in ensuring sustainable clean and safe water systems. Read on to find out more about our thoughts on Earth Day – or better yet, subscribe to The Water Voice and never miss a post!
The Clean Water Current is a vital part of NACWA’s dynamic communications network. Beginning May 1, a redesigned Current will provide important news you can use, remind you of upcoming deadlines, and share the best of The Water Voice blog and key conversations trending on our online network, Engage™ – all now accessible without a password. NACWA’s Clean Water Current succinctly captures the news of the week – providing links to key documents and webpages for those desiring a more in depth look. Never miss an issue of the Current and you’ll be up-to-date on all the news of the week.
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