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Clean Water Current - May 22


 May 22, 2015

FTC Announces Settlement Agreement with Wipes Manufacturer

052215T wipesA settlement agreement announced this week by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will prohibit Nice-Pak Products, Inc., from advertising its wipes as flushable unless it can substantiate that the product is safe for sewer systems, septic systems, and household plumbing. The agreement states that Nice-Pak must provide “tests, analyses, research, studies, or other evidence” to show that the product “disperses in a sufficiently short amount of time after flushing to avoid clogging, or other operational problems in, household and municipal sewage lines, septic systems, and other standard wastewater equipment; and substantially replicate the physical conditions of the environment in which the Covered Product is claimed… to be properly disposed of.”

The FTC investigation was launched because a “flushable” product, made by Nice-Pak until last year, was shown in tests by wastewater utilities to not break down in a reasonable length of time. Nice-Pak – which provides wipes for retailers that include Costco, CVS, and Target – claims that its current generation of wipes is safe to flush. But NACWA and other wastewater associations do not agree that current industry guidelines are adequate, and are currently working with wipes industry to develop new guidelines.

The Association is investigating the practical implications of the settlement agreement and will provide comments to the FTC during the 30-day public comment period. Members are also encouraged to submit comments, and an Advocacy Alert about the agreement will be sent to members next week.

NACWA Files Comments on Proposed EPA Rulemakings

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NACWA filed comments on two separate proposed EPA rulemakings this week. The first proposal, the Methods Update Rule, would make several changes related to Clean Water Act analytical methods. The most notable changes are to EPA’s procedure for determining method detection limits (MDLs). NACWA’s comments pdf button supported EPA’s proposed changes to the MDL procedure, but noted that EPA has still not addressed concerns with its procedure for establishing the minimum level (ML). A number of NACWA Member Agencies also submitted comments on the proposal, including detailed input on the numerous changes EPA is proposing to a range of analytical methods.

NACWA also submitted comments pdf button on an EPA proposed rule that would impose additional e-reporting requirements on sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) complying with the New Source Performance Standards, as well as any wastewater treatment plants complying with such standards. While there are only a few new source SSIs at this time, EPA intends to roll out these e-reporting requirements to existing sources at some point in the future. NACWA’s comments highlighted a few concerns with EPA’s reporting tool and assumptions regarding burden on the clean water community.

Water Sector Coordinating Council Meets with Government Partners

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During meetings this week in Washington, D.C., the Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC) and the sector’s Government Coordinating Council (GCC) discussed priorities related to security, emergency preparedness, and resilience for drinking water and wastewater utilities. NACWA’s two representatives to the WSCC – Patty Cleveland, Assistant Regional Manager with the Trinity River Authority, Texas, and Chair of the WSCC, and Jim Davidson, Manager of Safety & Security for the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District – both participated in the meeting.

The WSCC discussed the ongoing priorities for the sector, including the progress made to date and the needed improvements. Cybersecurity remains a top priority for the sector, with many utilities still vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Both the WSCC and the GCC approved the final report and recommendations pdf button of the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC) Water Sector Cybersecurity Workgroup. The Workgroup made specific recommendations for providing outreach and training to promote improved cybersecurity in the sector and identified the needed tools for accomplishing this. The water sector associations will be gathering information from their members about current cybersecurity measures, and NACWA’s Security & Emergency Preparedness Committee will be asked to assist with this effort.

Federal Task Force on Mississippi River Nutrient Challenge Hears From NACWA

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On Wednesday, NACWA delivered a presentation at a public meeting of the Mississippi River Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force on ways to address excessive nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River basin through collaborative partnerships between the municipal water and wastewater sector and farmers. The Task Force was established in 1997 to understand the causes and effects of eutrophication in the Gulf of Mexico; coordinate activities to reduce the size, severity, and duration; and ameliorate the effects of hypoxia. Wednesday’s public meeting was one of many designed to inform the public of the work of the Task Force and progress being made throughout the watershed to reduce the hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.

Patricia Sinicropi, NACWA’s Senior Director for Legislative Affairs, presented on the work NACWA has been doing through the Health Waters Coalition focused on strengthening the links between water quality and conservation program funding at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Task Force also heard from the City of Cedar Rapids, Public Works Department, a NACWA Member Agency, represented by Steve Hershner, who discussed the Middle Cedar Watershed Partnership effort the City has undertaken with local farmers to address nutrient run-off issues. The Mississippi River Task Force is co-chaired by EPA Senior Policy Advisor, Ellen Gilinsky, and Bill Northey, Secretary of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and a 2015 recipient of NACWA’s National Environmental Achievement Award. Members of the Task Force include a number of federal agencies with jurisdiction over natural resource issues and States located throughout the Mississippi River Basin. Task force activities include coordinating and supporting nutrient management activities from all sources, restoring habitats to trap and assimilate nutrients, and supporting other hypoxia related activities in the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico watersheds.

NACWA, WERF Host Discussion on Environmental Justice

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NACWA and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) hosted a conference call on environmental justice (EJ) issues featuring Charles Lee, Deputy Associate Assistant Administrator for Environmental Justice at EPA. Both NACWA and WERF pointed to the importance of EJ issues for water sector utilities. This included a discussion of how Clean Water Act affordability should be seen as an EJ issue given the disproportionate impact on low-income populations (both urban and rural); the importance of viewing infrastructure projects (green and grey) as jobs programs (see related blog on DC Water’s green infrastructure program and its commitment to hire locally); as well as the need to focus on compliance assurance rather than expensive enforcement proceedings. Lee agreed that the issues NACWA and WERF raised were important, that a broad definition of environmental justice was needed, and that NACWA and WERF should continue to play a key role as EPA moves forward with its EJ agenda, including providing input into the EJ2020 Action Agenda Framework. The comment period on this framework – which will help define EPA’s EJ priorities for the next five years — closes on June 15. Members should send their thoughts on this framework to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

National Advocacy Update Provided at Wet Weather Partnership Meeting

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NACWA participated in the annual Wet Weather Partnership meeting this week in Louisville, Kentucky, providing an update on key national clean water developments and the importance of continued advocacy by the municipal clean water community. In her remarks, NACWA Deputy General Counsel Amanda Waters highlighted the introduction of the Clean Water Affordability Act pdf button and the Association’s efforts urging Congressional budget leaders to maintain spending for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund at currents levels and provide funding for integrated planning.

Waters also discussed a number of important national regulatory priorities including integrated planning, nutrients and Clean Water Act jurisdiction. She also promoted the Association's Wet Weather Consent Decree Handbook and related online Consent Decree e-Library as important resources for municipal utilities on wet weather enforcement issues.

Several Association Member Agencies spoke at the conference including the Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District; the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati; the cities of Kansas City and Springfield, MO; and Johnson County Wastewater, KS. In addition, NACWA Member Agency, DC Water, announced the lodging, in federal court, of their Consent Decree Modification focused on green infrastructure.

Workgroup Considers Draft Reuse Legislation

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A dozen utilities, this week, participated in a conference call of NACWA’s Water Reuse Workgroup to discuss two pieces of draft water reuse legislation. The draft National Water Recycling & Reclamation Act pdf button was developed by the Western Recycled Water Coalition, with whom NACWA collaborates, to create a new competitive federal grant program for water recycling/reuse/reclamation – with no need for individual project authorizations. Another proposal, the RE-Act (Reclamation Efficiency Act) pdf button, was developed by the North Bay Water Reuse Program, is modeled after the existing WIFIA program and would create a new low interest loan program for water recycling/reuse/ reclamation – with a maximum loan of 49% of project cost. The Workgroup Chair, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it of Delta Diablo, CA, is seeking Member Agency feedback on these proposals and would be interested in how utilities would answer the question: “What is the federal benefit of funding local reuse projects?”

NACWA staff updated members on two Water Environment Research Foundation projects, one determining a roadmap for pricing reclaimed water and the other to develop technical requirements based on public health standards for On-site Water Systems. The Association would like to highlight water reuse projects on the NACWA blog, and anyone who would like to author a blog may contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Have you gotten engaged? NACWA's online network, Engage, is continuing to be the premiere resource for wastewater professionals. This week, a discussion on the use of a utility's land where biosolids have been applied takes center stage on Open Forum. In the Women in Water Forum, discussion continues on the workplace dynamics inspired by women executives. To learn more about Engage™ please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , Director of Marketing & Digital Media at 202.533.1802.





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