ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
NACWA urges Member Agencies to contact your Senators and Representatives to urge them to oppose cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program contained in the House and Senate’s proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 appropriations bills for EPA. The House EPA bill contains drastic cuts to the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs providing $1.8 billion in total funding – a 23% cut from current levels. The CWSRF is funded at $1.018 billion and the DWSRF at $757 million – a 30% and 16% cut respectively. The Senate bill calls for similar cuts providing the SRFs $1.852 billion -- $1.047 for the CWSRF and $776 million for the DWSRF (28% and 14% cuts respectively).
These spending bills are calling for steep cuts to clean water funding during a time when drinking water and wastewater agencies face increased regulatory and enforcement pressures, including in the Senate appropriations bill itself (see related story on the stringent Great Lakes provisions that NACWA is working hard to get removed). At the same time, these cuts come at a time when utilities are also facing management and cost pressures from unprecedented droughts in one third of the country. For these reasons, it is critical that NACWA Members voice their opposition to these cuts to your Congressional delegation and urge that funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs be restored.
NACWA sent a letter , with six other water organizations, urging Congress to stand firm on funding for clean and safe water infrastructure for FY 2016. The letter specifically calls on Congress to fund the Clean Water SRF at $1.45 billion; fund the Drinking Water (SRF) at $1.186 billion; fully fund the Water Infrastructure Financing & Innovation Act (WIFIA) program at $25 million; and, provide $50 million for water reuse and conservation projects.
The American Water Works Association (AWWA) hosted a meeting with NACWA and several other water sector organizations, including the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), this week for a discussion on a potential federal program or initiative to help alleviate water affordability concerns across the country. Earlier discussions among the groups had identified the possibility of establishing a subsidy program, similar to the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides approximately $4 billion in assistance to low-income households for heating and cooling their residences. This week’s discussion focused on the need to evaluate whether such a program would be a better investment of federal resources than just providing more funding through existing tools such as the State Revolving Funds (SRFs). In addition, the groups discussed whether some sort of federal action could enable or free up states and/or utilities to adjust rate structures and establish and fund broader subsidy programs for low income customers, in lieu of federal subsidies. The organizations are considering a joint project to evaluate the degree of need for such a program for water and wastewater customers, potential options for federal action, and options to remove barriers at the state and local level. The issue of affordability will be a topic of discussion during the upcoming Utility Leadership Conference & 45th Annual Meeting in Providence, both on the main program agenda and during several committee meetings.
NACWA met with Democratic staff to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to discuss drought in the western states and the role of water reuse in addressing water supply challenges caused by the drought. We also discussed the vital importance of incorporating water reuse in any forthcoming drought-related legislation that the Committee may be developing. The committee currently is focused on legislation related to the Yakima watershed but appreciated learning about NACWA member efforts to promote water reuse nationally and is open to exploring ways in which legislation may be helpful.
NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the American Public Works Association (APWA), the Canadian Water & Wastewater Association (CWWA), and INDA (the trade association of the nonwoven fabrics industry) continued their work to develop new flushability guidelines for wipes this week during a meeting in Cincinnati, OH. NACWA’s representative to the workgroup, Frank Dick, Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator for the City of Vancouver Department of Public Works in Washington state and Vice Chair of NACWA’s Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Committee, participated in the meeting. This effort is partially supported by NACWA’s Targeted Action Fund (TAF).
In line with the recently proposed consent decree between the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Nice-Pak (see NACWA’s Advocacy Alert for more details), the representatives from the associations focused on how to make the tests and passing criteria for the guidelines represent the real-world conditions in municipal sewers. The wastewater associations plan to consult with their members to collect information that will be useful in designing the tests. The goal of the associations is for wipes that meet the criteria of the new guidelines to be safe to flush into the sewer system, and the guidelines should be completed by June 2016.
Reaffirming his support for long-time nominee Ken Kopocis, President Barack Obama re-nominated Kopocis June 24 to head the EPA’s Office of Water. First nominated for the post in 2011, Kopocis’ nomination has been held up by political wrangling over the Office of Water’s efforts to clarify federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction. Kopocis has been serving as Deputy Assistant Administrator since August 2014. It is unclear whether the political dynamics have shifted sufficiently to allow Kopocis’ nomination to proceed through the Senate, but current efforts by some members of the Senate to block implementation of EPA’s Clean Water Rule suggest that the confirmation process may face continued delays.
NACWA is excited for the upcoming release of the first Utility of the Future Annual Report, expected in August, with the Executive Summary being released during NACWA’s 2015 Utility Leadership Conference, July 12-15, in Providence, Rhode Island. A draft of the Annual Report is now under review and ties together the array of key actors involved in adopting and implementing UOTF-style projects, including technology developers, consulting engineers, scientists, state and local government, the finance community, and professional organizations. Taken together, all these interests are combining to create an “innovation ecosystem” that is advancing the UOTF. Overall, the report finds that utilities must collaborate more with non-traditional partners and take on – but carefully manage! - more risk to bring the ratepayer maximum value. This increased demand for innovation will continue to propel the UOTF forward to take hold at utilities of all sizes and all interests within the water sector.
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Due to the July 4th holiday, there will be no Current next week. Have a happy and safe holiday!
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