ARCHIVE SITE - Last updated Jan. 19, 2017. Please visit www.NACWA.org for the latest NACWA information.
The House Energy & Commerce Committee held a markup on Wednesday where they approved two bills important to the clean water community. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced an amendment substitute bill to H.R. 1321, the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which was approved by the Committee. The revised version of H.R. 1321 has been strengthened to ban all plastic microbeads, whether synthetic or “biodegradable”, from cosmetics and toothpaste.
The Committee also approved by voice S.611 , a bill that increases technical assistance to rural drinking water utilities. Though providing technical assistance is important, Rep, Pallone (NJ-D) commented that more should be done to address the underinvestment in water infrastructure, as rural systems only account for 8% of water infrastructure. Pallone urged reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Funds to better tackle this national issue.
NACWA joined over 40 other associations late last week on a letter opposing Section 407 of S. 754, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). CISA would establish a legal framework to encourage industry to voluntarily share cybersecurity information with the federal government, which will help evaluate cyber threats. Section 407, however, would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), sector specific agencies (SSAs), and other regulatory agencies to assess the cybersecurity incident reporting by critical infrastructure entities and to issue a recommendation to Congress on whether to require a mandatory regulatory regime for reporting cyber intrusions to the government. This runs counter to the otherwise voluntary nature of CISA and the voluntary reporting of cyber incidents that is already done by critical infrastructure entities. NACWA and the other associations recommended that Section 407 be removed from CISA. NACWA will continue to monitor cybersecurity legislation being considered by Congress and its potential impacts on wastewater utilities.
NACWA collaborated with the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN) this week in sending a strong letter of support to Congressional leaders about the importance of including a “fix” for the Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA) in the final transportation bill now under negotiation between the House and the Senate. The measure being considered would repeal a limitation on the use of municipal bonds in conjunction with WIFIA funds to finance water and wastewater infrastructure projects. This limitation could potentially discourage municipalities from using the WIFIA program, and NACWA has strongly supported efforts to remove it.
Repeal of the municipal bond limitation was included in the Senate’s version of the transportation bill and was expected to also be included in the final conference version. This week, however, a private water company began pushing back against the fix, potentially blocking the ability of publicly owned utilities to make full use of WIFIA funds. The WIN letter reinforces the importance of the fix and its inclusion in the final transportation package. NACWA will continue to advocate in support of WIFIA and keep the membership updated on developments. Negotiations on the transportation bill are expected to continue until at least December 4.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced late last week that it had finalized its new regulations for reducing the risk of public health impacts from growing produce. Consistent with comments NACWA filed on the proposed rule, the FDA rules continue to allow the use of biosolids in growing produce as long as it is done in accordance with EPA’s Part 503 regulations.
The provision regarding the use of biosolids is brief and was unchanged from the proposal. It states: "You may not use human waste for growing covered produce, except sewage sludge biosolids used in accordance with the requirements of 40 CFR part 503, subpart D, or equivalent regulatory requirements." Covered produce refers to those produce items that are governed by the rulemaking, as defined in 21 CFR 112.1. In response to comments over concerns regarding the use of biosolids even in compliance with Part 503 regulations, FDA responded with several positive statements regarding the regulations, including: "In consultation with EPA, FDA has concluded that adherence to 40 CFR part 503 remains an appropriate approach to the use of biosolids for the growing of covered produce. We continue to believe that these requirements are appropriately protective of public health."
Despite this positive development, individual grocery companies and food certification organizations continue to place restrictions or outright bans on the use of biosolids for growing produce. NACWA is continuing its aggressive advocacy efforts to address these ongoing threats to land application.
NACWA convened a meeting of the National Stormwater Advocacy Network (NSAN) on Nov. 19 to discuss the upcoming Phase II Rulemaking. A central part of the discussion was a presentation from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) providing their thoughts on the rule and what they hope it will accomplish. NRDC and a coalition of environmental groups filed preproposal comments on the rule in October, and outlined those comments as well as their broader strategy for NSAN on the call. The environmental groups are encouraging EPA to require Phase II permits include more quantitative and measurable obligations for permittees as part of this rulemaking.
Following the NRDC presentation, NSAN members had an opportunity to discuss the rulemaking and the perspectives of the various parties involved. NACWA and NSAN are exploring potential common ground with various stakeholders as the process moves forward and appreciated the opportunity to hear from NRDC. The rule proposal is due December 17.
NACWA and seven of its Member Agencies participated in a workshop this week on the handling, management, and treatment of bio-contaminated wastewater by utilities. The workshop was sponsored by EPA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) and focused on what is needed for utilities to be able to accept wastewater contaminated with high consequence pathogens (including bacteria, spores, and viruses) from either natural causes or malicious actions. The NACWA Member Agencies that participated were the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, CA; Orange County Sanitation District, CA; DC Water, DC; the City of Austin, TX; Denver Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, CO; the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, IL; and Hampton Roads Sanitation District, VA. The workshop and follow-up activities will result in recommendations for needed research, tests, protocols, and guidance to ensure acceptably low risk to utility workers, the public, and the environment from acceptance of bio-contaminated wastes at utilities.
NACWA is a member-driven organization and the Association’s standing committees, task forces, and workgroups play a very active role in establishing and executing the Association’s advocacy agenda. Recently, NACWA’s President Adel Hagekhalil, City of Los Angeles – LA Sanitation, appointed a number of new leaders to guide the important work done at the committee, task force, and workgroup level.
Bob Steidel, of the City of Richmond, Virginia’s Department of Public Utilities will leave his role as Chair of the Association’s Security & Emergency Preparedness Committee to join Dave Wagner of the City of Lawrence Kansas’ Department of Public Utilities as Co-Chair of the Facility & Collection System Committee. Assuming the chair of the Security & Emergency Preparedness Committee is the Committee’s Vice Chair, Talyon Sortor, Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District, CA. Carol Adams of the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, PA will join the leadership as the Committee’s Vice Chair.
Angela Licata, Deputy Commissioner of Sustainability for New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection, NY has been named to serve as Regulatory Vice Chair of the Legislative & Regulatory Policy Committee. Licata joins Legislative Vice Chair Sharon Green, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, CA and Chair, Dave St. Pierre of the Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, IL to lead the Committee.
NACWA’s Utility & Resources Management Committee will now be let by Co-Chairs Logan Olds of the Victor Valley Wastewater Reclamation Authority, CA and Kellie Rotunno of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, OH. The Finance Workgroup of the Committee welcomes Eric Sandler, City & County of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, CA, as Co-Chair, joining Mark Kim, Chief Financial Officer, DC Water, DC in the leadership of this important workgroup.
Pam Perez of the City of Los Angeles – LA Sanitation and Andrew Bliss from Capital Region Water, PA have hit the ground running as the new Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of NACWA’s Communications & Public Affairs Committee.
The Association’s volunteer leaders contribute significantly to its success. NACWA expresses its great appreciation to outgoing committee leaders Beth Toot-Levy, formerly with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, OH; Jamie Sammons of the Narragansett Bay Commission, RI; Lance LeComb of the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, MO; Tom Sigmund of NEW Water, WI; and Dax Blake of the City of Columbus Department of Utilities, OH for their past and continuing commitment to the Association.
EPA’s Office of Science & Technology will host a Recreational Waters Conference April 12-15, 2016, in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Conference will focus on beach monitoring, beach notification, and implementation tools for the 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC). NACWA also anticipates that EPA’s new work to develop water quality criteria for viruses using coliphage as an indicator will be discussed. EPA is reportedly planning a special session during the conference to seek input from stakeholders on the use of coliphage. NACWA plans to attend the conference and will send more details on the coliphage session when they are available. Details about the meeting, including registration, are available on EPA’s beaches website.
Happy “World Toilet Day”! Yes, Really
Guest blogger Tricia Garrision, Communications & Education Coordinator for NACWA Member NEW Water in Wisconsin, discusses the importance of World Toilet Day and an outreach project the utility took on with the Green Bay Public Library. Was the effort be worth the flush? Read on to find more.
The next edition Clean Water Current will be published on December 4. NACWA wishes everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!
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