June 19, 2015

House and Senate Appropriations Bills Cut SRFs; Senate Bill Seeks Zero Discharge for Great Lakes

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House and Senate Appropriations bills are calling for drastic cuts to clean water funding during a time when drinking water and wastewater agencies face increased regulatory and enforcement pressures, as well as unprecedented droughts in one third of the country. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees both provide $1.8 billion for both the clean water and drinking water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) – a 23% cut from current levels. The House bill pdf button provides $1.018 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $757 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), a 30% and 16% cut respectively. The Senate breakdown is still unknown as its bill has yet to be released, but it is likely to fund the SRFs at similar levels.

NACWA was among seven water organizations that sent a letterpdf button urging Congress to stand firm on funding for clean and safe water infrastructure for fiscal year 2016. The letter specifically calls on Congress to fund the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) at $1.45 billion; fund the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) 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 Association urges Member Agencies to contact their Congressional delegation to communicate that maintaining current spending levels for the CWSRF – as well as funding for other programs – is essential to protecting their community’s clean water resources and public health. Members are invited to use the coalition letterpdf button to draft similar letters of their own to Congress. Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with any questions.

New Language Added to Senate Bill

NACWA has learned that language has been added to the Senate appropriations bill that would increase the civil penalties (starting in 2035) for overflows into the Great Lakes that violate the Clean Water Act. These increased penalties would go into a Great Lakes Cleanup Fund. The language also sets up an immediate notification system for these overflows through the states, and defines blending as a prohibited bypass. NACWA will be working to remove these provisions and generally believes that legislating through the appropriations process in this manner is ill-advised. The Association will keep members apprised as the appropriations process proceeds.

Association Urges Investment Partnerships for EPA Water Finance Center

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This week, NACWA and its Water Finance Workgroup submitted comments and suggestionspdf button for EPA to consider as they stand up the recently-announced Water Infrastructure & Resiliency Finance Center. The Center is a unique opportunity to address some of the most complex funding questions facing water utilities. In its comments NACWA encouraged EPA to carefully consider public-public partnerships and public-private partnerships, while maintaining the tools such as tax-exempt municipal bonds, which are critical to a true and lasting federal-state-local investment partnership.

NACWA Supports FTC Wipes Agreement

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NACWA submitted comments pdf button today to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommending that its proposed settlement agreement with Nice-Pak Products, Inc. be finalized without change. The agreement would prohibit Nice-Pak – which supplies wipes to retailers including Costco, CVS, and Target – from advertising its wipes as flushable unless it can substantiate that the product is safe for sewer systems, septic systems, and household plumbing. NACWA agreed with the requirement for “competent and reliable evidence” to show that the product “disperses in a sufficiently short amount of time after flushing to avoid clogging” equipment in collection systems and treatment plants. The Association stated that wastewater utility professionals must be included in evaluating this evidence, and also discussed the need for the FTC to consider the claims of other wipes manufacturers and the problems caused by wipes containing plastics.

NACWA is currently working with other associations to develop new flushability guidelines that will meet the requirements outlined by the FTC. The next meeting of the guidelines drafting committee will take place June 25-26.

NACWA Executive Director Honored at DC Event

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The Association’s retiring Executive Director, Ken Kirk, was feted on June 18 at an event in Washington, DC. Appropriately held at the Sequoia restaurant on the banks of the Potomac River, the event drew distinguished guests and officials from the federal government, the association community, and the advocacy community – as well as past and present NACWA leadership, members, and staff. All paid tribute to the significant contributions of Ken Kirk spanning his nearly 40 years in service to the Association. Kirk will retire at the end of July, after serving 26 years as NACWA’s Executive Director. Additional tributes are planned at the Association’s Utility Leadership Conference & 45th Anniversary Annual Meeting in July.

National and Western Organizations Support Huffman Drought Legislation

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Representative Jared Huffman’s (D-CA) proposed drought bill received support pdf button from NACWA and five other water organizations this week, commending its focus on water reuse. The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA); California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA); NACWA; Water Environment Federation (WEF); WateReuse; and, Western Recycled Water Coalition (WRWC) applauded the various provisions of the as-yet untitled act to both leverage existing federal policies and programs to enhance the development of new sustainable water projects – and create new programs to ensure adequate support for new recycled water supplies.

The bill:

  • Incorporates Congresswoman Edwards’ (D-MD) bill, the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act, championed by NACWA;
  • Establishes a new water recycling program through EPA; and,
  • Enacts the Bureau of Reclamation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (RIFIA) (modeled after the successful and popular Transportation Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (TIFIA) program) which would:

      • Make funds available at $50 million a year, to finance the planning, design and construction as well as the acquisition of real property;
      • Allow the Bureau to participate as a technical and financial partner with state and local water management entities to develop storage and conveyance associated with regional integrated water management, and water recycling projects with cost-shared grants of up to $15 million — program would be authorized at $150 million; and
      • Authorize the Secretary of the Interior, under specific conditions, to transfer ownership of a small Reclamation project to a non-federal entity.

National Water Quality Trading Network Releases New Resource

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NACWA participated in two events this week associated with the release of a new resource on water quality trading. The National Network on Water Quality Trading, a group of 18 diverse organizations – including NACWA – representing agriculture, wastewater and stormwater utilities, environmental groups, regulatory agencies and practitioners delivering water quality trading programs, released Building a Water Quality Trading Program: Options and Considerations pdf button during a public launch even on Thursday. On Wednesday, NACWA and other Network members briefed key leaders at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which served as an advisor to the Network, in a pre-release event for federal agencies. The ‘Options and Considerations’ document is intended to provide a reference on common elements and decisions inherent in water quality trading program design (especially point-nonpoint trading programs) and the range of available options. NACWA’s Water Quality Trading Workgroup participated in Network meetings over the past two years to provide input on the content of the document.

Seminar on Clean Water Rule, RICE Rule & State TMDL Promulgation Garners Record Participation

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NACWA’s Hot Topics in Clean Water Law web seminar drew a large crowd this week to hear three topics of great legal significance to the clean water sector. NACWA Deputy General Counsel Amanda Waters provided an abridged summary of the recently released final Clean Water Jurisdiction Rule and the implications for municipal clean water utilities. Waters also provided an overview of Congressional action in opposition to the rule, and the inevitable litigation that will ensue after the rule is published in the Federal Register. The seminar included Legal Affiliate David Friedland pdf button, of Beveridge & Diamond, presenting on recent federal litigation over EPA’s Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) Rule, and the significant legal uncertainty existing with regard to the regulatory requirements applicable to these kinds of engines. Jessica DeMonte pdf button an attorney with Legal Affiliate Squire Patton Boggs, covered a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision defining the due process requirements of state Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) promulgation and how NACWA members in Ohio and nationwide can utilize this positive precedent to make similar arguments. A recording of the webinar, presentation slides, and speaker bios are available on NACWA’s website.

Mark your calendars for the next Hot Topics Web Seminar to be held on September 16, 2015. Suggestions on topics are encouraged and should be directed to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (202/833-3692) or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (202/530-2758).

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Unmanned Aerial Systems and the Utility of the Future

Unmanned Aerial Systems (also called UAS or drones) are now inexpensive and easy to operate. UAS are already in use in many industries in the United States including energy, emergency response, and the motion picture industry. How will UAS technology effect the utility of the future (UOTF)? Read our guest blog from Dale Mullen and Tricia Dunlap from NACWA Legal Affiliate McGuireWoods LLP to find out more.