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Government Affairs Committee Update Aug 2021

A preliminary class action lawsuit settlement between the Charleston Water System (Charleston, South Carolina) and wipes manufacturer Kimberly-Clark could affect any entity that owned and/or operated wastewater conveyance and treatment systems since January 6, 2018. Class members need to be aware of this settlement and how it may affect them.

According to court filings in two cases EPA intends to reconsider approval of certain Washington water quality rules, including for PCBs, and initiate a federal notice-and-comment rulemaking to propose a rule establishing protective federal human health criteria applicable to Washington State’s surface waters. EPA intends to sign this proposed rule within nine months of the date that the Court grants the proposed order, after which time the proposed rule would be subject to public comment.

30 PSA Motion for abeyance
84 WA Motion for abeyance

Idaho has assumed primacy over the remaining two areas of NPDES permitting, Biosolids and Stormwater, completing the multi-year transfer of authority from EPA.

Government Affairs Committee Update Jun 2021

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In Washington state, on May 17, 2021 Governor Inslee signed into law the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act (E2SSB5141) which will require state agencies including Department of Ecology to formally adopt environmental justice principles into their planning, budgeting, funding and regulatory processes. One example may be the attached Environmental Justice excerpt from the DRAFT WA General Biosolids Permit’s fact sheet.

The WA State Department of Ecology will release the draft Puget Sound Nutrient General Permit for public comment on June 16, 2021. See Ecology’s website for more information on the draft, its supporting documents, and July’s workshops and hearings. The comment period will close on August 2, 2021. Washington’s 2021-2023 capital budget (passed in April 2021) includes a $9 million proviso to help support optimization and planning requirements proposed in the draft permit. Ecology expects to release funding guidelines later this summer.

Oregon has a new aluminum standard effective April 19, 2021, more information here.

Oregon’s Wipes Labeling Bill Becomes Law. Oregon becomes the second state to require ‘Do Not Flush’ labeling. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed HB 2344 into law on June 8, making Oregon the nation’s second state to require “Do Not Flush” labeling on disposable wipes. The state of Washington enacted a similar requirement in 2020.

Government Affairs Committee Update Apr 2021

The latest COVID relief bill appropriated $350 billion in new Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, allowing for uses which specifically include making necessary investments in water and sewer infrastructure unrelated to COVID-19. (Section 9901)

Make Your Voice Heard!

US Capitol

WEF’s Water Advocates program empowers you to share your knowledge and expertise to inform government decision-makers about the importance of water. Two letter campaigns to congress are in progress now, and your support will increase awareness of these needs:

  • Increase Water Appropriations in FY 2022
  • Always Include Water in Infrastructure Packages

Government Affairs Committee Update Feb 2021

gov't updateThe December FY2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act included $638M for low-income water and wastewater ratepayer assistance. NACWA and other wastewater industry groups are working with the Dept. of Health and Humans Services on how to implement this program.

Government Affairs Committee Jan Update

gov't updateIdaho DEQ is conducting a negotiated rulemaking for an Arsenic Water Quality Standard. Comments on the draft rule are due January 15th. 

The Washington State Department of Ecology will hold an informational meeting on EPA’s Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Temperature in the Columbia and Lower Snake Rivers on January 28, 2021. EPA published the temperature TMDL in May 2020 and held a 90-day public comment period this past summer. Ecology is responsible for writing Washington’s implementation plan for this TMDL. We would like to meet with interested stakeholders and tribes to introduce the Ecology team who will be working on implementation, give an update on what happened in 2020, and share what we are planning for early stages of implementation in 2021. This meeting is a preliminary, informational meeting. We plan to engage more formally with stakeholders and tribes when EPA reissues an updated TMDL.
Date: January 28, 9:30 to 11 a.m.
Registration: Please register at this link to attend via Webex.
Project webpage for future updates: www.ecology.wa.gov/ColumbiaSnakeTMDL

Washington Department of Ecology DRAFT PFAS Chemical Action Plan (CAP) - Ecology has extended the public comment period from January 4 to January 22. The draft CAP addresses source control, treatment, and other controls for ongoing and legacy contamination in ground, groundwater, and surface waters. Draft PFAS Chemical Action Plan - Washington State Department of Ecology.




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Government Affairs Committee Update Dec 2020

You may have seen in the press recently that the U.S. House and Senate agreed upon a 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill. Unfortunately, this agreed-upon version dropped all the wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater provisions, as they couldn’t make the bill neutral with these provisions. It is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers only bill.

There were several workforce, stormwater, and resilience provisions in the House and Senate versions of the bill, as well as Clean Water SRF and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) reauthorization. Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee staff said that in 2021, they plan to pick up where they left off and try to negotiate agreements on stand-alone Clean Water (wastewater & stormwater) and Drinking Water bills. Sen. Schumer's (D-NY) office re-affirmed that approach yesterday. They will either try to pass those bills early in 2021 or roll them into a major infrastructure package.

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Government Affairs Committee Update Nov 2020


Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for Sept 2020.

Washington State released a draft Chemical Action Plan for PFAS, click here.

The EPA released a draft Affordability Guidance document. Here is the notice.




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Government Affairs Committee Update Sept 2020


Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for Sept 2020.

Idaho (DEQ) is developing permitting guidance for Storm Water General Permits. You can find more information here.


Oregon continues to explore regulation of PFAS, especially as it pertains to firefighting foam. Here are some more articles related to PFAS.
Michigan's new PFAS rules: 5 things to know
PFAS and Private Well Owners: What You Need to Know
EPA Awards Nearly $5 Million for New Research on Managing PFAS in Agricultural and Rural Communities | US EPA
Call for Nominations: Guidance on PFAS Testing and Health Outcomes

Government Affairs Committee Update August 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for August 2020.

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Government Affairs Committee Update July 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for July 2020.

U.S. EPA Updates
In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed itself regarding Washington’s water quality standards, replacing water quality standards it adopted in 2016 with different standards. The new rules went into effect on June 12. Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) has challenged the reversal based on the process followed. A lawsuit has also been filed by 3rd parties against the EPA. In the meantime, WA DOE seeks preliminary comments on 5 individual variances related to PCBs in the Spokane River, driven by the 2016 water quality standards.

On May 18 the U.S. EPA issued for comment a TMDL for temperature for the Columbia and Snake Rivers spanning Washington and Oregon. The TMDL includes heat load allocations for NPDES permit holders directly discharging to these rivers (both OR and WA). Comments due July 21. Read the EPA document here. 

Oregon Drug Take-Back Program
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is proposing amendments to its administrative rules at OAR 340. DEQ is planning to adopt new rules to establish a drug take-back program. The Oregon legislature adopted HB 3273 (2019) establishing a drug take-back program in Oregon and requiring DEQ to adopt rules for that program. This program is a statewide product stewardship program for safely disposing of unused medications. DEQ expects to complete this rulemaking by the fall of 2020. Click here to learn more.

Nutrients
The Washington State DOE is holding the next General Permit for Nutrients on July 16. 

Mercury TMDL
EPA is reviewing public comments on EPA’s version of a Willamette Basin Mercury TMDL.

Oregon NPDES
Oregon DEQ has issued a 5-Year Issuance Plan for NPDES permits. 

LOCAL Infrastructure Act
A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate which would reinstate the advance refunding of municipal bonds. S. 4129, the Lifting Our Communities through Advanced Liquidity for Infrastructure Act, or LOCAL Infrastructure Act

Government Affairs Committee Update June 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for June 2020.

Navigable Water Protection Rule
In a Notice published in the Federal Register on April 21, EPA and the Department of the Army (Army) finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, (the “Waters of the US Rule”), which provides updated regulations on what waters fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Several states and NGOs have challenged the new rule.

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Government Affairs Committee Update May 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for May 2020.

Idaho Biosolids and Stormwater Permits
Idaho is developing the guidance manual for the implementation of biosolids and municipal stormwater permitting, starting in July 2021. Find more information and how to participate, go here.

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Government Affairs Committee Update April 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for April 2020.

COVID-19

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Government Affairs Committee Update March 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for March 2020.
  • The White House released the President's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The proposed budget includes 27% cuts to EPA and similar cuts to the State Revolving Fund programs used to provide low-interest loans to water and sewer projects. Congress will likely discard this recommendation and draft an independent budget for EPA. EPA Budget - WEF Analysis
  • The Department of Ecology made the preliminary determination to develop a Nutrient General Permit for domestic wastewater discharges to Puget Sound. A call for nominations to the Advisory Committee closed on 2/24. This Advisory Committee includes approximately 15 people that represent dischargers, Tribes, environmental groups, state and federal agencies, agriculture, and business. The purpose of this group is to make recommendations to the Department of Ecology before the development of the preliminary permit draft. Ecology expects to have a formal draft of the permit out for public comment by the end of 2020 or first quarter 2021.
  • On February 6, 2020 the House passed the Promoting United Government Efforts to Save Our Sound (PUGET SOS) Act, H.R. 2247 sponsored by Congressmen Heck and Kilmer. Both Congressmen discussed their concern over the impacts from non-point sources into Puget Sound during the National Water Policy Fly-in and the importance of the Act.
  • WA House Bill 2565 requires specific “Do Not Flush” labeling requirements for nonflushable, nonwoven wipes, which includes the class of baby wipes, personal care wipes and household cleaning wipes. The labeling requirements include appropriately-sized, clear, and high contrast DNF symbols be placed on primary facing wipes packages. You can track the bill status here.
  • Oregon mercury TMDL for the Willamette River (based on 175g of fish consumed per day) was disapproved by EPA. EPA’s proposed TMDL prescribes decreases in discharge of ~85%. Variances are expected to be requested following rule finalization.
  • Michigan has adopted an effluent WQS for PFOS at 12 parts per trillion.

Government Affairs Committee Update Jan/Feb 2020

The Federal Government wants to modernize procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act—and the public comment period runs through March 10th. The 2020 Federal Budget passed both chambers of congress and has increased SRF funding and directives for exploring PFAs under CERCLA, read more here. Likewise, at the Supreme Court level, a case is being reviewed which will clarify regulations on point- and non-point source pollutants via groundwater to be finalized in June.

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Government Affairs Committee Update Dec 2019

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for December 2019.

  • E. Regional Office of DOE is working closely with Spokane River dischargers to reduce PCB loading to the Spokane River through requirements in their NPDES permits. All five WA dischargers into the Spokane River have requested discharger specific variances from the 7ppq PCB water quality standard. A variance is a temporary change to a water quality standard requiring Ecology to undergo a formal rulemaking effort. Ecology hopes to issue a draft response to variance requests in early 2020 and to finalize the rule by fall 2020. Find out more information here.
  • We need your help! Please take a minute to take the EPA's Nutrient Survey. The voices in the PNW need to be heard. Nutrient pollution is one of the largest environmental challenges in the country. This survey will help develop a baseline for secondary treatment plants across the nation – which will provide some idea of the costs associated with reducing nutrients on a national level. Surveys are still being accepted. You can fill out the survey here
  • PFAS continues to be a major discussion item, nationally. WEF has issued a new call-to-action requesting letters to our congressional delegations. You can find more information and WEFs form letter here
  • In September 2019, Oregon DEQ released its draft 2018/2020 Integrated Report and is soliciting comments through Jan. 6, 2019. The federal Clean Water Act requires Oregon to report on the quality of its surface waters every two years. Although not a written report, the Integrated Report is a reporting of the status of water quality in Oregon and a list of waters considered to be impaired. You can read the report here

Wastewater Project Funding Alternatives

Information compiled thanks to John Hendron and Carrie Finan.

There are several state and federal programs that provide financing to eligible entities for planning, designing, and constructing wastewater projects. Whether the goal is to build or repair collection systems or treatment facilities, these important resources can help aid in your project’s success.

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WEF Water Advocates Needs Your Voice

WE are the experts.

Let’s speak with a loud, united voice. Speak up. Share your knowledge. It is more important now than ever. Inform government decision-makers and the public about the importance of water.

Aging infrastructure, strict requirements, and continued economic pressures have put unprecedented stress on local governments and agencies that provide essential water services. Elected officials are being called upon to make tough choices that will impact water quality and the viability of our communities for generations to come.

We know there is a better path—a path that leads to public appreciation for the value of water, investment in our essential water infrastructure, and a better quality of life for our states and communities.

WEF’s Water Advocates Program is a simple and effective way for you to become more involved with engaging elected officials and the public on important water issues. The Water Advocates Program provides training and engagement to promote grassroots advocacy before elected officials and the public with the goal of creating a network of trained water advocates in every state. Continue.

Mr. Beacham Goes To Washington

Hopefully, you noticed the ode to classic films in the title of this blog post. It was a nod to the classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which Jefferson Smith, played by the inimitable James Stewart, heads to the Senate floor to defend that which he holds dear. John Beacham, PNCWA Government Affairs Chair, led an equally inspired contingent of fellow Pacific Northwest water warriors to Washington D.C. for the 2019 National Water Week Fly-In in April. The twelve-person team attended EPA workshops and visited with several members of Congress from Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. PNCWA's influence in Washington has continued to grow since the first contingent traveled to the nation's capital in 2013. Our membership is recognized as leading subject matter experts and our 1,500 members are a resource for numerous Congressional requests for information on clean water issues. Below is a recap of the visit summarized by members of the contingent themselves. We hope you enjoy their story, learn from their journey, and consider joining the Government Affairs Committee. We'd love to have you in D.C. with us in 2020.

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