Senate Focuses on Affordability & Infrastructure Investment
The Senate Environment & Public Works Committee held a hearing on April 7 to examine the federal role in keeping water and wastewater infrastructure affordable for ratepayers. A number of Senators participated, including the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee, Senator James Inhofe (R-CA) and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who raised important issues regarding the level of investment needed by the federal government in the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Both agreed that more federal investment is necessary and pledged to address the issue in separate legislation the Committee is working on for later this session. NACWA submitted a written statement for the hearing, outlining three key policy pathways to ensure water and wastewater rates remain affordable, including substantially increasing funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program, modernizing the Clean Water Act so that ratepayer dollars can be better targeted toward investments with the greatest water quality benefit, and assistance programs to ensure that lower-income ratepayers continue to have access to clean and safe water.
In conjunction with the hearing, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced the Clean Water Affordability Act containing many of NACWA’s key policy recommendations for ensuring ratepayer affordability, including codifying Integrated Planning, extending NPDES permit terms, authorizing use of alternative wet weather treatment technology for sanitary sewer overflows, and reauthorization of a grant program targeted specifically for managing wet weather challenges. The Association worked closely with Senator Brown to craft many of the bill’s provisions, which track closely with provisions also contained in the House Clean Water Affordability Act introduced by Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH). NACWA sent a letter in support to Senator Brown thanking him for his leadership on this issue and urges its members to reach out to their Senators to co-sponsor the bill. Please contact
, NACWA Legislative Director, for more information about this effort.
NACWA Weighs in on Legislation to Triple Authorization for SRFs
NACWA sent a letter to Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on April 8 in support of his legislation to reauthorize the Clean Water & Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs). S. 2583, the Firm, Unwavering National Dedication (FUND) to Water Act would more than triple the authorized appropriations for the SRFs and reauthorize them through Fiscal Year 2021. Reauthorizing the SRFs would signal that Congress remains committed to the funds as a critical federal tool supporting water infrastructure needs around the country.
The FUND Water Act was one of four bills that Sen. Cardin introduced earlier this year as the Flint crisis unfolded. The need for greater federal investment as a strategy for ensuring ratepayers can afford water and wastewater services was also the subject of a Senate hearing this week (see related story). Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chair of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, signaled this week that he hopes a water and wastewater infrastructure bill – potentially including reauthorization of the SRFs – would be ready to move late this month along with Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) legislation. NACWA continues to be engaged as these proposals advance.
Wipe Flushability & Labeling Work Progresses
Work on improving the guidelines for flushability and labeling of wipes continued during meetings held April 6 and 7 by 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). The effort on wipes is an important aspect of NACWA’s ongoing Toilets Are Not Trashcans campaign and Frank Dick, Vice Chair of NACWA’s Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Committee and Industrial Pretreatment Coordinator for the City of Vancouver Department of Public Works in Washington State, participated in the April 6 meeting on NACWA’s behalf. The meeting focused on the available data on how wipes affect pumps and other parts of sewer systems and treatment plants, as well as the additional data that needs to be obtained to fully understand these impacts. The goal is to produce updated guidelines that are fully protective of wastewater utilities, with a target date of September 2016 for a final document. This effort is supported by NACWA’s Targeted Action Fund (TAF).
The April 7 meeting dealt with the INDA Code of Practice that provides guidelines for the labeling of non-flushable wipes, such as baby wipes and cleaning wipes. Although these types of wipes are not designed to be flushed, they are commonly found in sewer systems. Representatives from three NACWA Member agencies participated in the meeting: Melody LaBella, Pollution Prevention Program Coordinator for the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District; Lillian Govus, Director of Communications for the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management; and Erika Peterson, Community Relations Lead for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks. The associations developed a potential path forward for updating the Code of Practice to improve labeling and the use of INDA’s “do not flush” logo, with a goal of releasing the new Code of Practice by September.
Since both the flushability guidelines and labeling code of practice are voluntary, legislative action may be needed in the future to ensure compliance nationwide. Minnesota has already introduced legislation along these lines that would require wipes to meet certain flushability and labeling requirements. NACWA sent a letter on April 7 to the House sponsor of the legislation, echoing comments sent on March 23 to the sponsor of companion legislation in Minnesota’s Senate.
GAO Initiates Report on Green Infrastructure
NACWA met with representatives from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) April 6 to provide input on an upcoming report on how green infrastructure is being used by communities to manage urban stormwater. The report was requested by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), ranking member of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee’s Fisheries, Water & Wildlife Subcommittee. If your utility is engaged in green infrastructure work and is interested in providing input to the report, please email
, Director, Regulatory Affairs & Outreach. GAO is also interested in what metrics and data are available.
Webinar to Feature Efforts to Build the Workforce of the Future
Mark your calendars and register now for the next Enabling the Water Resources Utility of the Future Webinar scheduled for Thursday, May 19, from 2:00 – 3:30 pm Eastern. This second webinar in the series being co-sponsored by NACWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF) and WateReuse, is titled, It’s All About the People: Building the Workforce of the Future. Association Board Members Karen Pallansch, CEO of Member Agency Alexandria Renew Enterprises and Juliet Ellis, Assistant General Manager, External Affairs for Member Agency the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, will share what their utilities are doing to develop and nurture a sustainable workforce. The flyer for the event contains a registration link or simply click here to register.
NACWA Brings Clean Water Message To Michigan
NACWA participated in the Michigan Water Environment Association's Water Resource Recovery Leadership Summit on April 8, with Association CEO Adam Krantz providing an update on key national advocacy efforts to advance the Utility of the Future (UOTF) initiative. The UOTF concept received significant attention during the Summit, with many speakers addressing how clean water utilities throughout Michigan are pursuing innovative approaches to resource recovery, energy production, and biosolids management. Krantz's comments focused on how NACWA is pursuing legislative and regulatory efforts at the federal level to further support and incentivize clean water utility work on UOTF initiatives.
NACWA Member Agency the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan played a lead role in organizing the Summit. The Association is grateful for the opportunity to engage in this important discussion with Michigan utilities. NACWA is always willing and interested to participate in state and regional clean water conferences. Please contact
, Director, Regulatory Affairs & Outreach if you would like NACWA to speak at your event.
- Applications are now being accepted for NACWA's Excellence in Management (EIM) Recognition Program, which honors utilities that have implemented management practices identified by Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Water Sector Utilities and Resource Efficiency & Protection Activities. Applications are due on April 15, 2016.
- Call to Action: We are asking utilities to complete the Economic Pathways and Partners for Water Reuse Survey launched this week. The NACWA Water Reuse Workgroup assisted WERF's contractor in developing this survey to get a clearer national and regional picture of what makes reuse projects go from ideas to reality. The survey will be open through Monday, April 18 and targets not only utilities that have built or are building reuse projects, but also those that have not. You can read more about the survey here .
- Register for a webinar on the applications of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) at wastewater treatment plants hosted by the Department of Energy (DOE) Southwest CHP Technical Assistance Partnership on April 21 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm Eastern. NACWA worked with the CHP TAP to organize this webinar and will be a great opportunity to learn about the resources provided by the DOE CHP TAPs.
- Registration is now open for NACWA's Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Workshop, May 17-20 in Long Beach, CA. Optional training courses will be held on May 17, with the Workshop program scheduled for May 18-20.
- The Wet Weather Partnership will host its annual Conference, Cutting Edge Developments and Strategies for Urban Wet Weather Management Programs , in Louisville, KY, May 17-19.
- Register today for the U.S. Water Alliance's One Water Leadership Summit, June 8-10, 2016, in Atlanta, GA. The Summit is the premier gathering of the country's sharpest minds addressing our nation's most urgent water challenges to build stronger and more prosperous communities.
- The National Association of Flood & Stormwater Management Agencies (NAFSMA) has opened its 2016 Green Infrastructure Awards Program to recognize communities using GI to advance their wet weather management goals and enhance their communities. Applications are due on May 17. Applications are also available for a separate recognition program for communication around "Improving Water Quality".
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