Top House Democrat Questions EPA on Blending Rule

(July 31, 2019) – The Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), sent a letter to EPA yesterday expressing concern over EPA’s current efforts to develop a rule on peak wet weather flow blending at publicly owned treatment works and asking EPA for more information on the practice. 

The letter expresses concern with EPA’s current regulatory work on blending, including the possibility that any new regulations might remove “the current prohibition on bypassing the biological treatment of sewage to remove most pathogens from wastewater.”  The letter goes on to request specific information from EPA, including the number and frequency of POTWs that blend, the typical pathogen level in blended discharges, and the number of POTWs that discharge into coastal recreational waters. 

The T&I Committee is expected to hold a hearing in mid-September with David Ross, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, and it is likely this letter – along with others that have been sent to EPA on other Clean Water Act issues – is intended to gather information that Committee members can use to question Ross.  NACWA disagrees with many of the assertions made in the letter regarding blending and will be expressing its concern to the Committee. 

EPA announced last year that it was engaging on a rulemaking around blending, and its current schedule calls for publication of a draft rule for public comment by the end of this year.  Members with questions can contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.