NACWA Weighs In with Presidential Campaigns to Advance Clean Water Priorities
NACWA sent letters to both major party presidential campaigns on August 24 encouraging the candidates to include a number of key clean water priorities in their policy discussions. The letters to the Trump Campaign and the Clinton Campaign highlight that, in the wake of the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan and the ongoing drought in the West, now is a critical time for a national discussion on the importance of water as a national issue.
In the letters NACWA specifically requests that the candidates focus on three pressing issues in particular: 1) water infrastructure investment and the importance of elevating it as a national priority; 2) the challenges many communities face in ensuring low income populations can afford rising water and sewer rates; and 3) acknowledging and supporting the remarkable innovations going on in the municipal clean water sector. The letters also note the important commitments both candidates have made to additional infrastructure investments and encourage them to specifically include water infrastructure investment in their policy proposals.
NACWA distributed a press release, as well, highlighting the letters and calling on the candidates to include discussion of water when infrastructure is discussed in the upcoming Presidential debates.
EPA to Brief NACWA on New Sludge Survey
EPA is in the planning and development stage for a new sewage sludge survey intended to update its Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey, conducted in 2006 and 2007. The Agency is currently planning to sample the same 70+ utilities that participated in the previous survey. The report from the last survey, including the list of facilities that participated, is available here.
The new sewage sludge survey will focus on compounds like Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which have received significant attention from EPA recently due drinking water contamination issues, as well as some of the same pollutants the Agency examined in the 2006/2007 survey, including metals and triclosan. EPA hopes to begin sampling in the November-December timeframe. Like the prior survey, this new survey will be conducted on a voluntary basis. EPA will request permission to sample each facility’s biosolids and will also work to complete a spreadsheet of key facility-specific information to help when preparing the final report.
Rick Stevens, head of EPA's biosolids program, will brief the NACWA Biosolids Management Committee via conference call on Wednesday, September 14 at 1:00 pm Eastern. Please email NACWA’s Chief Technical Officer Chris Hornback if you would like to participate in the call.
News Media Focuses on Great Work of NACWA Members
Media outlets around the country have run a number of stories in recent weeks highlighting the great work being done by municipal clean water agencies. In Providence, RI, the local Fox TV affiliate interviewed Ray Marshall, NACWA’s President and Executive Director of the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC), about the excellent progress that has been made cleaning up local waters and the important contribution of the NBC. Marshall also had an opportunity to talk about NACWA and its mission to advance clean water on a national level.
There was also an article in WaterWorld focusing on the increasing use of green infrastructure to both address wet weather flows and provide additional green space and community benefit. The article specifically features the green infrastructure investments being made by NACWA members the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (NJ), the City of Atlanta (GA), and the City of Seattle (WA).
A number of recent articles have also highlighted the upcoming Utility of the Future Today Recognition Program that will honor the important work of utilities nationwide to advance innovation. NACWA is pleased to be part of the recognition program and looks forward to the ceremony next month at WEFTEC16.
Registration Open for Law Seminar/ DC Workshop
Registration is now open for NACWA’s 2016 National Clean Water Law Seminar and Consent Decree Workshop. Scheduled for November 1 – 4 at the Intercontinental Kansas City at the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, NACWA has combined the Law Seminar and Consent Decree Workshop to create a singular week-long experience for clean water utility leaders and lawyers.
NACWA’s Law Seminar is the only conference of its kind focused specifically on the legal and regulatory challenges facing the municipal clean water community, with an agenda designed to benefit both lawyers and non-lawyers alike. The Consent Decree Workshop provides analysis of real world case studies, available tools, effective negotiation strategies, and areas of evolving regulatory flexibility, and will equip attendees with the most up-to-date consent decree information and resources to renegotiate existing decrees or negotiate new ones that best serve their communities and the environment. Speakers at both events will include top clean water attorneys and professionals from around the country, providing valuable analysis, real world tips, and insights relevant to any attorney or public agency manager working on municipal wastewater and stormwater issues.
Preliminary agendas and information on registration and hotel reservations is available on NACWA’s website, along with information on Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit opportunities. Make your plans today for both events and save $100 on registration!
Deadline for Permittees to Electronically Report NPDES Info Looms
A number of important deadlines in the final National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule are quickly approaching. The rule was published last year in the Federal Register (FR) and kicked off a series of key milestones for both NPDES programs and permittees.
The first major milestone for wastewater treatment plants relates to Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs). DMRs are included in the information in the first phase of the two-phased implementation schedule, and are required to be electronically transmitted beginning December 21, 2016, one year after the effective date of the final rule. While NPDES programs have spent the last year preparing for this deadline, and many utilities are already submitting DMRs to their states electronically, any who are not will need to prepare to provide their DMRs to their regulatory authority by December.
According to the schedule laid out in the final rule, EPA was to have published a list of initial recipients for electronic information by May 19, which would inform permittees where they are supposed to submit their data and the due dates for the various data submissions. On September 9th, EPA published the initial recipient list in the Federal Register. All delegated NPDES programs chose to be initial recipients for DMRs from their permittees except Georgia, Nebraska, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
States that have elected for EPA to be the Initial Recipient for all of the NPDES data groups will be using EPA’s electronic reporting tools (e.g., NetDMR, NeT) and NPDES data system (ICIS-NPDES). It should be noted that Georgia and Rhode Island elected to use EPA’s NetDMR and NPDES data system prior to the effective date of the final rule. Consequently, permittees in these two states that are already using NetDMR will not need to take any additional actions in response to Georgia and Rhode Island designating EPA as the Initial Recipient for DMRs. NPDES regulated entities in Nebraska and Oregon, however, will need to register and start using NetDMR prior to December 21, 2016. If you have questions about how your utility will be impacted by the upcoming deadline, please contact Brenna Mannion, Director, Regulatory Affairs & Outreach.
Phoenix Wastewater's Resource Recovery Initiative
NACWA member, the City of Phoenix Water Services Department, plans on reusing and selling biogas from the largest wastewater treatment plant in Arizona. Biogas – the result of the natural breakdown of organic matter in the wastewater treatment process– is currently burned through flares. This new effort involves treating 600,000 cubic feet of gas and transferring the renewable energy to a nearby commercial gas pipeline, where it will be sold.
The City engaged with a private company – Ameresco, Inc. – to build a new plant that will take the gas, treat and compress it, and then pipe it into a commercial pipeline to sell on the market. They anticipate revenues of approximately $1.2 million annually by selling the biogas from their 91st Avenue Wastewater Treatment Plant. The revenue will be shared among the cities that own the treatment plant – Glendale, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, and Phoenix.
The implementation of this project will help Phoenix exceed their goal of 15 percent renewable energy by 2025 – potentially by as soon as next year. With the addition of the biogas facility, Phoenix is expanding their admirable sustainability initiatives.
The Department handles wastewater treatment operations for 2.5 million residents in five West Valley cities. Phoenix is also recycling and reusing nearly all of the effluent coming out of the plant. More than 90 percent of their wastewater is highly treated and reused for uses in power generation, agricultural production, and wetlands restoration. Solids left over from the wastewater treatment process are applied as fertilizer in local, non-food crops.
Phoenix’s efforts are a perfect example of how NACWA members are recovering resources to decrease their costs, improve air quality, and have a positive impact on their communities.