(October 16, 2018) - Representatives from seven NACWA public member agencies participated in the October 15 EPA Stakeholder Roundtable on peak wet weather flow blending, with additional representatives attending as observers. The Agency held the invitation-only Roundtable to gather input for developing a proposed rule on blending.
Other participants in the Roundtable included representatives the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), American Rivers, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), tribes, and public health experts.
David Ross, Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Water, opened the meeting by stating that the Agency would like to provide regulatory certainty on this issue, which will allow better investment decisions. Ross explained how EPA understands that wastewater infrastructure needs billions of dollars in improvements, and every regulatory decision by the Agency is passed down to the ratepayers. Through the stakeholder roundtable and other public input, EPA is trying to determine how communities will be affected before making any decisions on a rule.
The Stakeholder Roundtable addressed three main topics associated with blending: operational challenges during peak flows, public health protection, and emerging technologies for managing peak flows. Throughout the discussion, NACWA’s representatives stressed the environmental and public health benefits of blending, which can significantly reduce basement backups and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). The NACWA representatives also explained the importance of collection system management, while pointing out the limitations of inflow/infiltration (I/I) reductions and other improvement measures.
The largest concern raised with blending by other participants was the effectiveness of disinfection for blended flows and the potential for increased pathogen discharge. Multiple participants expressed an interest in seeing more data about pathogens in blended flows and in conducting more research on this issue if needed.
EPA is also holding a series of public listening sessions to gather information for the rule, which it expects to propose in mid-2019. The first listening session was held on October 16 in Washington, DC. Two additional sessions will be held: October 24 in Lenexa, KS, and October 30 online. EPA is accepting written comments through October 31. More information about the listening sessions and written comments is available in an August 31 Federal Register notice.
NACWA will be working with its Blending Workgroup to develop written comments responding to the questions that EPA lists in the Federal Register notice. The Association encourages its members to submit their own comments and to participate in the listening sessions. Please contact Cynthia Finley, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, if you plan to participate in any of the listening sessions or submit written comments.