NACWA Discusses New WRDA Programs With EPA Wastewater Office
(December 4, 2018) - NACWA met with the Director of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management, Andrew Sawyers, and Agency key staff on November 29 to discuss a number of issues, including several new programs created by the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 — the most recent iteration of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).
The Office of Water will be charged with managing over 30 new programs — including nine on wastewater and stormwater-related issues — as a result of the new legislation, and the Agency is now developing options for prioritizing and ramping up the new initiatives.
Much of the work on these new programs will have to wait until EPA has an official budget for the rest of Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. Currently running under a continuing resolution, EPA cannot officially put resources toward any new programs until its 2019 budget is finalized.
One of the new programs that has raised interest among NACWA members is the formation of a task force on stormwater funding. EPA will be establishing a public solicitation process for nominations for task force members and NACWA will be working with its members to ensure strong clean water utility representation.
Many of the grant programs, including a water workforce grant program and grants for combined sewer overflow/stormwater programs, that were authorized by the Act will likely have to wait until specific funding is appropriated. While NACWA is working diligently to secure funding for these programs in the FY 2019 budget, full appropriation may have to wait until FY 2020. EPA is still working to decipher exactly what some of the other WRDA programs will look like, including a wastewater technology clearinghouse.
NACWA and EPA also discussed next steps on peak flow management or blending – EPA hopes to continue active engagement with stakeholders between now and next summer when it is expected to issue a proposed rule – as well as the work the water sector has underway on affordability.