Rural Water Washington Activity Report

August 31, 2014

EPA May Use SRFs to Underwrite WIFIA - last week EPA officials indicated that they may choose to allow SRF funds to be co-mingled with WIFIA loans.  NRWA is questioning if EPA has the discretion based on statute and EPA precedent (EPA previously determined that all funds associated with the SRF were “federal funds” for purposes of applicability of prevailing wage provisions).  The WIFIA statute prohibits the use of federal funds for the match portion of WIFIA loans.  The private water lobby has commented to EPA in favor of using SRF funds to underwrite WIFIA loans (comments).  NRWA is considering providing the following comments to EPA:

EPA Accepting Nominations for the National Drinking Water Advisory Panel (EPA) - NRWA will be nominating Rural Water of Utah Association Board Member Paul Fulgham.

NRWA Cyber Plan - last week a number of state association executive directors met with the DHS ICS-CERT agency to discuss a model small and rural water utility cybersecurity plan that any and all water utilities could complete to assess their cybersecurity profile, identify their current level of cybersecurity protection, implement some appropriate security measures, and determine what additional protections would be useful.

St. John the Baptist Parish Finds Naegleria Fowleri in Their Water - the deadly amoeba that can infect the brain.  Parish to perform a chlorine burn throughout its water system to kill the amoeba.  Why chlorine levels dropped below state required levels is now under investigation (more).  Could compliance with the EPA DBP rule be affecting parish's chlorine level?  The parish has DBP violations (EPA).

Kentucky Rural Water Association's New President (KRWA) - and, Glasgow Water has been selected for the highest honor the Kentucky Rural Water Association bestows – the Wooden Bucket Award (news).

EPA Lead and Copper Rule Changes - EPA will hold another forum of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) Lead and Copper Rule Working Group (LCRWG) on September 18, 2014, in Washington (EPA).  The forum will focus on LCR revision issues associated with lead sampling protocols and public education requirements.  NRWA is represented on the panel by Mass. Rural Water's John Sasur.  NRWA is advocating for an alternative to in-home monitoring during these discussions/negotiations.

Two Sewer Workers Die from Toxic Fumes Outside Scottsdale, Arizona - weren't wearing full protective gear for an unknown reason (news).

Benefits of Large Dams Don't Outweigh Social Costs (NYTimes).

NatGeo Feature on Detroit Water Crisis - poor residents strain to pay bills, neighbors and activists step up (NatGeo).

MRWA Announces New Partnership with Brightergy - to upgrade water facilities’ lighting to high efficiency lights at discounted rates and no upfront costs.  Several MO rural water members installed solar arrays to supplement their power needs through the partnership (MO RWA).

Central California Residents Rely on Bottled Water as Wells Run Dry (LATimes).

August 24, 2014

EPA Explains CWSRF Changes - including new grants, expansion of uses of CWASRF funding, and new priorities (EPA guidance).  New technical assistance provision only provides “loans” for states to fund technical assistance.  This provision will have to be fixed by Congress.

Bureau of Reclamation is "Unmoral" - on Friday, the Bureau announced that it will be releasing water over the next several weeks to aid chinook salmon on the Klamath and Trinity rivers. In response the Director of San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water said, "the Bureau of Reclamation is dumping precious Central Valley Project water while the people of our valley suffer from well-documented and widely reported social and economic destruction as a result of government policies compounded by the drought. While over 2,000,000 acres of farmland throughout the Central Valley, which produces over half of the nation's fruit, nuts and vegetables, continues to have a 0 percent water supply from the Central Valley Project, Reclamation has determined there is somehow enough water available to let it go down the Lower Klamath River in the hope it may help conditions for unthreatened salmon. This decision is wrong – both scientifically and morally" (more).

AWWA Leads Growing Calls for Increased Subsidies for Private Water - last week AWWA said,  "they would like Congress to ensure that SRF authorizing language doesn't discriminate against privately owned water systems."  This is in addition to their advocacy to divert SRF funding for WIFIA type funding for private water corporations.  When the CEO of Philadelphia Suburban Water Corporation was asked how his company will make profit in the water business.  He had only one response, to “consolidate” the over 50K water systems in the country.  When asked if that was their main strategy, the CEO gave a simple declaratory, “yes.”

Former CIA Chief Says EMP Attack Most Significant Threat to U.S. Water Supplies (WSJ).

Lead and Copper Health Effects - last week EPA provided a comprehensive briefing on the status of the risk from lead and copper in drinking water.  These findings will be part of the changes to the LCR currently being crafted by EPA and stakeholders (recording and PPTs of presentation).

Boil Order in Flint (MI) for Contaminant Not a Health Risk -  boil water advisory called after “coliform bacteria” was found in the drinking supply.  The new total coliform rule finds coliform bacteria not a risk to health and focuses boil orders on E. Coli detections (local news).

New Cybersecurity Water Report from DHS - finds many water utilities have industrial control systems (ICS) that are isolated from general information technology (IT) enterprise systems, but trends of increasing connectivity and automation are increasing cyber security risks.  Not all processes that use control systems can be managed directly by operators as a backup.  In isolated cases, equipment is fully automated and there is no capability to manually operate a device.  Generally, vulnerabilities in ICS and other IT systems are compounded if there is also inadequate physical security, direct or indirect connection to the internet, or a malicious or negligent insider.  Under such circumstances, cyberattacks are more likely to succeed (DHS Report).

EPA to Offer Webinar on Moving Toward Water Sustainability - will highlight utility programs to

implement proven and progressive sustainability practices (October 30, 2014).

 

How Is Successful Rural Water Development in Rural Burkina Faso Similar to Rural USA? - both depend on the local people taking responsibility for developing, operating, financing, and maintaining the water supply.  This week in Burkina Faso, a new initiative to use local manual labor to drill water wells was highlighted for achievement (more).  In testimony before the House of Representatives, Jim Dunlap (NM RWA) said, “In my personal experience, two teachers, four farmers, one banker, and a group of kids from the Future Farmers of America acted locally to bring the first piped drinking water to my part of San Juan County in 1966.  I was one of the two teachers.  The community had been relying on groundwater from individual shallow wells contaminated with minerals, oil, and methane gas for their farms and some household uses.  Safe water used for drinking needed to be hauled in from town.  We organized the 175 families in the area to incorporate a small rural water system and accept responsibility for repaying a 420 thousand-dollar start up loan.  At that time we did not have enough people to meet the threshold for population density to repay a loan, so a few of us accepted more than one water meter on our property.”

EPA Webinar on SRF Cash Flow Modeling - on August 20th, on approach to disbursing SRF funds. The idea of a cash flow approach is to prevent ULO build-ups by having an ongoing flow of money

coming in and going out.  Contact us for more details.

E. Coli Found in The Town of Fair Haven Water - issues boil-water order.   The town said Tuesday that fecal coliform was found in the system (news).

August 17, 2014

Campaign to Fix EPA - legislation (S. 864) that allows EPA technical assistance to be fully available in your state continues to be blocked in the Senate by one senator.  However, some tangential good is occurring out of this campaign.  It has attracted the attention of a number of Senators asking NRWA for ideas how to reform the federal regulatory program to save funding and improve public health protection.  We will be submitting ten proposals for reform of the current federal regulatory program to Senator Paul and other interested Senators over the next few months (see proposal 1 of 10).

EPA Report on Small Systems Improvement -  and gauging agency’s performance.  Prioritizes state primacy agency activities.  “These efforts include strengthening and targeting financial support to small systems, enhancing state Capacity Development programs and capabilities, and improving state participation in the Optimization program so that efforts focus on those systems most in need.”  Report mentions Texas, New York and Wyoming Rural Water Associations (report).

Oklahoma Professor Publishes Scholarly Article Criticizing Section 1926(b) Protection - professor questions protection in the context of federalism (study).  Lead 1926(b) Attorney, Dennis O’Toole says, “What the article never mentions is the numerous times we lawyers literally beg the other side to read the case law and statutes so as to avoid litigation. I did this most recently in the City of Chillicothe case, even bringing some of my cases and Steve Harris’ to show the city law director her folly in pursuing expansion into Ross county water’s territory.  Made no difference whatsoever.  So the city paid its special counsel as well as us after losing at the trial level and the appellate level.  Seems to me the article should have focused on hard headed and wrong minded administrators that have a bent to impose their will on rural water districts regardless of federal protection.”

 

Reforming the EPA Lead Rule Continues This Week - NRWA will be represented by John Sasur of Mass Rural Water Association.  This week’s subtopic will be the public health effects of lead in drinking water and public education (agenda).

New Technical Assistance Program Within the Clean Water Act SRF (CWSRF) - Ruth Hubbard (MN RWA) is leading the effort to understand the new CWSRF provision.  Ruth’s contacts have shown that the EPA and states are working to understand the new provision and some are reading the new provision as to only provide “loans” for technical assistance.  NRWA is urging states and EPA to use this provision in the EPA appropriations act to make grants under the new technical assistance provision: "That not less than 20 percent but not more than 30 percent of the funds made available under this title to each State for Clean Water State Revolving Fund capitalization grants and not less than 20 percent but not more than 30 percent of the funds made available under this title to each State for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund capitalization grants shall be used by the State to provide additional subsidy to eligible recipients in the form of forgiveness of principal, negative interest loans, or grants (or any combination of these), and shall be so used by the State only where such funds are provided as initial financing for an eligible recipient or to buy, refinance, or restructure the debt obligations of eligible recipients only where such debt was incurred on or after the date of enactment of this Act; except that for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund capitalization grant appropriation this section shall only apply to the portion that exceeds $1,000,000,000..." (Public Law 113-76).

KY Water Tower Collapse Damages Church (news and pictures).

Gretna’s (LA) Drinking Water is Safe After Ship Collision on Mississippi River That Caused Oil Spill (more).

Wisconsin River of Legendary Executive Director, Environmentalist, Dog Breeder and Author Ken Blomberg, Polluted by Million Gallons of Manure - from storage tank on farm running into a nearby wetland and eventually into the Little Eau Pleine River (more).

Wisc. Huge Manure Digester Explodes - when gas inside the digester exploded, sending up a plume of smoke visible for miles (more).

August 10, 2014

Congress Passes New Technical Assistance Program Within the Clean Water Act SRF - On June 10, 2014, President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA) into law.  The legislation makes a number of changes to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF).  NRWA urged Congressional leaders to include additional technical assistance opportunities within the CWSRF (NRWA). The following is the new technical assistance provision recently authorized within the CWSRF, the provision is in effect.  

Section 603 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1383) is amended--(1) by striking subsection (c) and inserting the following: (c) Projects and Activities Eligible for Assistance.  The amounts of funds available to each State water pollution control revolving fund shall be used only for providing financial assistance... (11) to any qualified nonprofit entity, as determined by the Administrator, to provide assistance to owners and operators of small and medium publicly owned treatment works (A) to plan, develop, and obtain financing for eligible projects under this subsection, including planning, design, and associated preconstruction activities; and (B) to assist such treatment works in achieving compliance with this Act.”

NRWA to Comment to EPA on WIFIA - we are in the process of drafting comments to EPA on the implementation of WIFIA.  This is in addition to NRWA’s advocacy in support the SRFs; that all EPA water infrastructure funding should be dedicated to the SRFs (more).  Both the House and Senate Appropriations EPA Subcommittees have agreed with NRWA and provided no funding to the new WIFIA program.  Last week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee criticized the effort to use the SRFs to fund other programs, “It is concerning that the administration continues to propose drastic reductions to SRFs in order to offer investments in other areas of the Agency’s budget even though similar proposals have been rejected by the Committees on Appropriations in prior fiscal years.  While many of the proposed initiatives in the budget request are meritorious and deserve future consideration, it is not an acceptable tradeoff to increase internal agency programs at the expense of these infrastructure funds…”  Regarding our comments to the EPA, we are considering urging the agency to limited the ability of SRFs to be used to underwrite WIFIA projects (this is being proposed by large water utility associations) and ask EPA if it is appropriate to limit subsidies to corporate water companies with large provide margins (i.e. exceptional bonuses, owning sports skyboxes, etc.).

EPA Considers New Tank Inspection Requirements - Florida Rural Water Association Invited to Brief National Policymakers on Potential New Rule (EPA draft agenda).  

Next National Drug Take Back Event is September 27, 2014 - providing a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications (U.S. DEA).

Washington Post On Water Conservation Resulting in Higher Rates (WaPost).

Latinos Support New EPA Water Rule (more) - “the threat of polluted waterways disproportionately affects Latinos, both in terms of economic and public health concerns.  While EPA is claiming the new rule does not expand EPA authority, the groups support for more stringent environmental protections and strong regulatory language.  

NPR on Outdated U.S. Water Laws Resulting in CA Drought, Toledo Contamination, Lake Mead Decline, and Charlestown Contamination from NPR (more).

Dutch Scientist Develops New Way to Turn Sludge into Drinking Water (more).  Man-made Wetlands Turn Wastewater into Tap Water (more).

Water 2014 - Vermont Environmentalists Collect Their Urine with Special Toilets (NPR), Feces-Clogged Shores in Accra (more); where most of its citizens to choose between communal latrines or defecating on open ground and face cholera.  As many as seven out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to flush or chemical toilets or latrines.

News Report on Missouri Not Using Water Money (more).

Private Water Says More Regulations Are Needed In Response to Toledo - Keith Cartnick, with United Water said industry is indeed asking for more regulation.  According to Veolia Water is is a “myth that a private company will only drive costs up - so it can make a profit” (more).

Seventy-five Years After Getting Electricity Rural Illinois Gets Water - 169 residents of rural Millstadt and Stookey Township, who have relied on wells, cisterns and ponds, will tap into a new co-op.  The $2.6 million project is being funded through a $1.75 million, 40-year loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development (more).

Five People Injured Unloading Sodium Hydroxide at Georgia Water Plant (more).

August 3, 2014

Senator Reed (RI) Restores SRFs, Rejects WIFIA - Senator Reed’s Appropriations Subcommittee released their FY2015 EPA budget bill on Friday (more) which restored the proposed SRF cuts contained in the House EPA budget bill and the EPA’s budget request.  NRWA, state agencies and environmentalists urged the Senator not to divert SRF funds to the new WIFIA funding program which opens up EPA water infrastructure subsidies to corporate water (statement).  Private water companies and AWWA have been urging Congress to steer more subsidies to corporate water (more).

EPA Funding Priorities Chart

FY2014

Admin. FY2015

House FY2015

Senate FY2015

DWSRF

$906,896,000

$757,000,000

$757,000,000

$906,896,000

CWSRF

$1,448,887,000

$1,018,000,000

$1,018,000,000

$1,448,887,000

TA

$12,700,000

$0

$12,700,000

$15,000,000

WIFIA

NA

NA

$0

$0

The Power of An Association,” After a Visit in DC by Kentucky Rural Water Association, Senator Rand Paul Becomes Rural Water Supporter - and of legislation (S. 864) that allows EPA technical assistance to be fully available in your state.  Senator Paul has also offered to assist in advancing regulatory reform in the U.S. Senate.  NRWA suggested that the Senator start with changing the manner that EPA requires public notice subsequent to violations of EPA rules (namely the DPBs rule).

New Effort to Divert SRF Funding Into New WIFIA Program - large water utility associations urge EPA to allow SRF funds to be used to underwrite WIFIA projects after funds are sent to states (statement, page 3).  This latest effort is in addition to WIFIA advocates urging for EPA appropriations to be diverted to WIFIA before the funds are apportioned to the states (more).

Are WIFIA Supporters Obscuring Corporate Water Support? - recent statement by WIFIA supporters conspicuously does not include former collaborator and WIFIA supporter, NAWC.

Large Water Utility Associations Support WIFIA, But Individual Large Utilities Might Not - we are hearing that many large communities don't support WIFIA because they prefer municipal financing and the SRFs - and don't want to rely on private equity and a new program that is unclear and more

likely unworkable.

Toledo (OH) to Resident: "DO NOT DRINK THE WATER," Microcystin, "Boiling Water Will Increase the Concentration of the Toxins," Caused by Farmers, State of Emergency, National Guard Deployed, Climate Change Intensifying, 400,000 People Impacted (more). 

20 Million Gallon Water Main Break at the University of California Los Angeles - two water lines “operating at high pressure” met at a juncture involved in the break (video).

CFATS Moves Forward in Senate - on Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved a four-year authorization of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) by passing an amended version of H.R. 4007, the "Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards Program Authorization and Accountability Act of 2014. The Senate Committee took up the bill after it won strong support by the full House earlier this month.  The bill retains the exemption of new regulations on water and wastewater utilities.  NRWA has continually opposed including water and wastewater utilities within CFATS (statement).  It is estimated that including water under this regulatory scheme would cost water utilities $146,629,000.

July 28, 2014

Campaign to Fix EPA Funding - Senators Paul (KY) and Coburn (OK) remain opposed to S. 864 (a bill that allows EPA technical assistance to be fully available in your state), blocking the bill for consideration in the U.S. Senate.  It appears Senator Paul's opposition has changed from thinking there is too much rural water technical assistance to that bill is an impediment to repealing EPA regulations.  Senator Coburn claims there are inefficiencies how federal technical assistance funds are delivered causing his opposition.

9/11 Commission Report Authors Warn Nation of Cyberattack Threats (more).

White House Rural Council Announces $10 Billion Private Investment Fund to Finance Job-Creating Infrastructure Projects in Rural America (more).

Texas has the Highest Percentage in the Nation of Public Water Systems With Quality Issues According to the EPA (more).

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Visits Drought-stricken Homeowners in Central California - homeowner told Vilsack the running water in her home now came via a garden hose connected to a neighbor's well (more).

China River Turns Blood Red (ABC news).

Akron (OH) Tells Congress EPA Rules Cost Them $865 Million - the city raised rates more than 150 percent.  But costs are escalating and new costs would leave 15 percent of the city's households paying more than 10 percent of their annual incomes toward the projects (more).

PETA to Pay for Detroiters Water Bills If They Go Vegan (more).

Headline: "Creek County Rural Water District No. 2 violates drinking water standards... Infants, the elderly and people with a severely compromised immune system may be at increased risk and should seek advice from their healthcare providers about drinking water."  The violation is for trihalomethanes and haloacetic acids received April 2013 through March (more).  What does EPA say about the health effects of these substances?  “That a causal link between adverse reproductive or developmental health effects and exposure to chlorinated drinking water or DBPs has not been established… Despite inconsistent findings across studies…  that no dose-response relationship or causal link has been established between exposure to chlorinated drinking water or disinfection byproducts and adverse developmental…  EPA's evaluation of the best available studies, is that they do not support a conclusion at this time as to whether exposure to chlorinated drinking water or disinfection byproducts causes adverse developmental and reproductive health effects…" (cite).

Wake Forest (NC) Residents Believe Their Water Made Them Sick Because They Never Got Boil Order Notice (more).

North Carolina Town Denies Water Service to Illegal Immigrants (more).

Wood County (WI) Considers Ban on Aerial Manure Spreading - today's manure has more chemicals from antibiotics given to cows and chemicals that are used to clean barns (more).

July 21, 2014

Campaign to Fix EPA Funding - Senators Paul (KY) and Coburn (OK) are the only two Senators opposing legislation (S. 864) that allows EPA technical assistance to be fully available in your state.  Their opposition to the bill is the only thing blocking the bill from being considered in the U.S. Senate under unanimous consent (almost guaranteeing passage).  The lack of this type of law (reauthorization) caused ALL the EPA technical assistance to be zeroed out in fiscal years 2007 and 2011, and greatly diminished in fiscal years 2012, 2013 and likely in 2014.  The Senators have raised the following concerns over the bill: (1) that there is currently too much technical assistance (this is redundant), (2) that there is not competition in the awarding of funds, and (3) this bill would result in spending additional federal funds.

EPA Investigator General Report on States NOT Spending SRF Funds (Report).

Media Attack on Congressman for Standing Up Against Over-regulation, NRWA Responds Using New Media (statement).

NRWA Advocates for Relief from the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) – the EPA workgroup reviewing revisions to the LCR has released a very helpful library consisting of agendas, documents, meeting summaries, etc. of the deliberations that have been occurring all year (link).  NRWA is represented on the panel by NRWA board member and Mass. Rural Water board member John Sasur.  Last week, a rural water member from Idaho suggested NRWA support permanent waivers for certain systems: "Although the LCR was productive to some extent, enough years of sampling have gone by to identify water systems that are merely wasting revenue by continued sampling (ours being one of them).  Modern plumbing materials insure that future sample results can only decrease.  The ‘one size fits all’ regulatory mentality is ridiculous.  We have no reason to conduct corrosion control treatment, no lead pipes, lead or copper levels of concern.  We do not plan to develop a different water source.  I would think a permanent waiver would be appropriate, with the condition that it could be withdrawn if a change warranted it.”  NRWA negotiator on the panel, John Sasur replied, Agreed, as a small system operator and sitting on the committee, this is one of our primary goals.  As it stands now, it seems only a system with plastic pipe, fittings and valves and homes with all the same non-metal plumbing would qualify for 9 year exemptions.   It would be valuable if someone could find out how many systems meet this criteria and have this waiver.  So, we have to be prepared to make a good case as to why would allowing more waivers be a benefit to the Rule's intent of better public health.  Your input will be very helpful.” 

Norovirus in the Water Sickens Swimmers in Idaho, Washington.

E. Coli Found in Drinking Water in Ryan, Oklahoma (news), Bloomfield, NJ (news), and 13 cases of disease related E. Coli from food in Minnesota (news).

Wisconsin State Agency Reports Good News - 96% of public water supply systems report no violations, continuing their excellent record of serving water that met all health-based standards.  "Wisconsin's water systems continued their exemplary performance over the past year while making important progress to safeguard our water for the future," says Wisc. DNR.  "This record of achievement reflects an exceptional level of public and private collaboration as operators work to implement the latest science-based practices into their daily system management" (announcement).

EPA Updates Enforcement and Compliance History Online - known as ECHO, which provides information about environmental inspections, violations, and enforcement actions for EPA-regulated facilities, including those regulated under the Clean Water Act (EPA).

July 13, 2014

House EPA Appropriations Committee Funds SRFs, Not WIFIA - last week the House EPA appropriations subcommittee passed their FY2014 EPA funding bill (more).  NRWA, state water agencies and environmental groups urged the committee to use all water appropriations for funding the SRFs versus WIFIA, because WIFIA circumvents the targeting of funding to the most needy projects and state priorities (statement).  Corporate and large water supplies favor WIFIA (more).  One of the faults of the SRF identified by large utilities is “the drinking water SRF… must give highest priority to projects where there is the most immediate threat to public health” (more).  The Senate Committee may produce a bill in the coming weeks.  Alabama Rural Water Association is urging their Senator, who is ranking on the Senate Committee, to follow the House’s decision and fund the SRFs (more).

Michigan Public Radio’s Alarm on Arsenic in the Water and Slanders Idaho Congressman (more) - NRWA will respond this week and provide an objective analysis this week.

United Nations Weighs in on Detroit Water Shutdowns - “Disconnection of water services because of failure to pay due to lack of means constitutes a violation of the human right to water and other international human rights” (United Nations).

Corporate Water Bill Rejected in the Senate - bill would have provided more tax breaks to private water projects.  The Senate Finance Committee rejected an amendment that would raise the cap on tax-exempt private activity bonds (PABs) for water infrastructure projects on Thursday.

Water Is the Biggest Obstacle Facing Golf Says USGA (more).

The House Passes Chemical Security Bill That Specifically Exempts Water Utilities (more) - on Tuesday.  The bill would reauthorize the DHS's troubled Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program and add new accountability measures for the department.  NRWA has continually opposed including water and wastewater utilities within CFATS (statement).  It is estimated that including water under this regulatory scheme would cost water utilities $146,629,000.  Now the process will moves to the Senate.  Senator Carper (DE), the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has been working on a companion bill, to be called the "Protecting American Chemical Facilities From Attack Act."

“Everything’s Fixed now,” Says Town Manager - A Three Man Crew from NCRWA has Arrived (more).

18-Wheeler That Plunged Into The Augusta Canal Could Contaminate Drinking Water (more).

Wichita Falls (TX) on Wednesday Began Reusing Treated Wastewater (more).

July 6, 2014

House EPA Appropriations Subcommittee Mark-up Wednesday – first release of funding levels for technical assistance, SRFs, and WIFIA (announcement).

Getting EPA Technical Assistance Fixed – the process of "hotlining" S. 864 continues in the Senate.  Senators Coburn (OK) and Paul (KY) continue to block Senate consideration of S. 864 because they believe EPA technical assistance is duplicative of the USDA technical assistance.  Unfortunately their opposition of S. 864 allows the funding to be utilized by EPA for their priorities at the expense of helping small and rural communities in their states.

NRWA, SCRWA, and Chesterfield County Rural Water Tell EPA to Change Public Notice Policy – at last week’s EPA public meeting on the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 4 (UCMR4).  “These are, by definition, unregulated elements and/or compounds found in water samples. The term ‘contaminant’ has a negative connotation for customers, when another, less alarming and more accurate term could be used if a utility is going to be required to report findings.  It is unclear and apparently undefined as to the concentration of the elements or compounds that may cause some detrimental impact on public health. As such, it seems reporting these findings without clear determination of what accepted levels are considered unsafe concentrations is premature and unwarranted” (full text of comments).

18-Wheeler That Plunged Into The Augusta, GA Canal Could Contaminate Drinking Water (more).

USDA Water & Environmental Programs Annual Report – including state by state funding levels.  In fiscal year 2013, USDA invested $1.3 billion in direct and guaranteed loans and grants to help rural communities develop 788 water and waste disposal projects that have helped safeguard the health of 1,799,711 rural residents.  These investments will provide safe, affordable water, sewer, and

waste disposal services to rural communities (report).

How Does E. Coli In Drinking Water Occur? – “One of two things can happen,” says Don Beatty, the director of Windsor Public Works. “Either someone would have touched the sample bottle and contaminated it, or there could have been a problem with the lab-testing procedures” (more).

Water Main Blows When Contractors Tap Main (more).

June 29, 2014

Will WIFIA Be Funded This Year – the House and Senate EPA funding subcommittees should announce their decision to fund WIFIA in the coming weeks.  Many of the key leaders on the appropriations committee making the decision will see their states or districts lose funding if WIFIA is funded as oppose to dedicating the funding to the SRFs (including Senators Shelby, Reed - and Representatives Rogers and Clavet).  WIFIA will have the effect of diverting funding from the most needy projects to less needy and corporate water projects (more).

Fix EPA Funding Campaign Launched – this week when the North Dakota Rural Water Systems Association's Senator Heitkamp (Democratic sponsor of S. 864) begin the process to "hotline" the bill for unanimous consent (UC) consideration on the Senate Floor.  The Senate Republicans (lead by Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker) have cleared all but 1 Senator.  Make sure your Senator is supporting S. 864 (more).

Detroit Water Crises – city sets a target of cutting service to 3,000 customers a week.  Water department sent out 46,000 warnings.  The city says that cutting off water is the only way to get people to pay their bills.  Utility is currently owed $90 million from customers.  Nearly half the city's 300,000 accounts are past due (more).

West Virginia Rural Water Member’s Idea to Help Consumers with Unpaid Bills – “allow people to pay their water bills with food stamps (SNAP card). If you look at the photo in the story, you will see a bottle of water that probably cost $3.00 and was probably paid for with a SNAP Card.  Our water utility could supply approximately 300 gallons to this home for $3.00.  If water utilities were allowed to accept the SNAP card for payment of water services it would benefit the utility and the customer.  The customer would be more likely to use the SNAP card to pay their water bill and use the money saved to buy gas to travel to work, look for work or purchase some of the other necessities of life.  Also, the water utilities would have a better revenue stream that would allow them to maintain their systems and to repay their bond payments…”

Half of Europe’s Water Threatened by Pollution (more).

Wisconsin to Cease MCL Violations for Total Coliform Detects Stating This Week – the new requirements include provisions on disinfection residuals and assessments to determine the cause of positive samples.  The state’s guidance document is available on the WRWA website.

Stabbing at Carthersville City Hall (MO) Regarding Collection of Water Bill (more).

25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources (more).

June 20, 2014

Large Water Utilities Tell Congress Their Projects Are “Too Large for the SRF,” But They Are Not – this week’s campaign by large water utility interests to fund WIFIA includes advice to tell Members of Congress “that you have a project too large for an SRF.”  However, there are not projects too large for the SRFs - see contradictory response from the Association of Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA).  WIFIA will have the effect of diverting funding from the most needy projects to less needy and corporate water projects (more).

What to Tell Members of Congress About the SRFs and WIFIA?  “As Congress considers appropriations levels for competing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water infrastructure programs including the recently authorized Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, your state's water agencies, most all of your state's water utilities, all your state’s small and rural communities, and many in the environmental community urge you to use all EPA water infrastructure appropriations for the state revolving loan funds (SRFs).  The SRFs are preferable because the WIFIA program:

Currently most SRF funding is allocated to large communities.  Please see the recent state and local governments’ letter to the Appropriation Committees and the NRWA fact sheet for details.”

California to Vote on $10.5 Billion Water Bond Program (more).

Section 1926(B), City of Ames (IA) Complains tom U.S. Senate Again - Rural Water District Responds with Facts – Ames recently complained again to their Senators about 1926(b) protection, claiming the protection unfairly restricts developed.  However, their neighboring rural water district has compiled a capacious amount of facts and offers to collaborate that clearly counter the city’s assertion (link).  In this case, like all others, 7 USC §1926(b) is not an impediment to a fair and reasonable resolution to the local territorial dispute.  It is the essential limited protection that ensures economic growth within a rural water district’s service area (occurring outside of municipal boundaries) results in advancing public health, future development, expansion of water service and reduction of the cost of water service for everyone.  This controversy resulted from the city’s demand to only accept a unilateral solution where the city assumes the rural water district’s territory and the future benefit of any economical development.  When the rural water district replies that they will provide adequate water service to the territory, but they need to know what the water demand will be, the city will not cooperate or respond.  Then, the city proceeds to tell Senators that the district will not cooperate and forfeit their territory.  A rural water district (or a city) can’t simply run industrial capacity water lines to an area without knowing what development will occur.  Most of the membership of NRWA is municipalities, and we would only support protection that works fairly for both the cities and the rural water supplies.

South Carolina Rural Water to Testify This Week on Including UCMR Detects in CCRs – EPA is holding a Public Meeting regarding revisions to the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) on June 29.  SCRWA has been leading on the effort to review the mandate to include UCMR results in CCRs, and has requested an opportunity to provide testimony during the EPA event.  We will post the comments here next week.  Should UCMR results be included with CCR or made publicly available in different manner to not mischaracterize the public health relevance?  

Senators Introduce Legislation to Stop EPA Waters of the U.S. Rule (more).

President Obama Unveils New Disaster Resilience Funding Program – a $1 billion program to help support communities that have already experienced severe weather; support “innovative” local resilience projects; and encourage communities to make policy changes that account for extreme weather and climate change impacts (more).

Chlorine Used in a "Systematic Manner" as Chemical Weapon in Syria (BBC).

June 15, 2014

Getting EPA Technical Assistance Fixed – currently, most of the funding Congress provides to the EPA for technical assistance for small and rural communities is not used where it is most beneficial in your state.  The solution to this problem is for Congress to pass S. 864 & H.R. 654, The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act (NRWA statement).  If your Congressmen or Senators are willing to stand up for your state’s small and rural communities, please contact us and we will tell them how.

EPA Extends Comment Period for New Rules on Waters of the United States under the federal Clean Water Act – The federal agencies added an additional 90 days in extending the deadline for comments to Oct. 20 (more).  NRWA is very interested in reviewing all members’ comments on the rule before commenting.  We have only received comments from the Executive Director of SCRWA who provided an excellent analysis of the rule in response to a Congressional request, commenting, “the proposed Rule does assert CWA jurisdiction over tributaries and wetlands adjacent to and draining into traditional navigable waters, including on a case by case basis “other waters” (determined by an analysis of significant nexus).  An Economic Analysis report that accompanied the proposed rule stated that approximately 3% of US waters would additionally be subject to CWA jurisdiction..” (comments).

 

Last Week NRWA, States, and Environmentalists Stand Up to Large Utilities’ Effort to Circumvent SRFs’ Needs Based Priorities (statement).  This week we plan on expanding our advocacy in Congress to collaborate with Congressional groups opposed to corporate welfare, supportive of rural and small communities, and who don’t want to subvert state authority.

Rural Water Advocacy Saves Membership Over $146 Million – on June 6, 2014, the federal governments working group released their report on implementing Executive Order (EO) 13650 - Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security to enhance the safety and security of chemical facilities and reduce risks associated with hazardous chemicals to facility workers and operators, communities, and responders.  The report recommends elimination the current exemption for water and wastewater treatment facilities from federal chemical security regulations.  NRWA has long-opposed more regulation of water supplies for chemical security (more).  It is estimated that this regulation would cost water utilities $146,629,000.

Rural Water in the News This Week

EPA Webinar on Communicating About Harmful Algal Blooms – June 18, 2014 to explain and report on harmful algal blooms to the public (more).

June 8, 2014

NRWA, States, and Environmentalists Stand Up to Large Utilities’ Effort to Circumvent SRFs’ Needs Based Priorities (statement).

NRWA Announces National Cybersecurity Initiative After White House Decision (more).

Gold in the Drinking Water in Montana (more).

Utah Rural Water Stands Up the SRFs Against WIFIA – last week the Rural Water Association of Utah contacted their Congressional representatives saying, We have had several conversations regarding the apparent competition for funding between the Safe Drinking Water Act authorized State Revolving Funds (SRF) and the Water Resource Development Act authorized Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). Attached is a fact sheet put together by our national association regarding those two methods of funding water infrastructure development.  We continue to believe that the SRF gets funding where it is most needed. The allocation of funds is done  through a state controlled process rather than one controlled at the federal level.  Please remind your boss of the importance of not giving the SRF short shift in favor of funding WIFIA. Doing so will not help Utah’s water systems and will hinder development in the state’s rural areas.”

Idaho Rural Water Educating the Membership – the next edition of the IRWA magazine will include a NRWA Regulatory Report.  IRWA wants the membership to know what their association is doing for them.  Do you have any suggestions how we could better communicate with the membership about the benefits of the association?  Please tell us.

EPA Public Meeting and Webinar on Revisions to UCMR 4 – to discuss the approach to the fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) for public drinking water systems. EPA will present information concerning the status of the agency’s efforts in the areas of analyte selection, analytical methods, sampling design, determination of minimum reporting levels and other possible revisions relative to the current rule. The public meeting and webinar will be held on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.

Private Water – Milford Water Company (MA) settled a class action lawsuit that stemmed from a bacterial contamination in 2009 that forced 27,000 residents and businesses to boil water or purchase bottled water for 13 days.  The negotiated settlement will distribute $225,000 among 8,000 households. The former manager of the water company was convicted of charges that he deliberately tampered with water samples taken during the state’s boil-water order.  Prosecutors had contended he was under so much pressure to end the boil-water order that he added chlorine to the samples (more).  Some customers of Illinois American Water are under a boil order after a water main break and drop in water pressure (more).

National Environmental Groups Say They Need “More In-your-face Activism” (NYTimes).

Federal Government Workgroup Analyzing Chemical Safety in Water Supplies Recommends More Governments as Solution –  "Many water and wastewater treatment facilities may present attractive terrorist targets due to their large stores of potentially high-risk chemicals and their

proximities to population centers. In order to properly address the risks presented by the chemicals located at many of these facilities, the exemption from [federal regulations] for water and wastewater treatment facilities could be removed and security at these facilities could be regulated.  These activities will be completed in collaboration with the EPA" (more).

June 1, 2014

NRWA Advocates for Relief from the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) – the EPA workgroup reviewing revisions to the LCR met for two days this week.  The workgroup has been convening all year and the process is scheduled to continue for the rest of the year.  NRWA is represented on the panel by NRWA board member and Mass. Rural Water board member John Sasur.  This week the workgroup covered sample site selection issues.  John advanced the issue of alternatives to in-home monitoring.  The concept was thoroughly discussed and will be part of the negotiation package toward the end of the process.  Discussed alternatives to in-home sampling included using water quality parameters for compliance with corrosion control treatment, using a water aggressivity standard for determining the need for copper testing, and the flexibility for systems without lead service lines.

EPA Report on SRF Set-asides – states have more than $300,000,000 in set-aside unliquidated obligations (ULOs).  This chart illustrates each state’s amount of set-aside ULOs (chart).

WIFIA Moves to Appropriations – AWWA and other water associations sent joint letters to Congressional appropriations committees seeking full funding for the WIFIA for fiscal year 2015 in competition with the SRFs that are already slated for cuts.  NRWA has been working with state governmental associations and environmentalists to provide Congress with an objective analysis of WIFIA (analysis).

USDA Appropriations Update – FY2015 USDA appropriations bills continue to progress in the House and the Senate.  Currently the House level for loans and grants is $466,9893,000 and the Senate level is $463,230,000 and last year’s level was $462,371,000.  These levels are not expected change until the bills move to Conference Committee where they will be reconciled before being sent to the White House.

Clean Water Act Proposal Takes Lashing at House Hearing (more).

New Study of PVC Pipes – Utah university’s comprehensive study on PVC pipe excavations, testing and life cycle analysis that continue to validate the performance and longevity of PVC pipe used in water networks (more).

NY Water Utility Contractor Fined for Violated “Buy American” Rule – Jett Industries paid the United States $500,000 to settle allegations that it violated the False Claim Act for one component of a project funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (more).

Ensuring Water Utilities are Prepared for Hurricanes – Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 25 to 31.  EPA's Water Security Division has free tools and resource to help water utilities prepare like the "Day Without Water" video (more).

New USGS Study Finds Sewage Sludge Farm Fertilizer Pollutes – can leave traces of prescription drugs and household chemicals deep in the soil, can contaminate groundwater near farms with a variety of chemicals, including anti-depressants and hormone-disrupting compounds in antibacterial soaps (more).

Portsmouth (NH) Shuts Down Well Over Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (more).

Portland’s E Coli. Boil Order – city begins to release details from E. coli scare affecting 670,000 residents (more).

May 22, 2014

EPA Report on SRF Set-asides – states have more than $300,000,000 in set-aside unliquidated obligations (ULOs).  Reasons for ULOs include: states desire “rainy day” resources; unrealistic schedules; state internal miscommunication; state’s failure to spend set asides from the

oldest grant first; etc.  California leads with over $40 million, North Carolina with over $20 million, Washington with over $15 million, and New York with over $10 million (full list in EPA report, page 15).

Private Water News – Pennsylvania American Water instructed 18,000 customers in six Montgomery County towns Tuesday night to boil water for human consumption after water supplies ran low because of problems at its Norristown treatment plant.  Some parts of the utility's system ran dry (more).  The West Virginia Public Service Commission announced that it will investigate West Virginia American Water Co.’s handling of the contamination of the water supply for 300,000 residents in the Kanawha Valley and surrounding region (more).

Wisconsin Implements New TCR Rule – “Because the federal rule eliminates the current maximum contaminant limit (MCL) for Total Coliform, the Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater deemed it important to consider changing its policy on boil water\emergency chlorination ahead of the actual RTCR implementation date. This revised policy will be implemented on an interim basis and will be readdressed at the time of full implementation of RTCR” (more).

Rio 2016 Olympics: Sailors warned over sewage-infested waters, dog carcasses and even 'human corpses' in Guanabara Bay (more).

Dozens of Texas Communities with Less Than 90 Days of Water (more).

Jefferson County (AL) Fined for Chlorine Safety Plan –  could face a fine of up to $50,000 and other sanctions from EPA audit of the county's risk management program, which regulates chlorine and sulfur dioxide at the sewer plant (more).

DHS Reports U.S. Utility’s SCADA System Hacked by Cyberattackers (more).

Price of Water in Cities Around the World (map).  To produce one half-pound cheeseburger, it takes 968 gallons of water, based on data from Water Footprint Network, a nonprofit group in the Netherlands, and Fortune's analysis. The slice of cheese (24 gallons), wheat bun (19 gallons), and tomato and lettuce (under two) are a relatively small part of the total. The eight-ounce patty, by contrast, requires an estimated 924 gallons to produce when the amount of water needed to grow the feed for the cow is included.

Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Revisions – NRWA is participating on an EPA consultation panel considering revisions to the LCR.  Last week, during a webinar EPA made the following findings on the current rule:

USGS Identifies Factors Affecting Public-Supply-Well Vulnerability to Contamination:

  1. The sources of recharge that contribute water to a well, and the contaminants associated with the recharge—a measure of contaminant input;
  2. The chemical conditions encountered by water drawn into a well—a measure of contaminant mobility and persistence; and
  3. The groundwater-age mixture of different waters that blend (or mix) in a well—a measure of intrinsic susceptibility.

Human activities that alter groundwater recharge or modify groundwater flow can lead to changes in chemical conditions within an aquifer that can mobilize naturally occurring contaminants such as arsenic and uranium to public-supply wells (more).

May 16, 2014

Appropriations Starts This Week – both the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees are scheduled to mark-up their FY2015 bills this week.

“Unworkable” WIFIA Program to Become Law – responding to concerns raised by NRWA, state primacy agencies, state environmental secretaries, environmentalists, governors, etc., that WIFIA would redirect water funding subsidies from more needy communities to the less needy; the House-Senate Conference Committee adopts a WIFIA provision that is called “unworkable,” by one of the negotiators (more).  The provisions included in WIFIA that will limit its usefulness include a prohibition on mixing WIFIA funding with tax-exempt bonds and limiting WIFIA funding to 49 percent of a project.  The Debate Over WIFIA Continues – large community and for-profit water system groups (that backed WIFIA) have said they will try and remove these provisions in the Congress in the future.

Louisiana Rural Water Gets Senator’s Support for a New Energy Circuit Rider Concept – Pat Credeur made a presentation to Senator Landrieu’s office last week on expanding the circuit rider assistance model to energy and water conservation audits in small and rural communities (S. 1343 section 10).  Senator Landrieu has been a leading national policymaker on energy issues and recently assumed the Chairmanship of the Senate Energy Committee.  The Senator’s office was interested in the proposal and has asked LRWA to help further detail the concept.  If your Senator is interested in advancing a circuit rider-type energy conservation initiative, please contact us.  

More Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria (more).  

Mississippi Rural Water Recognized in ASDWA Newsletter (May 16) – Mississippi Hosts Successful Water Exercise, on May 8th, the Mississippi Department of Health, in concert with the state’s Department of Emergency Management and Department of Environmental Quality, US EPA, and the Mississippi Rural Water Association hosted a statewide Emergency Response/Recovery Exercise for the Water Sector.  Using a New Madrid-like earthquake scenario, approximately 70 participants from the state’s water and wastewater utilities, local emergency management representatives, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Homeland Security joined the Federal and States hosts to assess how they would partner, coordinate, communicate, and collaborate in the face of a catastrophic event such as the region-wide earthquake described in the

scenario.”

EPA and Vermont "Collaborate" on Massive TMDL Plan for Lake Champlain – on May 8, EPA commented to the state, saying a better explanation on how the state will secure funding to implement nonpoint source reduction plans is needed.  EPA says it is "highly unlikely" that a revised total maximum daily load for the lake will not include further phosphorus load reductions for wastewater treatment plants (more).

Apartment Building's Water (in North Dakota) Contaminated with Diesel Fuel and Antifreeze – contractor may have put diesel fuel and antifreeze in the lines to thaw frozen water pipes in early April (more).

Water ATMs to Come to Delhi – as women and children currently struggle to collect government-supplied water from mobile tankers (more).

Chinese City of Jingjiang Suspends Water to Hundreds of Thousands Without Explanation (more).  In April, benzene was found to be 20 times above national safety levels in the western city of Lanzhou.  In 2005, water supplies to the northeastern city of Harbin were cut off after an explosion at a chemical plant spilled benzene into the Songhua River, pushing levels to more than 100 times safe limits.

City of Savannah (GA) Employee Killed While Repairing Wastewater Pipe (more).

May 11, 2014

Appropriations Update – Congressional appropriations bills continue to advance in both the House and Senate Subcommittees.  The Appropriations Committees have adopted an ambitious agenda of trying to pass all the Appropriations bills before the November elections.  Rural Water's two priority appropriations bills (the USDA and EPA bills) will begin to be advanced in the House and Senate Subcommittees soon.  It is anticipated that the Agriculture Subcommittees will release their initial USDA spending bill the week of May 19th.  The EPA Subcommittees could release their initial bills in June.  State rural water associations have been very successful in securing House of Representatives' Members and Senators' support for all of our activities.  We expect the USDA and EPA bills to include all the rural water funding priorities.  However, the specific levels of funding for each priority will not be known until the subcommittees have agreed on specific levels (likely closer to the subcommittee release of the initial bills).

NRWA Supports NM Nominee to Lead the Bureau of Reclamation (more).

Policy Update on Rural Water Cybersecurity Activities (more).

House & Senate Reach Agreement on Water Resources Development Bill (more) – unconfirmed sources report that the agreement includes a WIFIA provision and reauthorization of the Clean Water Act State Revolving Fund.  Details of the agreement have not be released.

Environmentalists are Sexist (more).

EPA Webinar on Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds (DWSRF) Set-asides (May 15, EPA).  The webinar will include ideas about how states can creatively and effectively use the set-asides.

NPR Covers Wichita Falls (TX); First City to Have Half of the Drinking Water Come From Wastewater (NPR).

One Billion People Worldwide Practise "Open Defecation," U.N. Experts Says at Launch of New Study on Drinking Water and Sanitation (Reuters).

Maine Sewage Plant Chemical Spill Triggers Explosion – after bioxide and chlorine bleach inadvertently mixed and were exposed to oxygen (more).

California Water Systems Dumps 900,000 Gallons of Water After the Tank’s Locks Were Cut (more).

Wisconsin Residents’ National Prescription Drug “Take-Back” Day Brings in 25 Tons of Unwanted Drugs (more).

May 4, 2014

Rural Water Associations Continue To Be the First Responders for Drinking Water and Sewer Utilities Damaged in Natural Disasters – “All water systems are now up and running, some are still on boil water but we will be working towards clearing these in the next few days.  We would like to thank all RWEAC volunteers who assisted the damaged systems with the recovery effort,” MsRWA (more).

EPA Rule to Define “Water of the U.S.” – to define which water bodies are regulated by the federal government.  EPA is accepting comments until July 21, 2014.  NRWA if very interested in reviewing all members’ comments on the rule before commenting (contact us).  Last week, the Executive Director of SC RWA provided an excellent analysis of the rule in response to a Congressional request, commenting, the proposed Rule does assert CWA jurisdiction over tributaries and wetlands adjacent to and draining into traditional navigable waters, including on a case by case basis “other waters” (determined by an analysis of significant nexus).  An Economic Analysis report that accompanied the proposed rule stated that approximately 3% of US waters would additionally be subject to CWA jurisdiction..” (comments).

WRDA Bill Negotiations Coming to an End – “We will get WRDA completed in short order,” said a Maryland Congresswoman on the Conference Committee negotiating the bill.  NRWA has urged for two provisions to be included in the legislation (NRWA).  However we heard last week the Senator Conference Committee Chair is not supporting the provisions.

California State Agency Raises Alarm Over 1.1 PPB of Arsenic in Burbank’s Water – city dispute’s state agency and says, “its water is safe” (more).

Salt Lake (Utah) Turkey Truck Crashes into Water Reservoir Sparks Fears of Contamination (more).

Headline: Rural Water Association Helps Small Communities Have Safe Drinking Water – from Idaho newspaper covering local official attending rural water function (more).

EPA's Rule for Stationary Engines at Drinking Water and Wastewater Facilities Webinar – on May 14 (register).  The webinar will summarize the key elements of EPA's air quality regulations for stationary Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE) that affect drinking water and wastewater facilities.

EPA Pressuring States to Spend SRF Monies – EPA is requiring states to spend "legacy" grant funds appropriated in fiscal year 2013 and earlier by the end of September 2016.  Three states have eliminated their unliquidated obligations, while another 33 are close.  EPA recommends that states ensure that construction funding for projects is not awarded until projects are ready to begin construction; that states carefully craft Intended Use Plans that incorporate priorities for project funding and allow the state bypass projects not ready for financing due to unanticipated issues; manage set aside funds, and accelerating federal cash draws through prompt invoicing (EPA memo).  In California, the EPA Region threatened to withhold future SRF funds after finding the state had failed to spend more than a third of its allocated funds and made errors in calculating the state's DWSRF obligations and funding capacity.  Delays in spending SRF funding is resulting in Congressional analysis on the need for SRF funding.

April 27, 2014

Earthday 2014 – movie release; A Fierce Green Fire, from PBS, the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement in honor of Earth Day.  The documentary chronicles one of the largest movements of the 20th century, including movements and national laws resulting from drinking water contamination.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack celebrated Earth Day by announcing record support for 116 projects that will improve water and wastewater services for rural Americans and benefit the environment (more).

Chlorine Gas Becomes the New Weapon of Choice in Syria Killing Children (more).

Is UCMR3 Resulting in Misleading Public Information Notices (NRWA Regulatory Deliberations).

Public Comment Period Opens for Proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule – an EPA proposed rule to clarify regulation under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands (EPA announcement).  NRWA is currently collaborating with all the national water associations on joint comments.

Is the New EPA Waters of U.S. Rule Consistent with the U.S. Constitution – a new Congressional Research Service (CRS) report says the proposal includes a "newly and broadly defined" definition of tributary for purposes of establishing default jurisdiction.  CRS says that EPA believes the proposal would not "enlarge jurisdiction beyond what is consistent with the Supreme Court's narrow reading of jurisdiction," but warns that "others may disagree."  EPA Administrator McCarthy said the rule, “does not expand the Clean Water Act [and] it does not protect any new types of waters that have not historically been covered."

New Book – Toms River: how a small town fought back against corporate giants for toxic dumping linked to cancer contaminating their drinking water (Democracy Now).

Maine Water District Shuts Down Service – after neighboring community's sewage overflows resulting in risk of "sewage being sucked back into the drinking water system” (more).

Texas City Plans to Reroute Treated Sewage into Taps (more).

EPA Webinar on American Made Iron & Steel Requirement for the SRFs (EPA).

America's Rural/Urban Divide – governments response to the widening rift between rural and urban America (Governing).

New Water Study  how agricultural practices, extreme weather and aging infrastructure affect our water systems (Governing). 

New EPA Rules Limiting Emergency Generators from Participating in Peak Shaving Programs on May 3, 2014 (EPA summary).  NRWA has been pressing for relief from the new rule.  If your Member of Congress or Senator is interested in supporting relief, please contact us.

April 20, 2014

Plan to Pass H.R. 654 in the House and Change the EPA Technical Assistance Funding Process – VA rural water is urging House Majority Leader Cantor (VA) to allow for a vote on H.R. 654 on the "suspension calendar,” which allows for expedited House consideration (NRWA statement).  The bill’s sponsors (Representatives Harper MS and Matheson UT) are supportive.  The Senate sponsors (Wicker MS and Heitkamp ND) are working for similar consideration in the Senate.  GA rural water met with Congressman Westmoreland last week who is supportive of the effort and close with the House leadership.  The bill will "mandate" that EPA follows Congressional intent.

Rural Water and EPA Region 1 Meeting – last week: VT, Granite State, ME, Mass. and Atlantic States rural water associations conducted a very productive meeting with EPA Region 1 officials at the Boston headquarters.  A total of 18 attendees for a planned two hour meeting that lasted for three hours.  The Region 1 Administrator participated in the meeting.

EPA Webinar on the New “How’s My Waterway” Website  that enables users to easily access water quality information for their local lakes, rivers, and streams (EPA).

EPA Webinar Entitled “Re-visioning 21st Century Water Infrastructure: Solving for the Pattern of Sustainability – on April 23, to convey the benefits a holistic approach to providing municipal water services, with a case example dealing with coastal eutrophication challenges (EPA).

Minneapolis Man Accused of Introducing Pollutants Into City Sewer System Faces up to Three Years in Federal Prison and a Fine Up to $50,000 Per Day of Violation on 23 of the 24 Counts (more).

New Mexico Democratic Senator Tom Udall Last Week Introduced Four Bills to Promote More Efficient Use of Water Supplies (more).

Portland Flushes 38 Million Gallons of Treated Drinking Water After Man Urinates in Reservoir (more).

South Carolina Rural Water Presses WIFIA Message with Congressman on Negotiating Committee (more).

EPA Releases “Moving Toward Sustainability: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Own Water Utility Roadmap  to assist water utilities to move toward sustainability by implementing proven practices over time at a pace consistent with their needs and the needs of the communities they serve (EPA).

Wisc. Phosphorus Plan Causing Burden the village of Vesper is halfway through paying off a $1.8 million loan the village took out to upgrade its wastewater system to reduce ammonia levels.  Now, the village is facing a need to increase sewage bills to three or four times their current rate to lower phosphorus (more).

EPA Sends OMB Clarifications and Notice for More Public Comments on the Proposed Rule for NPDES Electronic Reporting EPA released the proposed rule on NPDES electronic reporting in July 2013.  EPA might modify the rule to address issues raised by stakeholders.  The rule would apply to all holders of NPDES permits, requiring electronic submission of discharge monitoring reports, notices of intent to discharge and program reports from such sources as the operators of municipal wastewater systems (EPA).

April 13, 2014

Rural Water Testifies Before House of Representatives EPA Funding Committee – (April 10, 2014) Minnesota Rural Water Association Executive Director Ruth Ann Hubbard testified before the House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on behalf of the over 30,000 small and rural community members of NRWA.  Hubbard thanked Congress and the Subcommittee for their past support and explained the importance of providing small and rural water and sewer systems with training and technical assistance necessary to comply with the ever-expanding federal requirements.  "Of the billions of dollars provided to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by this subcommittee each year, small and rural communities will tell you they see and feel the most benefit from the dollars provided to on-site technical assistance initiatives.  Small and rural communities that must comply with all EPA regulations - and have the very important primary responsibility for supplying the public with safe drinking water and sanitation every second of every day.  The smallest town in Minnesota has to comply with all the same regulations as the Twin Cities or Los Angeles, both of which have an entire engineering department.  My main point here is that communities don't need to be told they have to comply; they need to be shown how to comply in the most cost effective manner," said Hubbard during her testimony.  Additional important policy recommendations that NRWA urged the Congress to consider included:

The complete testimony is available on the internet (link), along with photos.

WIFIA Update – last week, South Carolina Rural Water members met with Congressman Rice; a Conference Committee member at a local event.  SCRWA members briefed the Congressman on their concerns with WIFIA and its adverse impacts on small and rural water systems/municipalities.  Congressman Rice asked for a briefing paper which SCRWA is preparing.  Also, while MN RWA Ruth Hubbard was in DC this week, she pressed the issue with two of her House Members (one on the Conference Committee).  We learned that members of the conference committee have not heard that any final agreement on WIFIA has been reached and our timing was good.  The state drinking water administrators suggested rural water focus on Congressman Gibbs (OH) who is expressing “a lot of the energy and enthusiasm for WIFIA in his role a Subcommittee Chairman on the Conference Committee.  Ohio state organizations and the state’s drinking water agency have talked with him.  His support is has inexplicable since his district would not benefit from WIFIA.”  Also reported from around the country: some AWWA local members are coming to believe that WIFIA is not policy after learning the full effect.

EPA Office of Water Publishes New Sustainability Document for Water Systems (EPA).

Senator Wicker (MS) to Hotline His Rural Water Technical Assistance Bill, S. 864 – on the Republican side of the Senate.  This would allow the bill be to passed under expedited consideration or unanimous consent.  Senate Democratic Sponsor, Senator Heitkamp is also pressing the Senate Democratic Members for similar expedited consideration.  If enacted, the legislation would limit EPA’s discretion in allocating technical assistance funding; ending the process EPA has been using for the last two years.  Under the bill, EPA would be required to prioritize funding to where it is most beneficial to small and rural communities.

Large Chinese City Contaminated with Benzene - Issues Don’t Drink Order, Panic Ensues (more).

Newspaper Features Picture of Brown, Frothy Runoff Discharged into Owasco Lake from Cow Manure (more).

 

EPA Releasing a Synthesis Report on the Importance of Water to Economy (more).

April 6, 2014

The Power of An Association; Growth – Wisconsin Rural Water sets record attendance at annual conference.  Despite the harsh weather, close to 1,500 people were able to attend the Annual Technical Conference last week in Green Bay.”  Kansas Rural Water Annual Conference reports: USDA RUS Administrator John Padalino keynotes opening session for over 1,600 attendees.  Banquet serves over 1,200 people in 27 minutes.”

Ruth Hubbard (Minn. RWA) to Represent You Next Week in House EPA Appropriations Committee – MRWA’s Executive Director plans to tell the committee, “To ensure that EPA follows Congressional intent, we urge the Subcommittee to include the operative provisions of H.R. 654, the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act, and fully fund the authorized amount in your FY2015 bill.  My main point here is that communities don't need to be told they have to comply with threats of fines up to $25,000 a day; they need to be shown how to comply in the most cost effective manner. This is exactly what on-site technical assistance accomplishes.  Someone knowledgeable needs to be on the side of the community...  Please continue to increase funding for the state revolving funds. These are critical to help meet the demand for water project funding in all communities, often created by compliance costs. We know you have a nearly impossible job every year in continuing funding within your allocation and we are grateful for the funding you have historically provided to the SRF.”

The Power of An Association – Mass. Rural Water’s Entire Congressional Delegation Signs Their Letter of Support, Again (Mass letters).

EPA Hosts Preparedness Tools & Resources Webinar – EPA’s Water Security Division invites you to attend a “Free Preparedness Tools & Resources for Drinking Water and Wastewater” webinar on May 6. The goal of the webinar is to increase drinking water and wastewater awareness of EPA’s

no-cost resources and tools that can assist utilities in becoming more resilient to “all hazards.” Two speakers from DC Water and Fairfax Water will share their experiences and recommendations on using USEPA tools to increase preparedness (more).

WV Governor Signed New Source Water Protection Law As Result of the Jan. 9 Chemical Leak Into the Elk River in Charleston and the Resulting Water Emergency in Nine West Virginia Counties (more).

Michigan Water Treatment Plant Repairs Cost $23M – after truck driver, in 2011, making his first delivery to treatment plant mistakenly pumped his load of liquid bleach into a tank reserved for fluoride.  The chemical reaction created a corrosive cloud that attacked everything inside the highly automated plant (news).

Battles Over Water Will Erupt Within Five to 10 Years As a Result of Climate Change Says World Bank President (more).

Wrong Chemical Put in Tank – at the Roanoke River Service Authority Water Treatment Works (VA), sends 11 people including seven firefighters, one rescue crew member, two employees at the plant and a delivery driver to hospital (TV News).

Wisconsin Spring Thaw Threatens Waters with Manure Runoff – following the highest number of manure spills in seven years in 2013, this year's threat is due to melting snow and rainfall that could send soil and animal waste into streams. Under the right conditions, manure also could soak into aquifers, from which drinking water is drawn (more).

Kiwi Rural Water’s E. Coli Problem that Chlorine Can’t Stop – Waimate District on a "permanent boil water notice".  "It's a supply that we chlorinate, but due to recent weather events, the chlorination process was not as effective as usual. Consequently, we got a spike in E.coli ratings that were over the minimum health standards… You're never going to eliminate all the problems in rural water schemes, it's a fact of life" (more).

March 30, 2014

EPA Releases New Rule to Regulate Waters of the U.S./Wetlands (NRWA Policy Alert).

EPA Releases Guidance on the "Buy American" provisions for the State Revolving Funds (NRWA Policy Alert).

LCR Rewrite Update – Mass. Rural Water’s John Sasur spent last week in DC listening to lectures and negotiating the corrosion control treatment part of the lead and copper rule.  EPA is promoting a more “holistic” evaluation of corrosion control when a system exceeds LCR action levels.  Presentations included assessments that there is no way to determine the effectiveness of treatment without in-home testing, and that lead from the distribution system can accumulate in homeowners' premise plumbing and released long after accumulating from changes in water chemistry or mechanical disturbances.  We will be posting the presentations this week.

WIFIA Update – The House Senate Conference Committee deciding on WIFIA in the final WRDA bill appears to be finalizing an agreement.  However, no details have been released on the agreement or the decision on WIFIA.

EPA's Technical Assistance Program – a summary of each awardee, their level of funding, and where and how they will be targeting their training and assistance programs (more).

Most All LA Drinking Water Systems Comply with Emergency Disinfection Requirements to Prevent Naegleria fowleri Amoeba – 73 systems out of the state’s 1,369 public drinking water systems were not in compliance with an emergency rule requiring higher disinfectant levels in drinking water and more monitoring of water quality (more).

Kansas Rural Water Conference Anchors USDA National Initiative – USDA Rural Utilities Service Administrator John Padalino recently made a three-day tour throughout Kansas to visit with local rural water district officials and community leaders about creating opportunities for expanding rural economic activity. Padalino’s Kansas tour concluded with his keynote address at the Kansas Rural Water Conference (more).

Pasadena Park (WA) Residents Under Boil Notice After E. Coli Detected – source not mentioned in news article.  "Residents should run their taps for 15 minutes to help the chlorinated water move through the system. Because of the bleaching effects of heavy chlorination, residents should also use caution when running a clothes washer" (more).

EPA Water and Energy Nexus in Disasters Webinar Series: Coordination between Electric and Water Utilities  during disasters on April 2, 2014.  The webinar will feature two speakers from electric utilities and one speaker from a water utility who will share their experiences and recommendations for increasing coordination and communication between the two types of utilities (register).

Missouri Senator Tells Rural Water Member That He Supports Exempting Brass Inventories from New No Lead Standards (more).

EPA Releases the Draft FY 2015 Addendum to the FY 2014 National Water Program Guidance for Public Comment  describes how EPA, states, territories, and tribal governments will work together to protect and improve the quality of the Nation's waters, including wetlands, and ensure safe drinking water (more).

March 23, 2014

Facts to Know About WIFIA (fact sheet).  NRWA supports Inhofe WIFIA provision to help small communities (NRWA statement).

EPA Lead and Copper Panel First Meeting This Week – focusing on two major goals: 1) to establish a strong foundation for the working group and 2) to begin discussing optimal corrosion control treatment provisions in the LCR.  Specific topics include: reviewing the current LCR and background for the long-term revisions; reviewing the working group’s mission, operating procedures and proposed timeline; and discussing any suggestions you have for topics in addition to those described in the white paper (agenda and support materials).

Diesel Fuel Spill to Michigan River Caused by Criminal Act (more).

Water Main Collapsing Onto Gas Line Causes Explosion in East Harlem (more).

Trenton (UTAH) Lifts Boil Order from E. coli Detection Traced to Spring (more).

Chelsea Clinton Is “Obsessed With Diarrhea” - because more than 750,000 children still die every year around the world because of severe dehydration due to diarrhea unacceptable.  This no longer happens here in the United States is because we have clean water, said Clinton (more).

Harrisburg (PA) Water Main Break Causes Sinkhole Prompting Evacuation of 45 Homes (more).

March 14, 2014

Analysis of the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Impacts – currently, a House-Senate Conference Committee is negotiating a final version of the Water Resources Development Act (S. 601,WRDA) which could include a Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) provision.  The support for WIFIA is largely based on two misconceptions: (1) that large communities are unfairly underserved by the state revolving funds (SRFs), and (2) that allowing EPA appropriations to be used for a new water infrastructure program that eliminates the current requirements to target state priorities and the neediest projects is preferable to the current SRF.  NRWA is releasing the following documents in response to recent Congressional inquiries:

Chair of Senate Appropriations Committee Proud to Show Off Meeting with MD Rural Water (more).

Iowa Rural Water Hall of Fame Announces New Inductee (newspaper).

Kristoff on Factory Farming – "Johns Hopkins professors notes that a farm with 10,000 hogs produces as much fecal waste as a small city with 40,000 people, but the hog operation won’t have a waste treatment plant. Indeed, the hogs in a single county in North Carolina produce half as much waste as all the people in New York City” (NYTimes).

How Pig Poop Is Getting into Iowa's Drinking Water (Public Radio).

NC RWA Leads on Relief for Brass Inventories from New Lead Standards – “NC RWA continues to push for Congressional support to alleviate the burden caused by loss of your existing inventories of non-compliant leaded-brass appurtenances.   NC Rural Water is working with our Congressional Delegation to support The Drinking Water Supply Assistance Act of 2013 (S.1824), which would allow most of our existing inventories to be used in our systems. Our most concerted effort is to gain Democratic Co-sponsorship from US Senator Kay Hagan. Senator Hagan's Office has requested that we provide the following information from 50 of our systems across the state for their use in working on this legislation.”

EPA Fines Dairy Farmer for Discharge to Creek – for $75,000 civil penalty under the Clean Water Act.  During inspections, EPA found discharges of manure into creek (more).

March 9, 2014

WIFIA Update – concerns express by NRWA and states are having an effect on WIFIA in the House-Senate Conference Committee.  Last week, a member of the conference committee mentioned that the panel is now considering a proposal to allow large systems to use WIFIA and small communities to use the SRFs; no details on this idea have been released.  A number of communities in House Conference Chairman Shuster’s Pennsylvania district are assembling letter/statement to the Chairman this week.  The more concerns raised to members of the conference committee, the more likely the (policies in the) SRFs will be retained.  Senators Boxer (CA), Baucus (MT), Carper (DE), Cardin (MD), Whitehouse (RI), Vitter (LA), Barrasso (WY), Inhofe (OK), Representatives Shuster (PA), Duncan (TN), LoBiondo (NJ), Graves (MO), Moore Capito (WV), Miller (MI), Hunter (CA), Bucshon (IN), Gibbs (OH), Hanna (NY), Webster (FL), Rice (SC), Mullin (OK), Davis (IL), Rahall (WV), DeFazio (OR), Brown (FL), Johnson (TX), Bishop (NY), Edwards (MD), Garamendi (CA), Hahn (CA), Nolan (MN), Frankel (FL), Bustos (IL), Hastings (WA), Bishop (UT), and Napolitano (CA). 

Brass Inventories Update – NJ RWA grassroots campaign to encourage support for S. 1824; legislation to exempt water systems’ brass inventories from the “No Lead” standards resulted in this letter from the Regional EPA (EPA letter).

LCR Rule Rewrite Update – NRWA’s representative on the EPA panel considering revisions to the LCR was in DC last week to meet with water supply organizations.  NRWA raised the issue of eliminating in-home monitoring from the rule.  Data request: if you examples of a specific house having varying monitoring levels of lead or copper, please forward them to us.    

House Tax Reform Proposal Limits Municipal Tax Exempt Bonds – introduced last week by House tax committee Chairman Dave Camp (MI), the plan would tax some municipal-bond income for the highest earners. It would also eliminate the exemption for debt sold by localities to finance private projects.

Wisconsin Legislatures Take Charge on State Nutrient Plan – passing revisions to the state agency’s current phosphorus reduction rules.  The Governor is expected to sign the bill into law within a week (legislation).  The revisions modify the current program that relied on point-sources spending billions with very little benefit, with new provisions for reduced non-point discharges.

New National Cybersecurity Framework – nicely summarized in two new PPTs (DHS cyber plan).

EPA Proposes $581 Million Reduction to SRFs in President’s Budget (more).

Explosive Pittsburgh Water Main Break Shakes Houses Leaves Hundreds Without Service (more).

Pullman’s (WA) Charlie Brown Water Tower Springs a Leak (more).

Black Hawk County Gaming Association to Pay for Homeowners with Frozen Pipes (more).

Cache Valley Daily (UT) Boil Order Could Last Months – officials to think E. coli, cryptosporidium, giardia, and other bacteria could be contaminating the water (more).

Scam, Fake Water Bill Via Email – in Wisconsin, consumers receive fake bills for utility services from “Energy Billing Service” and click on a link to view their most recent bill, an action that could unleash a virus or lead to a scam website to obtain personal banking information (more).

March 2, 2014

S. 864 & H.R. 654, The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act – provides additional statutory directive to EPA, in awarding technical assistance grants, to clarify Congressional intent for the Agency to prioritize the most beneficial assistance for small and rural communities.  The legislation passed the Senate environment committee on February 6, 2014.  NRWA currently pressing for a vote on the bill in both the House and Senate (NRWA statement).

WIFIA Moving – the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) was passed by the Senate as part the Water Resources Development Act.  The House passed version did not include a WIFIA provision.  Currently the House-Senate Conference Committee is working on reconciling differences between the House and Senate versions and the progress is picking up speed again after the conference leaders reached a compromise last week. The conference could finish work before the April 14, start of the Easter recess, or it might need a few additional weeks after the recess.  NRWA recently published comments on WIFIA in response to numerous Congressional inquiries (NRWA).  A number of state associations have been educating their Congressional delegations on the way WIFIA circumvents the current federal requirements for EPA water funding to be targeted to the most needy projects and state priorities.  One House Member of the Conference Committee and WIFIA supported commented that he feels WIFIA allows larger cities an opportunity for funding.  NRWA responded to this point in our memorandum, Large water utilities and for-profit water companies that are proponents of WIFIA argue that the current SRF does not work for their constituencies because it is targeted to communities most in-need and selected by state government. They claim this notwithstanding the fact that most of the existing SRF funding goes to large cities.  Even with the requirements to prioritize the neediest communities, large communities are better able to manage the application process and receive the majority of current SRF funding.”   If enacted WIFIA will allow more federal water subsidies to be available for larger communities at the expense of more worthy projects and state priorities.  The following Members of Congress have been appointed to the Conference Committee: Senators Boxer (CA), Baucus (MT), Carper (DE), Cardin (MD), Whitehouse (RI), Vitter (LA), Barrasso (WY), Inhofe (OK), Representatives Shuster (PA), Duncan (TN), LoBiondo (NJ), Graves (MO), Moore Capito (WV), Miller (MI), Hunter (CA), Bucshon (IN), Gibbs (OH), Hanna (NY), Webster (FL), Rice (SC), Mullin (OK), Davis (IL), Rahall (WV), DeFazio (OR), Brown (FL), Johnson (TX), Bishop (NY), Edwards (MD), Garamendi (CA), Hahn (CA), Nolan (MN), Frankel (FL), Bustos (IL), Hastings (WA), Bishop (UT), and Napolitano (CA). 

Lead and Copper Rule Revision Begins This Week – NRWA’s representative (John Sasur, MA RWA) on the EPA panel making recommendations for revisions to the current LCR rule will be in DC this week to meet with all the national water utility organizations.  The first meeting of the National Drinking Water Advisory Committee’s Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Work Group is scheduled for March 25-26, 2014 (agenda and materials).  Last week, an NRWA ad hoc group of advisers discussed key small system issues for the rule including findings that continual in-home monitoring is overly burdensome, long-term monitoring waivers and alternatives to in-home monitoring are needed, there is a small number of communities violating the rule - yet everyone is continually testing, extending control of the distribution system past the status quo is problematic, monitoring errors are resulting in systems implementing corrosion control, and water systems should not be required to provide pitcher filter type treatment.

Milwaukee’s Sewage to Energy Agenda – heat from sewage has annual average temperature of 62 degrees, call it sewer thermal energy.  Plus, burning methane released from sewage already provides electricity, turbines burning landfill gas, excess heat used for sludge dryers, heat off sewage to warm buildings, etc. ( at the Jones Island and South Shore sewage treatment plants, said Karen Sands, MMSD's manager of sustainability (more).

Iowa Water Utilities Have Hundreds Frozen Lines, Mayor Asks Casinos to Help with Funding (more).

Texas City Working To Turn Sewer Water Into Tap Water (more).

Towns of Bud and Alpoca (WV) Water Problems Caused by Death of Operator – the town has been under a boil advisory since last September when Alpoca Water Works ceased working (more).

February 23, 2014

NRWA Comments on WIFIA In Response to Numerous Congressional Inquiries (NRWA).

EPA Committee to Rewrite Lead and Copper Rule to Convene in March – under the National Drinking Water Advisory Committee’s Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Work Group.  The first meeting has been scheduled for March 25-26, 2014.  The panel has two major goals for this first meeting: 1) to establish a strong foundation for the working group and 2) to begin discussing optimal corrosion control treatment provisions in the LCR.  Specific topics include: reviewing the current LCR and background for the long-term revisions; discussing the working group’s mission, operating procedures and proposed timeline; and discussing any suggestions you have for topics in addition to those described in the white paper (agenda and materials).

 

Book Review UC Berkeley Professor David Sedlak explains in his fact-packed new book, "Water 4.0," such conveniences are really a marvel of engineering, built on centuries of trial and (often) error.  Sedlak explains in detail the technologies to disinfect drinking water.  Sedlak envisions a next wave of thinking to reshape urban water systems for the future (more).

PCE Proliferates in Colorado – the cancer-causing chemical PCE contamination Colorado soil, water and homes.  Spills releasing PCE have produced at least 86 underground plumes across the state (more).

Cold Weather Freezes Chicago City Pipes hundreds throughout the Chicago area that have spent days – in some cases weeks – without running water because of frozen pipes on city-owned property (more).

Cold Weather Stressing Wisconsin Water Utilities – with frost depths reaching 7’ in many parts of the state, utilities are experiencing numerous frozen service laterals, water mains and water towers. Thousands of customers have already experienced water outages due to frozen water lines, and many communities are unable to keep up with the number of new ones that freeze up every day.  Most communities have customers running water to keep water lines from freezing, and many have spent tens of thousands of dollars on contractors & equipment in an effort to return water service to their customers as soon as possible (WRWA).

U.S. Senator Hoeven Addresses ND Rural Water Conference (more).

San Luis Obispo (CA) Water Tank Spills When Phone Line Interferes with Communications (more).

Feds Widens Inquiry of Duke Energy's Coal Ash Spill in North Carolina and State Regulators (more).

 

Cities Struggle with State Cell Tower Laws – some Wisconsin cities are making easy money by leasing space for cell phone antennas on land and water towers, but some residents are upset that communities have little control over where the antennas are set up.  The antenna sites provide a steady stream of money, with carriers willing to pay the fees rather than build their own towers. But some communities aren't happy, particularly because of a state law that restricts their ability to manage cell towers and deny a tower based on aesthetics (in Wisconsin).  In Missouri, legislation that was fast-tracked through the Missouri Senate last week and could be out of the House by the end of the month is being challenged by a number of Missouri communities, whose leaders argue that it guts local control over telecommunications and other companies.  Supporters of the bill say it streamlines the regulatory process for communications companies hoping to expand their wireless services.  Cities fear the legislation would allow companies to build, replace or upgrade cell towers and antennae, for example, with no zoning approval or public hearings (more).

 

Wisconsin Senate Takes on Environmental Agency – on Tuesday, the Senate approved legislation to delay costly phosphorus reduction regulations.  The state approved regulations in 2010 (more).

February 26, 2014

Rural Water Rally Last Week

New Farm Bill Includes $150 Million Pending Applications for Water Projects 

Under Section 6210: (a) IN GENERAL.The Secretary shall use funds made available under subsection (b) to provide funds for applications that are pending on the date of enactment of this Act in accordance with the terms and conditions of section 6029 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law 110–246; 122 Stat. 1955).  (b) FUNDING.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, beginning in fiscal year 2014, of the funds of the Commodity Credit Corporation, the Secretary shall use to carry out this section $150,000,000, to remain available until expended.

White House Releases Cybersecurity Plan – on Wednesday, the Obama Administration released its final version of its "cybersecurity framework," a best practices guide for water utilities and other industries to help protect themselves against attacks by hackers.  The framework, which sets voluntary guidelines for critical industries, comes after President Obama signed an executive order last year that called on the Commerce Department to develop the guidelines.  The framework is built around five broad categories; identify; protect; detect; respond; and recovery.  The Homeland Security Department announced a campaign to promote the framework, called the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community, or C-Cubed (framework text).  NRWA is currently developing a cybersecurity plan that will workable in small and rural communities.

New York Times Covers Cold Weather Impacts on Water Pipes – The exceptionally cold and stormy winter battering the Midwest, South and Northeast has forced cities and states to put road crews on double shifts and step up purchases of asphalt, trying to keep up with an epidemic of potholes. They have also bought and spread so much salt that there is a shortage in the Mid-Atlantic States, with more storms expected (NYTimes).

Wisc. Legislature Takes Action to Modify State’s Nutrient Plan – the proposed legislation (AB 680 & SB 547) would ease the economic hardship to communities and businesses caused by the high compliance costs associated with the current laws passed in 2010, and would provide cost sharing dollars to address the larger contributors of phosphorus to Wisconsin’s waterways (more).

West Virginia Slurry Spills into Creek  a pipeline at Patriot Coal’s Kanawha Eagle Prep Plant near Winifrede ruptured and released 108,000 gallons of coal slurry into Fields Creek, a tributary of the

Kanawha River. West Virginia American Water officials do not anticipate the slurry spill will affect public drinking water but believe environmental impacts could be severe (more).

February 9, 2014

Rural Water Rally – this week in Washington DC.  Begins NRWA's annual campaign to persuade Congress to continue critical small and rural community water initiatives (technical assistance, USDA grants & loans, and EPA SRFs).  NRWA's Legislative Committee determined funding request levels in January (levels).

Senator Wicker (MS) and Heitkamp's (ND) Rural Water Assistance Bill Passes Senate Committee – see statement from Senator Wicker.  The bill would “authorize” in law the EPA technical assistance program obviating the need for appropriations language each year.  It would also make implementing the program easier for EPA by providing greater clarity on the intent of the Congress; to use the funds for the technical assistance that small communities find most beneficial and helpful.  If enacted, this directive would become legally binding on the agency.

West Virginia Rural Water Association Testifies in Senate to Educate and Promote Rural Water Source Water Protection – at a hearing to examine the Charleston (WV) contamination crisis.  Mike McNulty's (WVRWA & NRWA) testimony starts at 1:25 mins of the Senate video.

Water Theft Is a Big Concern in Rural California (more) – "we're doing public announcements and have a line to call for reports to the sheriff's department."

Cold Weather Impacts in Wisconsin (from WRWA.org) – this winter’s record low temperatures are pushing frost depths below the 5’ mark across the state which is wreaking havoc with underground facilities. Numerous communities have issued system-wide water running recommendations to their customers (more).  Many communities are dealing with frozen pipes, meters, towers and sewer mains (more).  WRWA has issued a Winter Operations Alert with tips and hints for communities on their website.

NRWA Regulatory Committee's Ambitious Agenda – the committee met yesterday to discuss the implement the agenda.

The Power of Association – new handout to document accomplishments.

ASDWA Features New Source Water Protection Assistance Program in Kentucky Modeled After Washington State (ASDWA).

Federal Grand Jury Investigates West Virginia Chemical Spill (CNN).

February 2, 2014

It is Time for a Change in EPA Technical Assistance Funding and Mississippi & North Dakota Rural Water Have an Answer – S. 864, The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act, sponsored by Senators Wicker (MS) and Heitkamp (ND).  Last week, the Senators were told the bill would be marked-up in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on February 6th, and receive the support of Chair.  The bill would “authorize” in law the EPA technical assistance program obviating the need for appropriations language each year.  It would also make implementing the program easier for EPA by providing greater clarity on the intent of the Congress; to use the funds for the technical assistance that small communities find most beneficial and helpful.  If enacted, this directive would become legally binding on the agency.  Senate Wicker was promised an early 2014 mark-up on the bill for allowing the fire hydrants legislation (H.R. 3588), to move ahead of S. 864 in the closing hours of the 2013 Senate session. 

Rural Water Before the U.S. Senate on Tuesday – testifying on source water protection following the West Virginia drinking water contamination crises.  Mike McNulty, general manager of Putnam PSD water, WVRWA, and NRWA will testify on behalf of you (testimony).  Only by organizing and acting together can we achieve what we could never achieve alone; the Power of An Association.  Thank you Wva. Mike McNulty for representing and crafting excellent testimony featuring Putnam PSD’s exemplary source water protection plan.

Cali. Water Crises – The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply.  With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history” (NYTimes).

Scum and E. Coli in NYC Drinking Water Storage Tanks “One day he found a pigeon bone in the strainer of a resident’s kitchen faucet. Finally, the building’s co-op board agreed to have the tank professionally cleaned. A water sample taken by The Times just before a more recent cleaning tested positive for coliform and E. coli.  Tank cleaning companies have an inventory of stories about finding dead birds, mice and animal droppings. One cleaner discovered a homeless person living in the attic space between a tank cover and the roof” (NYTimes).  One of the issues NRWA successfully negotiated in the new total coliform rule was a proposal for a new regulatory program to inspect your storage tanks by EPA.  The agreement resulted in the issue being considered under the category of study and further research by the EPA.  This article may result in more support/momentum for a new EPA regulatory program.  During the negotiations, there were a few similar examples of contamination of municipal storage tanks raised.

ASDWA Highlights Farm Bill's Positive Projects for Drinking Water – requires that farmers must engage in basic conservation practices to be able to receive Federal subsidies for crop insurance on highly erodible land and wetlands (ASDWA).

Wisc. Continues to Lead on Innovate Solutions to Improve Federal Nutrient Plans – (from www.wrwa.org) three Wisconsin lawmakers are introducing a bill aimed at reducing the cost of reducing phosphorus in the water.  Supporters say it will also lower costs to water utility ratepayers and they believe it could save thousands of jobs.  The Act would allow utilities and manufacturers to  provide significant monetary support for reductions in agricultural phosphorus discharges, which constitutes a majority of phosphorus in our waters" (more).

January 26, 2014

NRWA Legislative Committee Approves FY2015 Funding Levels (more).

NRWA's John Sasur (Mass. Rural Water) Selected by EPA to Help Rewrite the Lead and Copper Rule (more).

NPR Follows a Very Enthusiastic Small Town Mayor from Ville Platte (LA) at the U.S. Conference of Mayors conference – NPR says, "mayors from the country's smallest towns and cities are also trying to make an impression" (NPR).

Wisc. Rural Water Supports State Legislation to Improve State Nutrient Plan – WRWA stated, "the Clean Waters Healthy Economy Act will provide a cost effective compliance option for many municipalities struggling to meet the current Phosphorus reduction regulations.  WRWA worked with a number of other stakeholders over the last several months to get this legislation written and introduced, and our Board of Directors has unanimously voted to support it."  WRWA's action should serve as a model for other states facing overly burdensome EPA nutrient water quality plans.  A copy of the proposed legislation along with bill summaries, and legislative talking points can be found on the WRWA website at www.wrwa.org.

 

Farm Bill to the Finish Line - Members of the farm bill conference committee are ready to report a Farm Bill according a negotiators.  There are still some outstanding issues, but a recent memo from the conference leadership is a strong indication that a final bill will soon be reported.

Water Quality Association's Qs & As on the Quality and Safety of Plastic Pipe and Piping Components (more).

Columbus (OH) Spending Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars to Treat Drinking Water for Mysterious Foul Smell and Flavor - "the city says it's safe, but others say it's just nasty" (news).

NRWA Members Interesting Comments on WV Drinking Water Contamination Event:

NPR Goes In-depth on WVa Contamination - for an hour with local journalists, etc (NPR).

Charleston Flushing Results in Boil Water Order - for some areas.  Extensive flushing caused a water storage tank to drain and West Virginia American Water Company to issue a cautionary boil water advisory for several parts of their service area (more).

Young Wally's Wastewater System Design Featuring Lego Construction (Youtube).

Four Dead in South Africa from Residents Demanding Access to Water (APNews).

Mexico City Mandates Residents to “Drink the water” - a new city law requires all restaurants to install filters so they can offer patrons free, drinkable water.  “We need to create a culture of water consumption,” said health secretary for Mexico City. “We need to accept our water” (more).

January 19, 2014

Congress Passes, President Signs Final Appropriations Bill – includes enough funding to retain circuit riders, wastewater techs., source water techs., and EPA programs (news).  Rural water campaign for fiscal year 2015 funding begins.  The bill includes a new “Buy American” mandate for SRF funds for the use of domestic iron and steel on all projects funded including “lined or unlined pipes and fittings, manhole covers and other municipal castings, hydrants, tanks, flanges, pipe clamps and restraints, valves, structural steel, reinforced precast concrete, and construction materials.”  Certain waivers are available under the law.

NPR on History of U.S. Safe Drinking Water (NPR) – interview with Duke Professor Lynn Neary.  “It is the 100th anniversary of the first public health service standards for drinking water… in 1908, the very first city in the U.S., Jersey City, decides to chlorinate its drinking water.  And chlorine is what really changes things dramatically... [the bottled water] industry calls it pixie dust - they put some minerals actually back into the water to improve the taste…  The fact that West Virginia-type events happen so infrequently actually I think is a testament to the quality of our drinking water.  I mean, it's quite remarkable.  I could go anywhere in the U.S. and have some tap water and not really give a second thought about its quality.”

GAO Tells Congress More Regulation of Agriculture is Needed to Protect Water – the Government Accountability Office has issued a report that questions whether we can collectively meet the nation’s water quality goals by relying on one of the primary tools under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The report, titled “Changes Needed If Key EPA Program Is to Help Fulfill the Nation’s Water Quality Goals”, examined the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) process that is intended to help the nation meet the designated uses and water quality standards established for U.S. water bodies.  GAO's review showed that EPA's existing regulations do not explicitly require TMDLs to include key features, and without such features in TMDLs impaired water bodies are unlikely to attain standards.  State officials reported that long-established TMDLs generally do not exhibit factors most helpful for attaining water quality standards, particularly for nonpoint source pollution (e.g., farms and storm water runoff).  GAO recommends that EPA issue new regulations for TMDL development, adding key features.  Further, Congress should consider revising the Clean Water Act's approach to addressing nonpoint source pollution.

What Should Be the Drinking Water Community’s Reaction to Charleston (WV) Contamination: more source water protection; more regulation on chemical storage; immediate detection technology, treatment technology, more regulation, less regulation, more intergovernmental planning, etc.?  Please comment.

Water in the Anthropocene – 3 minute documentary on the global water cycle and status (Youtube).

California Threatened by Drought – Gov. Warns of Drinking Water Shortages (USA Today).

Man Breaks Into New Jersey Water Treatment Site and Gets Stuck 24-inch Pipe for Several Hours (news).

January 16, 2014

Senate Brass Inventories Legislation (S. 1824) – a number of states are urging their Democratic Senators to co-sign the bill including: Delaware, North Carolina, Florida, New York, New Mexico, etc.  The bill is awaiting the first Democratic co-sponsor, to join Senators Enzi, Roberts Barrasso, Risch, Moran, Hatch, Crapo, Thune, Boozman, and Blunt (MO).

Charleston (WV) Virginia Drinking Water Contamination – is it relevant that the drinking water system is a for-profit private system?  "Asked over the weekend whether there should have been more oversight and emergency planning, Governor Tomblin replied, 'I’m not someone who runs West Virginia American Water.' One might ask who is. It is not just a matter of the name of the C.E.O. of a private company with a monopoly on a major public good; it is a question of who is responsible for providing one of the most basic human needs, clean and safe water, and how the public can hold them to that responsibility. The crisis is a study in what it means to have a political system that gives no answer to that question"  (New Yorker).

Lake Tahoe Fire Works Debris CWA Violation – a new federal lawsuit accusing the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority of polluting the alpine lake with debris from Fourth of July and Labor Day fireworks subject to up to $75 million in fines (Time).

January 12, 2014

UT Congressman Matheson and MS Congressman Harper Stand Up for Rural Water (UT homepage) – the two Congressmen wrote the appropriations committee last week urging for passage of their bill (H.R. 654) which would reauthorize EPA technical assistance.  If passed, the will would allow EPA more options to fund technical assistance under Continuing Resolutions - and require EPA to prioritize funding to the technical assistance that are most beneficial (Congressional letter).  The bill is likely to be considered in the Senate in the coming weeks.

West Virginia Drinking Water Crises Day Four Assessment – a large number of people used the water for seven hours until the no drink order was given on Thursday evening, more than 150 people have showed up at emergency rooms complaining of rashes, upset stomachs and other ailments, FEMA supplying millions of liters of drinking water, federal authorities investigating leak, company was exempt from state inspections and permitting since it stores chemicals, schools/businesses/airports closed, leak started through a one-inch hole in a storage tank before breaching mortar that failed in a containment wall, the infrastructure “was primed for a water crisis”, the intake for the system is downstream by a little more than a mile on the same side of the river as the tanks containing the chemicals, and “caused by the public water intakes being so close” (sources: WSJ, AP, WashPost).

NRWA FY2015 Appropriations Request Levels Will Be Distributed Very Soon – with the final FY2014 appropriations bill expected to be released tomorrow.

ASDWA Releases Summary and Presentations from the 2013 Joint National Capacity Development & Operator Certification Workshop (ASDWA).

World Bank Rural Water in India – only 31% of the 167 million rural households in India have access to tap water and domestic toilets. About 67% of the rural population continues to defecate in the open and India accounts for about 50% of the world’s open defecation (World Bank).

New York Announces Plan for $1.6 Billion in Federal Funds for Storms Sandy, Irene and Lee (along with state funds) for Water Utilities – to protect against future storms through the construction of dikes, levees, and movable floodwalls (more).

 

Federal Government Announces New Infrastructure Protection Plan - the so-called NIPP 2013 builds on the effective practices used by both public and private sector partners over the past several years, and provides the foundation to strengthen our partnership structures, enhance our risk management efforts, and motivate participation through a Call-To-Action that will help implement and achieve the National objectives described in Presidential Policy Directive-21 Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience.  It reflects input provided as part of the development process that took place over the past year.  Partners are encouraged to review NIPP 2013 and supplemental information: NIPP plan, fact sheet, plan for resilience in critical infrastructure projects, and assistance with vulnerability assessments.

EPA’s Water and Energy Nexus in Disasters Webinar Series: Emergency Power Generation on January 22, 2014 (NY Rural Water).

January 5, 2014

Congress Returns – this week and is expected to release their final Omnibus Appropriations Act to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2014.  Congress is expected to consider the Omnibus bill before January 15, before the end of the current Continuing Resolution.  The bill will contain funding levels for all rural water funding priorities.

Congress Returns – as the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act becomes effective (January 4), making much of the existing brass inventories in water supplies obsolete.  Wyoming Senator Enzi is expected to press for advancement of his legislation (S. 1824) to exempt brass inventories from the new law.  Senator Enzi has indicated that the bill could pass if it can attract more cosponsors.  Senators Roberts (KS), Barrasso (WY), Risch (ID), Moran (KS) and Hatch (UT) have agreed to co-sponsor.  A draft letter for communities to use to encourage their Senators to co-sponsor is available here.  

NRWA Advocates for Increased SRF Funding and Grants in the Final Congressional Funding Act for 2014 (NRWA statement).

NRWA Comments on EPA’s Five-Year Strategic Plan – urging the agency to prioritize technical assistance, collaboration, and compliance flexibility (NRWA comments).

NRWA Compliance Report – a survey of state association executive directors’ comments on their state compliance initiatives (report).

Kansas Rural Water Conference Vendors’ Map with 327 Vendors (map).

FL Customer Pays Water Bill with Cocaine (news).

Environmental Newspeak – “City of Topeka distributes contaminated water to multiple rural districts,” says newspaper covering excendence of haloacetic acids (news).  According to local drinking water expert, the content and implication of the federally mandated notice, just panics our customers.”  In a similar case in Kentucky, the state told the public not to be concerned about health implications (more).  According to EPA, “a causal link between adverse reproductive or developmental health effects and exposure to chlorinated drinking water or DBPs has not been established… Despite inconsistent findings across studies…  that no dose-response relationship or causal link has been established between exposure to chlorinated drinking water or disinfection byproducts and adverse developmental…  EPA's evaluation of the best available studies, is that they do not support a conclusion at this time as to whether exposure to chlorinated drinking water or disinfection byproducts causes adverse developmental and reproductive health effects…” (EPA).

Louisiana Woman Blames Disinfection Byproducts For Cancer (more).

Global Private Water Company’s Connecticut Sewage Spill – along the Naugatuck River.  A sewage leak from the Veolia Environment North America wastewater treatment plant in Seymour, Connecticut, spilled about 150,000 gallons of raw sewage December 25, into the Naugatuck River before it was contained (more).

The Dangerous Return of Water Privatization – “during the 1800s, private companies controlled the water systems of several large U.S. cities—to dire effect. Because the companies were more interested in making a profit than providing good service, many poor residents lacked access to water. As a result, cholera outbreaks were common in poor neighborhoods; water pressure was sometimes too low to stop fires, which destroyed both homes and businesses” (magazine).

Ohio Taste and Odor Problems – Columbus continues to battle foul water odors and flavors. The Hap Cremean Water plant in Columbus has received over 1,000 complaints about foul smells and water flavor since mid-November. The water is safe for consumption but engineers continue to search for the cause and correct the issue (more).

E. Coli Detection in Deerfield Beach, FL – the city warned 60,000 users and issued an advisory when E. coli was detected in a well.  Source of the microbe was not identified (more).

December 31, 2013

Au Revoir Rob Johnson and John Montgomery, the Leaders of Rural Water’s “Modern Era” Retire – NRWA President’s speeches honoring John Montgomery and Rob Johnson – and Vermont Rural Water Association’s tribute.

December 21, 2013

NRWA Nominates Wilmer Melton (NC RWA) and Paul Fulgham (UT RWA) to Represent You on the EPA National Drinking Water Advisory Panel (more).

NRWA TED Talks – Ideas worth spreading; are MCLs overly conservation due to the process used for developing them (more)?  Contributors: Daniel (NC), Dr. John (NRWA), John (Mass.), George (MD), and Earl (WY).

On December 20, 2013, the President signed into law: H.R. 3588 – the "Community Fire Safety Act of 2013," which exempts fire hydrants from Safe Drinking Water Act lead level standards for pipes, fittings, fixtures, solder, and flux.

Congress Break With No Action on S. 1824; Relief from the Jan. 4, 2014 Compliance Date for Brass Inventories – we will be attempting to increase the public attention on the issue to promote action in Congress in January.  If you would like to participate, please email us an estimate of the value of your existing inventory and an email address for a local reporter in your community.

EPA Revised Their “Summary Of The Reduction Of Lead In Drinking Water Act And Frequently Asked Questions” – in anticipation of the exemption for fire hydrants in the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 (Question #5, page 5).

Mount Rainier (WA) Ex-operate Convicted of Sabotage – for 15 of violations of the Clean Water Act after he purposefully allowed 200,000 gallons of sewage to spill into the Nisqually River in 2011 (more).

Greenpeace: Video of Santa Detailing How Global Warming is Cancelling Christmas (YouTube).

Only Half of the Prescription Drugs and other Emerging Contaminants in Sewage are Removed by Treatment Plants – finds a new report.  The impact of most of these “chemicals of emerging concern” on the health of people and aquatic life remains unclear (more).

Wisconsin Well Water Tainted by Hormones – in one of the most intensively farmed parts of America’s Dairyland (more).

December 17, 2013

Senate Passes Fire Hydrant Exemption Legislation – Tuesday evening, the Senate passed H.R. 3588, a bill to exempt fire hydrants from coverage under the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.  A number of Senators requested that the bill be passed through unanimous consent.  Earlier this month, the House passed the same bill by a 384-0 vote.  The legislation now moves to the President for his signature before becoming law.  The initial House bill authored by Congressmen Johnson (OH) and Tonko (NY) was a response to guidance issued by the EPA in October, that included fire hydrants as water supply fixtures to be covered by the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, starting on January 4, 2014.  The Power of Associations: state rural water associations, their members, and all the national water and local government associations have been pressing for passage of this legislation.

The Magnanimous Senator Wicker Standing Up for (Mississippi) Rural Water – in order for the U.S. Senate to expedite passage of the fire hydrants legislation (H.R. 3588), the bill had to move ahead of Mississippi Senator Wicker's drinking water legislation (S. 864), "The Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Assistance Act," which had been considered for similar expedited consideration for quite some time.  Senator Wicker was asked if he could allow the hydrants bill to be considered in the closing hours of this Congressional session if he were promised that his bill would be considered early next year.  The gracious Senator Wicker agreed to support the hydrants bill and allow S. 864 to be considered early next year.  Wicker's bill has broad bipartisan support, it could prevent EPA technical assistance funding from ever being terminated again during continuing resolutions (like  in FY2011), and would ensure that EPA technical assistance is targeted to where it is most beneficial in your state.  All of the water world was focused on Mississippi yesterday, making Kirby Mayfield proud of his Senator's special help.  All Senators are urged to cosponsor S. 864.  The following are the current cosponsors: Baucus (MT), Boozman (AR), Cochran (MS), Crapo (ID), Heitkamp (ND), Hirono (HI), Inhofe (OK), Johnson (SD),Klobuchar (MN),Landrieu (LA), Moran (KS), Risch (ID), Tester (MT), Udall (MN), Vitter (LA), Levin (MI), and Schatz (HI).

Last Day for Support of Enzi Bill to Exempt Brass Inventories from Jan. 4th Deadline in U.S. Senate – today (Dec. 18) is likely the last day for a chance for Senate passage of S. 1824, Senator Enzi's (WY) bill to exempt communities' existing brass inventories of water supply fixtures from the January 4, 2014 compliance date under the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.  Senator Enzi has indicated that the bill could pass the Senate by unanimous consent this week if the legislation can attract Democratic support to cosponsor the bill, and approach the Senate leadership with him (Enzi statement).  We are not aware of any Democratic support as of this morning.

December 16, 2013

Administration Has Concerns with WIFIA (Corps’ letter).

December 15, 2013

The Power of An Association – “EPA Backs Away on Covering Hydrants Under Lead Content Regulation,” in this case the power of all the national water and local government associations who have been pressing EPA and the Congress for a change in policy (statement).  EPA officials said they won't pursue their plans.  “In response to the feedback received through that process, EPA concluded that fire hydrants are not widely used as a potable source of water and that the guidance should be revised to exclude fire hydrants if Congress doesn't take action to do so before the January deadline,” An EPA spokesperson said in a statement (more).

EPA Lead and Copper Rule Rewrite – new regulatory authorities on the table in all facets of the rule: additional monitoring, new monitoring protocols, expanded regulations for dealing with pipes now considered homeowners’ responsibility, additional public notification, etc.  This explained at last week’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) meeting in Washington.  None of the proposals for new authorities is a fait accompli.  EPA explained that all new proposals will be discussed under a review panel that will likely be assembled immediately and work through most of next year to craft recommendations to the agency.  NRWA has nominated John Sasur to represent small and rural communities on this panel.  At the NDWAC meeting, the environmental community made a thorough presentation that advocated for much more stringency in the new rules including all the proposed ideas listed above.  EPA has provided all the presentations at the meeting except for the environmental community’s which we should have any day (LCR presentations on page 122).

The Power of Two Associations – Mississippi and North Dakota Rural Water’s Senators sponsored legislation (S. 864) this year to reauthorize the Safe Drinking Water Act technical assistance provision to prevent funding termination during Continuing Resolutions (like 2008).  Last week, the two associations were notified that the Senators are working to have the bill “hotlined.”  This expedited Senate process allows consensus legislation to pass on unanimous consents.  MS Rural Water Kirby Mayfield said about the legislation last week, “Small and rural communities in Mississippi would greatly benefit from enactment of the bipartisan Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) technical assistance reauthorization bill. In addition reauthorizing and expired SDWA provision, the legislation provides additional statutory directives to EPA.  The new directives would ensure that any funding appropriated would be targeted for the most beneficial assistance for small and rural communities trying to comply with all of the rules and regulations under the SDWA.  There is some urgency in enacting this legislation because it allows the Agency to fund technical assistance during Continuing Resolutions.  Our small and rural communities in Mississippi believe this EPA funded local initiative is the most effective environmental protection and compliance effort for drinking water…”  Contact Kirby for this full statement.

Mass. John Sasur’s Acuity – Mass. Rural Water Association's National Director, John Sasur of Three Rivers Fire District (MA) is calculating estimates of national compliance costs of drinking water regulations that are becoming as influential as any agency, consulting firm or think tank.  His resources: his experience, his own analysis, his own data gathering, and ability.  Sasur’s estimate of the compliance cost of the new ban on existing brass inventories has become the main estimate in the U.S. Senate discussion (see Senate statement).  Sasur’s estimate on the cost savings of the CCR policy change to allow for e-publishing has now become the standard national figure (cited).

December 13, 2013

Brass Inventories Relief Act – Senator Enzi’s bill, S.1824, Drinking Water Supply Assistance Act, could pass the Senate by unanimous consent this week if the legislation can attract Democratic support to cosponsor the bill, and approach the Senate leadership with him (Enzi statement).

December 11, 2013

The Power of An Association (Brass Inventories Relief Act) – you may not have a relationship with the small and rural community supportive Senator Mike Enzi.  But Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems (WARWS) does - and that will help you.  The Senator’s new bill will provide relief from the January 4, 2014 compliance date of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and benefit every member of every state rural water association.  Grassroots association advocacy: only by organizing together can we accomplish what we could not accomplish individually.  Senator Enzi is planning on introducing the legislation (text) tomorrow.  It would allow communities to use-up their existing/purchased inventories of brass fixtures (Senator Enzi’s fact sheet).  Senators Roberts (KS), Barrasso (WY), Risch (ID), Moran (KS) and Hatch (UT) have agreed to co-sponsor.  It is estimated by former NRWA Regulatory Committee Chairman and Mass. Rural Water Association's National Director, John Sasur of Three Rivers Fire District (MA) that this could save water supplies upwards of a billion dollars.  NYRWA member Henry Friedman (Public Works Supt., Village of Margaretville) points out that, without this legislation, small communities may not have immediate access to some fixtures during water emergencies (page 11).  A draft letter for communities to use to encourage their Senators to co-sponsors is available here.  

Des Moines Chooses Fluoridation  – a rural water member in Iowa told us, last week, that the anti-fluoride effort in Des Moines was, “a vocal minority who have lobbied well to have anti-fluoride comments posted on the Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) website during a public comment period they held in November.  That is not the official position of Des Moines CEO who went on record saying the utility will continue its fluoridation practice due to the data that overwhelmingly supports that fluoridation of drinking water at current levels does not pose a detectable health risk” (more).

Local Grassroots Relief Movement Begins – City of Zephyrhills (FL) passes city resolution in favor of Enzi legislation.  New York and Florida Rural Water too (resolution/letters).

Source Water Protection – North Dakota spill of an estimated 650-barrel spill of saltwater and 20-barrel spill of crude oil reached a small tributary of the Little Missouri River (more).

Ivy League Likes Tap Water – Harvard Votes to Ban Bottled Water (more).

December 8, 2013

Hydrants Legislation in Senate – the U.S. Senate could take up the House passed fire hydrants exemption bill (HR 3588) as soon as this week.  Supporting Senate offices have indicated an effort to move for full Senate consideration.  However, some key Senators are withholding support needed to allow for expeditious considered of the bill, which may allow EPA an opportunity to correct the problem without enacting new legislation.  NRWA and all the national water groups have teamed up with a number of local government associations to support Senate passage of the legislation (more).

Brass Inventories Relief – a similar effort to pass legislation to allow for communities to utilize their existing brass water fixture inventories after the Jan. compliance date is gathering support in the U.S. Senate (NRWA letter to Senate).  Wyoming Rural Water has been pressing the issue with their Senators.  WY Senator Enzi has indicated an interest in introducing legislation to provide relief.  If your Senator is interesting supporting relief legislation please contact us.  The more Senators supporting relief, the greater the chance of passage.

How 1926 Protects the Little Guy – reported by MSRWA, "this case just came up in Copiah County (MS) where the county was going to build a new hospital just outside the City of Hazlehurst (MS).  The vast majority of the location of the hospital is in the Copiah Water Association’s certificated area, with a very small portion, like a small storage room in the certificated area of the City. The city claimed rights to the entire hospital.  MSRWA connected the rural water district with Bear Creek lead attorney, Jim Herring.  The result: Copiah Water Association will be serving the entire hospital,” (federal district court ruling).

Public Right to Know – 2 parts per billion of haloacetic acid in Baltimore (MD) area raises risk of cancer and requires some children to get to doctor (newspaper).

Hays (KS) Water Superintendent Fined and Sentenced to Probation for Negligent Discharge (more).

Ithaca (NY) Finds Massive Amount of Chemicals in Sewer System (more).

Fluoride Should Be Removed from the Water in Des Moines – because any marginal benefit of fluoridation is outweighed by other significant health risks when it goes through the digestive system, it is stored in body tissues (Des Moines Register).

A Louisiana Family’s Well Water Ignites and Drives Them to City Water (more).

Unregulated Chemicals Found in Drinking Water – including barium, strontium, bromoform, lithium, benzotriazole methyl-1H, triclosan, atrazine, caffeine, isophorone, metolachlor, perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and nine other perfluorinated compounds (Environmental Health News).

Little Axe (OK) to Get Rural Water (Native Times) – top reasons to get rural water:

Agriculture Secretary Announces Rural Water Projects 74 projects in 40 states.  Eagle Butte, S.D., has been selected to receive a $2 million loan/grant combination to upgrade a wastewater treatment system that serves more than 3,000 residents in one of the poorest parts of the state (more).

December 3, 2013

The Power of Association – the House of Representatives passed the fire hydrants exemption bill last night (see statement from sponsor Congressman Johnson, Ohio, in the next post).  Now the campaign moves to the U.S. Senate.  All the national water associations are urging the lead Senators for drinking water legislation to pass the House bill as soon as possible this year - see statement (a companion Senate bill is not necessary and could take more time to pass).  A draft letter for communities to use to urge their Senators’ support, that is consistent with national associations’ effort, is available here.  Thank you Ohio and New York Rural Water Associations for persuading your Congressmen to lead this important relief legislation.  Ohio Rural Water met personally with Congressman Johnson last week in Ohio in a display of grassroots advocacy.  The House effort was led by Ohio and New York, but new states will likely lead the Senate effort.  Grassroots association advocacy: only by organizing together can we accomplish what we could not accomplish individually.

Rep. Johnson's Community Fire Safety Act Passes House – Congressman Bill Johnson (OH) released the following statement after the House of Representatives unanimously passed his bipartisan Community Fire Safety Act with a vote of 384-0.  “Today, the House of Representatives took an important step in stopping the EPA from going forward on a costly and potentially dangerous rule that would ban the installation of current fire hydrants after January 4, 2014.  This legislation recognizes the fact that fire hydrants are not a major source of drinking water, and it protects public safety by ensuring that fire hydrants can continue to be produced and installed.  Shower valves are already exempted from the Safe Water Drinking Act, and now this legislation exempts fire hydrants too.  I thank Congressman Tonko for introducing this commonsense, bipartisan legislation with me, and I urge the Senate to take prompt action and pass this bill before the end of the year.”

December 1, 2013

House of Reps. to Vote on Hydrants Legislation (H.R. 3588) Monday – Prospects for House passage are positive because the legislation is supported by both the Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee responsible for drinking water legislation.  NRWA and the other national water associations are collaborating on enacting this policy, joint support letter to Congress.  A sample support letter for H.R. 3588 for local communities to use with their Members of Congress is available here.  The Senate campaign will likely start immediately after House action.  New York, Ohio, Florida, Washington, Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming, etc. associations have been pressing for similar relief for existing brass fixtures inventories (more).  If your state is interesting in pressing for relief, please contact us.

Want Water, Who You Gonna Call? – "Rural residents in southwest and southern Ellis County started the process in August 2010 of having drinkable water in their homes by contacting Elmer Ronnebaum and Rita Clary of the Kansas Rural Water Association," (more).

Bucksport (ME) Gets $10.5 Million from USDA for Wastewater Treatment Upgrade (TV news).

Columbia Water Treatment Facility (MS) Finds $20,000 Worth of Damage from Vandals (TV news).

Knoxville (TN) 3,400-gallon Truck Gas Spill Leaks Through Creek to Lake (TV news).

Town of Winnsboro’s (SC) High Levels of Manganese Turns Water Brownish-yellow (more).  “It is not dangerous to your health and does not cause any illnesses,” Mayor Roger Gaddy noted. “But it doesn’t look very pretty.”

Arnold (MO) Gets Hacked After “Honey Pot” Water Utility Trap Lures Hackers in Show of Cyberthreats – a hacker penetrated an internal computer address leading to the control system that operated the pumps at the heart of Arnold's operation (more).

Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) – this new loan program may be included in the water resources development bill, possibly during first week of December.  And the history of the transportation program (TIFIA), that this new program is modeled on, shows that a small initial appropriation could grow quickly.  In the 2012 surface transportation reauthorization, TIFIA was significantly expanded. The law increased TIFIA funding from $122 million annually to $1.75 billion over fiscal years 2013 and 2014.  AWWA came up with the idea for developing WIFIA four years ago, but there hasn't been a sufficient legislative vehicle in Congress to move the proposal until now.  Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (CA) is a strong proponent of WIFIA and is confident some sort of WIFIA proposal will be included in the final bill.

November 26, 2013

H.R. 3588,  Fire Hydrants Legislation Could be Considered in the House of Representatives As Soon As Monday (12/2/2013) – H.R. 3588, sponsored by Congressmen Johnson (OH) and Tonko (NY) would exempt fire hydrants from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and direct the EPA to consult with National Drinking Water Advisory Council to study potential changes needed to the Lead and Copper Rule.  The current effective compliance date of January, 4, 2014 and the limited number of days available in this year's Congressional schedule have expedited consideration of the legislation.  Prospects for passage in the House of Representatives are positive because the legislation is now supported by both the Republicans and Democrats on the House Committee responsible for drinking water legislation.  NRWA and the other national water associations are collaborating on enacting this policy and have crafted a joint support letter to Congress.  A sample support letter for H.R. 3588 for local communities to use with their Members of Congress is available here.

November 23, 2013

Hydrants: Could It Be Another CCR Type of Relief Movement Starting in the House to Exempt Fire Hydrants from New & Costly “No Lead” Standards – H.R. 3588 by Rep. Johnson (OH) and Rep. Tonko (NY) would exempt fire hydrants from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and direct the EPA to consult with National Drinking Water Advisory Council to study potential changes needed to the Lead and Copper Rule.  NRWA and the other national water associations are pressing for reconsideration of, and flexibility in, this policy (letter to EPA).  Here is a sample support letter for H.R. 3588 to your Congressman.  EPA has scheduled a webinar the Act as it related to fire hydrants for Monday.  If you would like to make comments to EPA, please register (EPA registration).

Why Is Ohio Becoming a Center of National Water Policy? – the recent effort to exempt fire hydrants from the lead reduction law and the new effort to authorize the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Art are emanating from Ohio (more).  We asked Ohio Rural Water's executive director why is their state so active?  He replied, "Because we have a dedicated legislative committee who are working hard year-round to promote rural water initiatives."

Farm Bill Update – Farm bill talks stumbled badly Thursday and Chairman Lucas (OK) said it would be “very challenging” now for him to meet the Republican leadership’s schedule of having a final agreement back on the House floor by Dec. 13 (more).

From AWWA: "AWWA urges action as WIFIA moves to conference – the U.S. House and Senate negotiators have begun deliberations to iron out a single WRDA bill... The question now is whether or not WIFIA will end up in the final bill, and if so, what form it will take.  WIFIA would represent an important step forward in addressing the nation’s water infrastructure challenge.  It would provide federal loans to communities at low interest rates, allowing utilities to address more infrastructure at an accelerated pace. It is designed to complement, not replace, existing State Revolving Funds…  It is now critical for utilities with Senators and Representatives serving on the conference committee to begin reaching out to them and urging that WIFIA be included in the final bill, and that certain crucial changes be made in order to make it a viable program. We have posted a letter template for e-mails, talking points and a two-page paper describing the corrections needed to the Senate WIFIA proposal to assist with this outreach."


Fox News Covers, "EPA Power Grab" – states claim new EPA water rule could bring feds into your backyard (Fox News).

Utility Regulators Call for New Rate-making Rules for Water as the NARUC annual conference Nov. 20.  The new rate-making regulations would change how utilities determine charges for water supply and wastewater treatment, giving more weight to funding the expensive, fixed-cost investment in waterworks and, thus, relatively less weight to by-the-gallon charges customers pay for the water they consume (new resolution).

Wellington and Napoleon, Missouri Have 1,000 People Combined, Were Taken for $1.5 Million by Treasurer – who admitted in federal court this week that he stole the money.  He embezzled $939,485.53 from the road district and $590,674.37 from the fire district (more).

Albany (GA) Water, Gas & Light Treatment Plant Shuts Down After Finding 100,000 Gallons/day Leak "If that leak continues it could undermine the foundation. If we lose the foundation the structure up underneath the tank, it could collapse. The whole tank would have to come down if part of it were to come out,” (more).

U.S. EPA Chief Visit Disadvantaged Rural Communities with Bad Water – says it is "unacceptable" (more).

One Call Error Shuts Down Water in Oklahoma one Osage County town goes without water Thursday after gas company crews severed a main (more).

Why Has the Source of Life Become a Source of Global Tension (AlJazeera)?

Congressman Blumenauer (OR) Water Infrastructure Legislation the Water Protection and Reinvestment Trust Fund Act of 2013 (more).

Minnesota Nitrate Testing in 70,000 Wells (more).

MO Rural Water Goes to Solar Energy last Friday, their solar array was activated.  The association looks to advance this idea in water supplies, saying, "your water system can potentially capture even more savings on your electrical costs. City halls, water district offices,  pump stations, water and wastewater plants ... virtually any facility that uses electricity may be a candidate for a system (more).

Wisc. Drug Take Back Program Sees 19 Tons of Drugs in October  Greencheesebayland is ranked 4th in the nation in the total amount collected, trailing only the much larger states of California, Texas and New York (more).

EPA Seeks Comments on Their New Strategic Plan by January (ASDWA news).

November 21, 2013

Rep. Johnson (OH) Introduces Legislation to Exempt Fire Hydrants from New Lead Law – H.R 3542, the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013.  Rep. Johnson said, “On October 22, 2013 the EPA quietly decided that fire hydrants would no longer be compliant with a rule regulating the public’s drinking water.  Under the rule, no commercially available fire hydrants could be installed after January 4, 2014.  This means that whenever a car slides off the road and into a fire hydrant, cities across the country will either have to pay a fine to the EPA for installing an illegal fire hydrant, or risk leaving citizens in danger of being without life-saving fire hydrants.  While I support reducing the amount of lead in our drinking water, it is unconscionable that the EPA has put our public safety at risk because during the hot summer months sometimes, somewhere kids may play in fire hydrant water.  I’ve never heard of children becoming sick from playing in fire hydrant water.  My common sense legislation simply exempts fire hydrants from the law, just as shower valves are already exempted.  I urge the House to take quick action on this legislation and bring it to the floor for a vote.”

November 17, 2013

The Power of Association – positive developments on our effort to have hydrants not covered under the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.  On October 22, 2013, the EPA Frequently Asked Questions for implementing the Act listed fire hydrants as cover fixtures (more).  NRWA and the other national water groups are pressing for reconsideration of, and flexibility in, this policy (letter to EPA).  Last week we heard that EPA may be open to relooking at the issue and may hold a stakeholders public meeting in the coming weeks.  NRWA will participate at any stakeholder meeting.

NRWA’s Efforts on Existing Leaded Brass Inventories – NRWA has been pressing the issue of relief for existing inventories that will force small and rural communities with existing inventories (currently considered safe) to scrap their inventories after January 4, 2014.  NRWA recently asked Congressional leaders if this was their intent (more).  New York Rural Water Association has engaged one of their Congressman on the issue - and he has expressed interest in assisting his community facing this dilemma.  The community (a NYRWA member) has over $15,000 invested in leaded inventory - and raised a new issue in the effort to seek relief.  The local public work superintendent mentioned that after having to scrap all fittings not in compliance, most communities could not afford to keep the same number of fittings in their inventories.  This would result in a lack of fixtures in emergency situations and “operators would have to hope they have the right fitting for a repair to their system in an emergency.”  If your community has an inventory of leaded fixtures and are interested in a compliance option other than scrapping the inventory, please contact us (NRWA).

California Rural Water Association Assumes EPA Appropriations Responsibility – last week, the House Appropriations subcommittee for the EPA changed the guard.  Congressman Simpson (ID) has relinquished his role of chairman to Congressman Calvert (CA) who will move into Simpson’s old role and become the Chairman.  CRWA is familiar with the role, as a congressman from CA chaired this committee for much of the 90s.

EPA Comments on White House Cybersecurity Framework – EPA would like to receive input by the end of this month (EPA comments). The White House released their Draft Cybersecurity Framework two weeks ago (framework).  NRWA praised the Administration’s initial Framework in August (more).

Chicago Sinkhole – water main break creates huge sinkhole on Chicago’s South Side, closes street.  Bottled water distributed and boil order announced (more).

Kansas Wastewater Manager Pleads Guilty – for making false statements about nitrogen levels in the Hays wastewater treatment plant’s effluent and to filing false reports and lying EPA (more).

Mass. Rural Water National Director Releases Water Documentary – for the 75th anniversary of the building of the Quabbin Reservoir.  The director of the documentary commented that, “it is an interesting but sad depiction of vibrant communities, people and homes that with the arrival of engineers and workers from Boston, were either moved, dismantled or destroyed.  It is an interesting testimony of how the citizens of small communities forfeited their properties for the benefit of the greater good.”  The director is skeptical if this would ever happen today (YouTube).

Colorado Del Norte Water Contaminated With E. Coli (more).

Iowa State Association Entrepreneurship – last month, Iowa Rural Water held an “in-district visit” with Congressman Loebsack.  IRWA started the visit at a new rural water system tower which will provide water and fire protection to a small town with the local officials, the mayor and the rural water association president.  Then they toured a well field, highlighting the source water protection plan.

New York Rural Water Forward Article on Top Issues Facing Water Industry (more).

Volunteer Monitoring is Focus of Watershed Academy Webcast – from EPA, on November 19 (register).

New Senate Infrastructure Proposal (from ASDWA).

New EPA Website on Where U.S. Population Gets Drinking Water (EPA map).

November 12, 2013

End of Year and Early Next Year Water Policy Activities: we expect legislative or administrative action on the following NRWA policy agenda items over the next few months: SRFs; TMDLs; Cybersecurity; Chlorine gas supplies; Early Implementation of the Revised Total Coliform Rule; Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Revisions; Relief from Recent Fire Hydrant Policy; and Lead Inventories (more).  All NRWA policy activity (more).  NRWA funding activity (more).  Monetizing the benefit of NRWA advocacy (documentary).

November 10, 2013

NRWA Pressing for Relief from Recent Fire Hydrant Policy – On October 22, 2013, the EPA Frequently Asked Questions for implementing the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act listed fire hydrants as cover fixtures – see Mueller’s explanation of the issue (more).  NRWA and the other national water groups are pressing for reconsideration of, and flexibility in, this policy (letter to EPA).  We are hearing positive developments on this request and that officials in the Administration and Congress are looking for possible solutions.

Positive Initial Response on NRWA’s Efforts on Existing Leaded brass Inventories – NRWA has been pressing the issue of relief for existing inventories that will force small and rural communities with existing inventories (currently considered safe) to scrap their inventories after January 4, 2014.  NRWA recently asked Congressional leaders if this was their intent (more).  Initial conversations with Congressional officials have indicated support for some type of relief.  If your Congressmen is interested in helping, please contact us (NRWA).  Florida Rural Water leads the grassroots effort, engaging a number of their Congressman (statement).  Mass. Rural Water’s John Sasur (who was responsible for most thorough estimate of all, on the cost-savings of the new CCR e-publishing policy) estimates that there could be $450 million in existing leaded brass inventories.

Philippines Typhoon – so far 10,000 people are estimated to have died in the Philippines from typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded, which reportedly destroyed around three-quarters of the area of Leyte province.he immediate focus of reports about the extent of the devastation in the Philippines has been centred around Tacloban, a city of around 200,000 people where some estimates predict 10,000 people could have died alone.  All systems, all vestiges of modern living communications, power, water all are down. There is no way to communicate with the people.  An Oxfam team spoke of seeing children begging for help, holding up signs that read, “Help. We need water, food and medicines.”  The first shipments of emergency assistance have begun arriving in storm-wrecked regions of the Philippines, with aid agencies warning the extent of the devastation wreaked by typhoon Haiyan have severely hampered the logistics of bringing vital shelter, water and food to the millions affected (more).

Philippine Earthquake Modifies Aquifers and Springs – Agusan del Sur, the spring that supplied practically the entire municipality of Rosario with drinking water dried up following Tuesday’s 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook Bohol and other parts of the Visayas as well as Mindanao, killing up to 180 people (more).

NRWA Participates in CDC Project to Gauge Public Information on Fluoride – thank you to the rural water members who volunteered to consult with CDC on their new public information on fluoride in drinking water.  One Washington State rural water member provided a detailed, thorough, and academic reply to CDC, which is illuminating on the issue from local governments’ perspective (comments).

Will Manganese Become a Future Regulation – from the Mass. primacy agency: Dear Massachusetts Public Water Supplier, as part of a continued effort to use the most up-to-date information to protect public health, the MassDEP is announcing a new outreach initiative designed to raise awareness regarding manganese in public drinking water.  Some PWS may find that they need to take additional measures in order to limit undue exposure to the more sensitive population of consumers served… Studies indicate that infants may not process manganese as well as older children and adults (more).”   John with Mass Rural Water said this is the same feeler type protocol used in the ultimate formation of the 2ug/L perchlorate MCL in 2006 in Mass.  George with MD rural water commented that although very small amount of manganese in the water can create large aesthetic issues in the distribution system, 50 micrograms isn't enough to cause the aesthetic problems.  And that this is the first he had heard of any issue with health at these levels.  The regulation identified in the Mass. policy would create hardship for a lot of systems, especially in rural states that simply put up with the minimal nuisance manganese presents because they can't afford treatment expansion for aesthetics.

Rural Water State Association Entrepreneurs, Policy & Politics:  (Thurs.)  More than $850 million has been appropriated by the Kentucky General Assembly between 2000 and 2010 for Kentucky water projects, a water association official told state lawmakers Thursday.  “We would not be able to accomplish what we have and be able to serve the unserved, and underserved, people if it had not been for your input as the General Assembly,” Kentucky Rural Water Association Executive director Gary Larimore told the Interim Joint Committee on Natural Resources and Environment (more).  Tuesday, Utah Rural Water got a call from one of their Congressman telling them that he was on his way over to the office to ask how he could help advance their agenda for passing our EPA technical assistance bill (S. 864 & H.R. 654).

Louisiana Health Department Adopts Emergency Chlorine Rule in Response to Finding Naegleria – announced Nov. 6, requiring public water systems to increase their minimum disinfectant levels by 25 percent and the number of samples taken per month (more).

President Asks Agencies to Help Communities Develop Climate Resiliency (more).

California, More Human Remains Found at Carson Sewage Treatment Plant (more).

Florida Sinkholes Open at Branford Wastewater Treatment Plant, Drains Storage (more).

Tanzania Water Supply in Rural Areas to Use Solar Power for Water Pumping (more).

November 3, 2013

NRWA Pressing the Issue of Relief for Existing Inventories of Leaded Brass Fixtures – that will force small and rural communities with existing inventories (currently considered safe) to scrap their inventories after January 4, 2014.  NRWA recently asked Congressional leaders if this was their intent (more).  If your Congressmen is interested in helping, please contact us (NRWA).  Mass. Rural Water’s John Sasur (who was responsible for most thorough estimate of all, on the cost-savings of the new CCR e-publishing policy) estimates that there could be $450 million in existing leaded brass inventories.

NRWA and National Water Groups Pressing for Flexibility in EPA Ruling the Hydrants are Covered Under the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water  – see Mueller’s explanation of the issue (more).

Farm Bill Conference Begins – the Farm Bill House Senate Conference opened with the initial session of the conference committee last week.  Over 270 regional, state, and national environmental, conservation, municipal wastewater and agriculture advocacy groups wrote to the conferees urging support for linking conservation compliance to crop insurance subsidies in the final bill.  The legislation authorizing many rural water priorities.

EPA Technical Assistance Bill Sponsors Look to Farm Bill – the Senate sponsors of legislation to reauthorize EPA technical assistance are considering if their legislation can be included with any new Farm Bill (more).  If enacted, the bill (S. 864 & H.R. 654) would: (1) provide EPA with an additional option for funding technical assistance during Continuing Resolutions (which would have prevented the FY2011 termination); (2) would allow EPA to the option of using funding for technical assistance from either their Management or Grants budgets, something EPA indicated would be helpful; and (3) limit EPA from awarding funding to technical assistance programs from outside your state to operate in your state.  If your Congressmen is interested in helping, please contact us (NRWA).

Federal Budget Update – as members of the committee trying to craft a budget deal by Dec 13 began deliberations.  Under the agreement that ended the shutdown, a joint House-Senate conference committee has until Dec. 13 to craft a bipartisan agreement on the FY14 budget.  If the committee can reach a compromise, appropriators would have until Jan. 15, when temporary funding for the federal government runs out, to write and pass spending bills that fit within the new budget.  If either the budget panel or the appropriators are unable to reach consensus on FY14 funding, it could lead to either a new continuing resolution funding the government at FY12 levels subject to sequestration or possible another government shutdown.  House and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairs are now trying to advance the appropriations process, sending an Oct. 31, letter to the members of the budget panel that urges for a top line budget figure to determine overall FY14 funding levels.

OH Water Employee Found Guilty – a former Ohio chemist pleaded guilty to falsifying water testing records was sentenced to four years probation and 500 hours of community service.  He could have gotten up to 13 years in prison for tampering with records under the Safe Drinking Water Act for failing to take samples (more).

Drinking Water Advisory Council to Review LCR Revisions – EPA’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council will meet December 11.  The agenda will focus on the proposed regulatory revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule as well as other program issues.

EPA Continues Key TMDL Model Revisions – for the Illinois River that is expected to be a blueprint for other interstate water quality issues.  NRWA is participating in efforts to have TMDLs reviewed for a number of small and rural communities.  We expect an model action plan for relief in the near future.

Suit Tests EPA Water TMDL Program – for a Homedale, Idaho wastewater treatment facility that allows discharges of total phosphorus (more).

Bottled Water Sales Rising as Soda Ebb – (NYTimes).

Cali Water System Fined $375,000 – for sewage spills that reached other bodies  of water, including a tap water source (more).

London’s $6.6 Billion SSO Problem (NYTimes).

Canada Helping Small Rural Communities Protect Drinking Water – almost 200 municipalities will receive support to help carry out source water protection plans, developed locally to  protect existing and future sources of drinking water (more).

House Congressional Calendar for 2014 Released (calendar).

Over 100 Year Old Pipe Break Floods Portlandia (more).

Boil Water Order in MS for TC Positives that are NOT Now Indicators of Fecal Coliforms  – and only waiting on the implementation of the RTCR to eliminate this process (RTCR). Ole Miss water supply, boil-water alert issued for 48-hours for nearly 20,000 people (more).

Penn. Chlorine Leak from 100 Gallon Tank Hospitalized Operator (more).  Federal government moves to limit use of gaseous chlorine (more).

AWWA’s  Cost Impact for Perchlorate Regulation – available on the AWWA website.  AWWA stated, “The economic impact to individual systems is expected to be significant, particularly for small water systems (estimated costs for systems serving a population of less than 500 are approximately $3 per 1,000 gallons).”  The study is helpful in analyzing the proposed rule.  EPA is delayed in meeting the statutory deadline of February 2013 to propose the perchlorate regulation - this was the appropriate course of action to ensure the rule incorporates the most advanced science and health effects research which is still evolving.  The study highlights the need for EPA to utilize the small community variance process that is in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and was included in the law to ensure that enforcement of uniform-technology-based standards would not adversely impact small, rural. and economically disadvantaged communities.  This principle is now commonly called environmental justice.  The SDWA small community variance provision is the environmental justice protection provision in the Safe Drinking Water Act and it should be included in the perchlorate rule.  We have been supportive EPA's movement toward this way since 2006, when EPA published a Federal Register notice to request comment on revisions to EPA’s national affordability methodology for small drinking water systems and a methodology for determining if an affordable variance technology is protective of public health.  The SDWA environmental justice provision allows for a legal "safe harbor" for an alternative compliance option that ensures the safety of the drinking water and a much less costly compliance scheme.

October 27, 2013

NRWA Asks Congress about Exemptions for Small Communities from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act Coming January 4, 2014 – and will force small and rural communities with existing inventories of drinking water system leaded brass components (currently considered safe) to scrap their inventories after January 4, 2014 (corporation stops, meter angle valves, elbows, various compression and flared fittings, etc.)  NRWA recently asked Congressional leaders if this was their intent (more).

WIFIA Closer Than Ever to Becoming Law Reports AWWA – after the House of Representatives approved the Water Resources Reform Development Act (H.R. 3080), on Wednesday.  The House bill will now be referred to a House-Senate “conference committee” which will convene soon to try to craft a single water resources bill that will go back to each body for a vote without amendment.  AWWA is asking its membership to contact their representatives in the House and ask them to support Rep. Bob Gibbs’ (OH) work on WIFIA (letter template, summary paper and talking points).  ASDWA and other state government associations have recently restated their opposition to WIFIA and its threat to the SRFs (more).  How does WIFIA comport with NRWA funding principles – see Regulatory Committee comments.

New OK §1926(b) Jury Decision to Rural Water District – City Threatened to Withhold Sewer Service From Developers If They Declined to Connect to City Water and That is Against the Law.  Attorney Steve Harris reports that in Wagoner County Rural Water District No. 5 v. City of Coweta, the jury ruled in favor of the water district and awarded 100% of the damages requested.  The case involved encroachments by the city to 4 discrete real estate developments.  The city raised the usual defenses of a claim that the water district had not made service available and that the cost to obtain water service.  These defenses were rejected by the jury.  The court will determine if the city’s water lines be forfeited to the water district later this year.  Harris recommends review of Kay Elec. Co-op. v. City of Newkirk, Okla.  647 F.3d 1039 (10th Cir.2011) for how threats to withhold one city service in order to gain another service are against the law.

White House Draft Cybersecurity Framework Released This Week – at by NIST, along with a comment form for submitting comments.  NRWA praised the Administration’s initial Framework in August (more).  On Sept. 28, 2013, NRWA Emergency Response Committee endorsed a new initiative to develop a model cybersecurity plan for small and rural communities.  The plan will be the first of its kind.  Committee members indicated the plan will be scalable to be appropriate for various sized systems and able to be modified as innovation occurs in the future.

CDC Request Assistance from Rural Water to Review Community Water Fluoridation Materials – a number of rural water members have agreed to participant with CDC on this project.  We plan on posting any comments and CDC materials in the coming weeks.  One comment from Washington state included, “I am not a proponent of public water fluoridation for many reasons, not the least is the cost for groundwater systems with multiple sources.  The CDC's blanket statement that public water fluoridation costs less than $1 per person per year is false for small systems with multiple ground water sources.”  Another rural water participant commented, “we have been approached twice this year by anti-fluoridation advocates.  They have requested that we stop fluoridating the drinking water.  We continued fluoridation since an early 1960's referendum.  We are hard pressed to change when the CDC website encourages and supports fluoridation.  However, opponents make some logical points against fluoridation and continues to be a topic in legislature almost.  My position is one of openness to learn more in order to make the wisest decision.” 

TMDLs Are Expensive and Unnecessary in Idaho (more).

National Drug Take Back Day (Google News).

Oregon Red Dye Test Causes Plant Shutdown – in Grants Pass water facility after a non-toxic red dye plume used to measure dispersal at the upriver treatment plant unexpectedly stayed intact and was visible in the plant’s filters (more).

EPA & USDA Release New Tools to Assist Rural and Small Water Systems in Providing Sustainable Services (more).

New Campaign for More Regulation of Gas Chlorine – centered around a new video campaign by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters.  The President signed an executive order in August, in the aftermath of the Texas industrial plant explosion, requiring three federal agencies to develop plans to prevent future chemical disasters.  An Oct. 31 deadline is nearing for U.S. EPA, DHS and OSHA.

EPA Webinar on Energy Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities on October 30 (more).

October 21, 2013

NRWA Nominates John Sasur (Mass. Rural Water) to Represent Small and Rural Communities on EPA Panel to Craft New Lead and Copper Rule EPA has started a stakeholder process through a Workgroup under the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) to consult on revisions to the Long-Term Lead and Copper Rule (LT-LCR).  The stakeholder process will likely last a year.  Some of the controversial issues that will be confronted by the panel include: requiring water systems to replace service lines owned by homeowners; changing the monitoring scheme which may result in more communities violating the ninetieth percent standard; requirements to provide homeowners with filters or point of use treatment; how water systems finance homeowners’ service line replacement; etc.  Thank you Massachusetts John for representing all of the members of state rural water associations.  Please forward any comments you may have on these issues to us (NRWA). 

President Obama Urges Congress to Pass a Farm Bill  Also, lawmakers in the House agreed on Friday to open negotiations with the Senate over a final version of the five-year (more).  The legislation authorizing many rural water priorities including: circuit riders; wastewater techs; sourcewater techs; and the rural water grant/loan program.  The Senate sponsors of legislation to reauthorize EPA technical assistance are considering if their legislation can be included with any new Farm Bill (more).  If enacted, the bill (S. 864 & H.R. 654) would: (1) provide EPA with an additional option for funding technical assistance during Continuing Resolutions (which would have prevented the FY2011 termination); (2) would allow EPA to the option of using funding for technical assistance from either their Management or Grants budgets, something EPA indicated would be helpful; and (3) limit EPA from awarding funding to technical assistance programs from outside your state to operate in your state.  Miss. Rural Water met with both the House and Senate sponsors last week, and both were enthusiastic and supportive of passing the legislation this year.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Mikulski Admits Appropriations May Have to Settle for Year-Long CR  said the Chairwoman on Wednesday,  Last week's fiscal deal give Congress until December 13 to come up with a broad budget deal.  Senator Mikulski is concerned that there may not be time to draft an omnibus package.

 

Ohio's New Nutrient Plan  to set specific limits for each Ohio stream.  Approval would put Ohio on a path to join Florida and Wisconsin as the only other states setting limits for phosphorus and nitrogen in waterways.  Wisconsin is enforcing tougher water-pollution restrictions for sewage-treatment plants and is offering farmers grants and incentives to reduce storm runoff from their fields (more).

Tuscaloosa County Commission Debates Existential Rural Water Question  should a rural water district provided a monopoly on service area be obligated to extend lines to underserved areas with their own finances (more)?

E. Coli in the Water  East Honolulu finds E. coli and concludes chlorinator is to blame, but it's unknown where the bacteria came from (more).  Clearwood Community Association (WA) finds E. coli in water supply.  Storage tank tests positive for E. coli, storage tanks were chlorinated.  Shallow well located in a natural depression with a seasonally high water table (more).  Indian Peaks (CO) subdivision tests positive E.coli.  Cause of the contamination has not been determined.  Water department flushed elevated levels of chlorinated water through the distribution system (more).

House Republicans Accusing EPA of Rushing Rule Over Waters to Expand EPA Authority for Unprecedented Control of Private Property (more).

House to Take Up Water Resources Bill  House Majority Leader Cantor says the House will begin consideration of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (H.R. 3080) the week of Oct. 21.  The Senate already has passed its version of the legislation, in May (S. 601).

October 13, 2013

Mississippi Rural Water on Capitol Hill to Press for EPA Technical Assistance Funding and Legislation (MS RWA).

Louisiana and Mississippi Rural Water Associations Brief Senate Funding Committee on Emergency Response this week, explaining that rural water associations have been the main source of assistance in emergency response in small and rural communities.  For example, rural water technicians were the led assistance in Greensburg, Kansas in restoring the drinking water and sanitary sewer service to that tornado stricken small community (providing water to the temporary hospital, housing units, and the community in time).  This was also the case in the 2011 flooding in Vermont, superstorm Sandy, Joplin Missouri, the 2012 tornadoes in the south and in the response to the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast where the hundreds of small and rural communities replied on assistance from the local and surrounding state rural water associations for immediate assistance in restoring drinking water and sanitation service.  This is also the case for security and emergency  response training.  They emphasized rural water’s interest in initiating a partnership to advance cybersecurity, chemical security, mutual aide agreements, recovery plans, emergency power assistance plans, inherently safer technology assessments, etc. in small and rural communities.  By collaborating with the rural water associations, and utilizing the existing network that water supplies rely on for security initiatives and education, the federal government could rapidly assess all of the water supplies’ efficacy in protecting their water infrastructure and provide assistance to any inadequately protected water systems.  This could result in the adoption/completion of documented security plans that could be verified and open to review as appropriate.

Louisiana Rural Water Pat Credeur's Prose on Tropical Storm Karen – Karen faded away quietly in the Gulf. After days of heading toward the Gulf Coast, Karen dissipated Sunday Oct. 6th, as storm preparation in Louisiana was called off.  As tides began to recede on the La. Gulf Coast, crews worked to pick up sandbags as life returns to normal.  Winds and waves uncovered tar balls on the beaches of Grand Isle, La.  Crews were headed out Sunday to check on them.  Mayor David Camardell said, he was sure it was from the BP oil spill of 2010.  LRWA staff and La. Warn has been deactivated. Thank God!!!”

EPA to Rewrite the Lead and Copper Rule and all the issues to be addressed in a new rule are illustrated in the current lead problem in Chicago (Chicago Tribune).

Comments on Reforming the EPA Lead and Copper Rule Submitted this Week the National Drinking Water Advisory Council meeting in DC (comments).

Ban Chlorine Gas the Center for Effective Government released the location of all facilities that store large amounts of chlorine gas to warn the public of the danger of chlorine gas.  NRWA has published comments and policy on this topic to assist small and rural communities.

NRWA Regulatory Committee Taking Action to Have Chlorine Gas Locations Removed from Internet the committee is proposing urging the appropriate federal agencies to use all available federal authorities to have this information immediately removed from the internet.  The benefit of disclosure of this information does not outweigh the potential risk to security that this presents.  Also adding that, these facilities are locally-governed community drinking water and wastewater supplies that rely on chlorine gas to ensure public health and environmental protection. These communities secure their chlorine supplies and comply with all federal, state, and local protection measures to ensure the safety of their water treatment chemicals.

Protecting the Public Health, Add More Chlorine – rare amoeba Naegleria fowleri found in another Louisiana water supply (more).  State directs water systems to increase chlorine residual.  

The Public Wants to Eliminate Cl Gas majority of Americans would support government policies to reduce the threat of accidents at chemical facilities, including the use of safer chemicals and processes, according the coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, 55 percent of those polled favored policies designed to limit the release of poisonous gases or explosions, compared with 7 percent who opposed. An additional 37 percent were undecided.  Former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who proposed stricter safety measures in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks is supporting the effort (more).

Saltwater Bacteria In Florida Infects 31 Statewide With 10 Fatalities vibrio vulnificus (more).

Top 7 USC Section 1926(b) Attorneys Speak to Rural Water – in Louisville at the annual conference.  The session was the most comprehensive and educational exegesis on 1926(b) to date (agenda).

FL and KS Rural Water Take Advantage of CCR E-delivery Changes – both states were fundamental in achieving the e-delivery policy and presented the latest innovation on their states (FL RWA / KS RWA).

Hexavalent Chromium in California  the state has found that 311 water systems would need to install treatment and that the annualized statewide cost of the proposed MCL would be $157 million.  AWWA supported analyses suggests that it is more likely that more than 1,350 systems will face a decision to modify their treatment or change their source of supply, and that the annualized statewide cost of the MCL could exceed $616 million.

October 4, 2013

State Rural Water Associations Emergency Response Reports to Tropical Storm Karen (reports).

Public Confidence  the EPA reports it will furlough about 94 percent of its roughly 16,000-member workforce during the shutdown (more).  EPA contingency plan for shutdown (EPA).

NRWA Reassures the Public  drinking water safe during shutdown, thanks to local commitment and responsibility (more).

Power of An Association Documentary Endorsed (Youtube)  by organizing together, we can be heard!  Documentary highlights the benefits to small and rural communities the rural water movement.  NRWA Regulatory Committee Chairman directs documentary be distributed to state associations and provides screening for NRWA Board of Directors on September 30.  The version of the documentary modified for showing on large movie screens is available on Google.  Movie trades report that Elmer Ronnebaum and Steve Levy are not aware they are featured in video.

Leadership Recognized  NRWA President Doug Anderton’s (GRWA) statements recognizing Rob Johnson and John Montgomery provided in Louisville on October 2, 2013.

MN Rural Water’s Executive Director Request to Testify Before U.S. Senate  last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee requested testimony from Ruth Hubbard on October 8, 2013 regarding the need of USDA rural water infrastructure funding.  Unfortunately, the hearing has been postponed due to the current government shutdown.

ASDWA at NRWA Conference  Jim Taft, Executive Director for the association of state primacy agencies was a keynote speaker at the annual conference on Wednesday in Louisville.  Mr. Taft provided a comprehensive review of the critical state agencies’ issues and directed rural water participants to ASDWA’s continually updated reports on the key topics (ASDWA reports).

NRWA Emergency Response Committee’s Cybersecurity Initiative  on September 28, 2013, the committee endorsed a new initiative to develop a model cybersecurity plan for small and rural communities.  The plan will be the first of its kind.  Committee members indicated the plan will be scalable to be appropriate for various sized systems and able to be modified as innovation occurs in the future.  This type of approach was recently endorsed by the White House in the President’s Cybersecurity Executive Order (more).

State Water Quality Standards (WQS) Plans’ Disparate Stringency – the federal law (Clean Water Act) intended to provide a national, uniform protection of U.S. waters is resulting in state adoption WQS plans of varying degrees of stringency.  Iowa and Kansas report an acceptable plan, while Montana and Wisconsin report overly stringent plans.  The implication: if the Iowa/Kansas plans are acceptable, according to the CWA, then Montana/Wisconsin plans are de facto unnecessarily stringent.

KY’s Compliance Check Pays for Itself - in a recent interview with KRWA, the association’s director explained how a system’s investment in the information system pays for itself after helping to avoid just one violation (KY RWA’s Compliance Check).

MD/PA Lab Loses Accreditation for Errors Found – Microbac Laboratories to lose state accreditation and pay $60,000 fine after inspection uncovered 50 violations (more).

Sean Penn’s New Film “Human Experiment” Explores Potential Dangers of Toxic Chemicals in Household Products (more).

Contaminated Well Water in Colorado –  Boulder County water tests revealed that nearly 70 percent of the wells tested positive for coliform and E. coli (more).

Rep. Shuster Uses Social Media in Innovative Pitch for Water Infrastructure Bill (video).

September 29, 2013

The Power of an Association Documentary (Youtube)  by organizing together, we can be heard!  Documentary highlights the benefits to small and rural communities the rural water movement.

NRWA Emergency Response Committee to Develop Model Cybersecurity Plan – appropriate for small and rural communities - and adaptable to future modifications.  The initiative was adopted during the Committee's deliberations on Sept 28th.  

NRWA Regulatory Committee Adopts Motion to Press for Grandfathering/Exemptions for Emergency Generators from Air Regulations – application of regulations has been resulting in fines for water districts exercising their emergency generators - and acting as a disincentive for participating in emergency demand programs (more).

Dos Palos (CA) to Replacing Drinking Water System – problems with high levels of algae, county was issued a boil water advisory as replacing the system could take up to 2 weeks (more).

 

SWCS Webinar Tomorrow on Watershed Nitrogen Reduction Tool – (register), how to evaluate expected nitrogen reductions to rivers when different combinations of cropland BMPs.

EPA's Enforcement Office Concludes Their New Enforcement Program Improved Drinking Water Compliance (more).

Delay in E. Coli Notification in Kent County (RI) – criticism of emergency notice for weekend E. coli detection (more).  E. coli detected in water storage tanks (more).

Lawsuit Proposed to Force EPA Nutrient Program in 31 Watershed States (WSJ.com)

CDC Waterborne Disease Report – 17 states reported 33 outbreaks of disease related to drinking water resulting in 1,040 illnesses for the years 2009-2010 (CDC).  Legionella accounted for 58 percent of outbreaks and 7 percent of illnesses and Campylobacter for 12 percent of outbreaks and 78 percent of illnesses.  The large proportion of illnesses observed in outbreaks involving distribution system deficiencies emphasizes the importance of protecting, maintaining and improving the public drinking water infrastructure system, said CDC.

Body Parts Found in Detroit's Sewer System (more).

EPA Video Highlights WARNs in Action - networks of utilities helping utilities during an emergency (Youtube).

Farmers Arrested for Contaminating Cantaloupes with Listeria from Dirty Water in Processing Area (more).

September 19, 2013

The Power of an Association – NRWA's Regulatory Committee Chairman (John O’Connell-NY) has made it a priority to monetize the benefit of rural water's policy advocacy for the membership.  The Regulatory Committee will be meeting in Louisville next week (full agenda) and will be reviewing the monetized benefit figures for the following policy agenda items: Consumer Confidence Reports E-delivery Policy – $126,000,000 (annually), the Revised Total Coliform Rule – $25,678,187 (annually), retention of Section 1926(b) Protection – $11,550,871,000 (USDA debt), and ensuring a federal non-regulatory approach for cybersecurity – $146,629,000.

TMDLs Not Working in Rural Communities – in response to last week's feature on impact of TMDLs on the Village of Marcellus, NY Rural Water Association Board Member comments that, "It is the destruction of rural America. We used to stand up for our communities, big or small. The original clean water funding was a sample of that.  What has been done to this small community is a tragedy... This little village is asking for help. It is not fighting the TMDL.  Environmentally speaking, if our government wants the phosphorous removed from the wastewater plants (that really contribute less than 10% of the total loading to our rivers and streams) so be it.  They must wisely believe this will drastically improve the environment. It is the equality of funding that is the issue...  I am asking again to keep up the fight for what I believe is the very thing that made this nation great.  Let us not lose sight of the rural villages and towns" (full comments).

House Senate Showdown on the Continuing Resolution – and possible government shutdown (NYTimes),

Massachusetts SRF Not Friendly to Small Communities  reported from the field: none of Massachusetts' FY2012 SRF $119,000,000 commitments are for small systems except for the small town of Barre which is receiving just $63,800 of this money for well evaluation costs (report).

Naegleria Fowleri Found in Louisiana Drinking Water System (AP News).

Senator Mike Lee Takes Time Out from Leading National Budget Issues to Attend Utah Rural Water Conference (more).

Researchers Propose Cr6 Risk Level Weaker Than EPA Water Limit (new research) – EPA counters with white paper and workshop.  Competing studies could impact effort to lower drinking standard for Cr6.  Environmentalists have argued that a drinking water standard for total chromium is inadequate because trivalent chromium, an essential nutrient that is also present in total chromium, masks the toxicity of Cr6.  California has recently proposed a first-time MCL for Cr6 of 10 ppb, prompting concern from many environmentalists who believe the proposed limit is not adequately protective.  The new research concludes that the typical concentrations of Cr6 in drinking water supply are not expected to increase the risk of intestinal cancer, and the current federal MCL of 100 [ppb] is protective against increased intestinal cancer risk.

Alleged Illegal Fuel Dump into Wastewater System Results in Treatment Failure in Crestwood, KY (more).

Untreated Surface Water Sent to Homes in Carbondale, KS (more).

Security Concerns After Break-in at Helena Water Treatment Plant (more).

EPA’s Proposed Rule to Clarify Federal Review of Water Quality Standards (EPA) – could limit Florida type NNC suits.  Iowa reports that they are in the process of implementing (with EPA approval) nutrient standards closely following the Kansas model.  The proposed limits 10 mg/L total nitrogen and 1 mg/L phosphorus.  Bill Kramer with PA RWA warns of the future of federal nutrient reduction programs, If the Chesapeake Bay is a guide, 10 mg/L total nitrogen and 1 mg/L total phosphorus won't be the end game...  The reality is that the Bay program is a model for the rest of the country.  All of the same concerns, costs, will hurt small systems…  that is the law and unless Congress changes the law, it has to continue.”

EPA Sends New Proposed Rule Clarifying the Scope of the CWA on Regulating on Waters of the U.S. to OMB and SAB Releases Draft Report on Streams and Wetlands – This week, EPA's Science Advisory Board released for public comment a draft scientific report, "Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence." This draft report synthesizes more than 1,000 peer-reviewed pieces of scientific literature about how smaller, isolated water bodies are connected to larger ones and represents the state-of-the-science on the connectivity and isolation of waters in the U.S.  The final version of this report will serve as a basis for a joint EPA and Army Corps of Engineers rulemaking aimed at clarifying the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.  A draft of this rule was sent today to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.  The proposed joint rule will provide greater consistency, certainty, and predictability nationwide by providing clarity for determining where the Clean Water Act applies and where it does not.

E. Coli in the Aftermath of Colorado Flooding – Lyon (CO) , E. coli has been found in the town's drinking water and it could be two to six months before the town is livable for most.  Millions of gallons of sewage have been released around the state because of septic systems and sewer lines torn out by flood waters and flooded waste treatment plants.

Scientists Use 'Wired Microbes' to Generate Electricity from Sewage (more).

Floodwaters in NM Contaminate Thousands of wells (more).

Naegleria Fowleri Related Information for Drinking Water Systems – from the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals (DHH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Department of Health, Western Australia (more).

September 15, 2013

TMDL Program Not Working in Small and Rural Communities – see Marcellus New York and 50 other NY communities (letter to Congress).

NRWA Annual Conference Features Premier §1926(b) Expert Panel – next month in Louisville.  Bear Creek, Mississippi Lead Attorney Jim Herring and Circuit Court veterans Steve Harris & Louis Rosenberg.

 

First Lady Promotes Water (YouTube).  The Atlantic Magazine on why you should drink more water (Atlantic).

 

Congress Confronting End of Fiscal Year Challenges – House of Representatives delays vote on Continuing Resolution.  Congressional leaders are still trying to find the path forward.  Republicans still looking for ways to tie the CR with defunding Obamacare.  Democrats want the CR to include offsets or eliminations of the sequester.  Many Republicans concerned about defense cuts would also like to see the sequester turned off.

 

House Committee Releases Water Bill Without WIFIA Provision (more).  Perhaps in response to state agencies’ concerns about WIFIA, and because the current SRF is a superior method of funding water projects versus the new proposal (letter).  Some state associations are in contact with their state agencies to assist.  How does WIFIA comport with NRWA funding principles – see comments. 

Baker City, OR Crypto – hundreds of residents were sickened by a waterborne parasite says a treatment plant to guard against another outbreak could be online in a year.  Baker City officials still haven't pinpointed the source of the cryptosporidium, which gets into the water from animal feces.  Recently, suspicion has focused on cattle near the city's surface water supplies.  The city has nearly 10,000 people. Health experts say as many as a tenth got sick. The parasite causes severe diarrhea.  City Manager hopes to have a proposal for the City Council later this month to move forward on a plant to treat the water with ultraviolet light (more).

 

NRWA Considering Opportunities on How to Allow Communities Use Inventories of Lead Brass Fixtures – that are to be prohibited after January, 2104 under the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.  Communities may have thousands of dollars in already purchase inventory (more).  If you feel this type of relief is needed, please let us know.         

New Air Emissions Rules to Complicate Use of Emergency Generators in Emergency Demand Response Programs (more from MD rural water).

 

EPA Submits Potential New Contaminants to OMB – on August 31, as part of the third Contaminant Candidate List.  Candidates of concern include nitrosamines; chlorate; molybdenum; and MTBE.

 

Roanoke, AL Sinking Storage Tanks – settling of the soil under the two newly-constructed wastewater treatment tanks has led to a plan to ensure the tanks are all right before putting them into operation (more).

City of Parker’s (FL) Groundwater Contaminated by Fuel Leak from LUST – estimated repair costs would be in the millions (more). 

Attackers Are Actively Targeting Internet-connected ICSs, Like Water Pumps – in one case, an attacker tried to change the water temperature in the pump to 130 degrees Fahrenheit and in two other cases, the attackers issued commands to shut down the water pump (more).

 

Columbus (Ohio) Warning Not to Drink Water – due to abnormally high levels of a blue-green algae (more). 

EPA New Toolkit Provides Resources for Numeric Nutrient Criteria (EPA).

Webcast on September 17 on Incorporating Wetlands into Watershed Planning (EPA).

New Poll of Rural Voters Reveals a Great Support for Leaders Who Fight to Protect Small-town and Rural Life (more). 

EPA’s New NPDES Electronic Reporting – EPA’s recent webinar and PPTs (EPA).

September 1 2013

House of Reps. to Vote on Continuing Resolution until Dec. 15 as Soon as This Week (WashPost).

 

The Power of An Association – allows for the acknowledgement of people taking care of the public like Harvey Conerly (more).

 

EPA Looking to Initiate FACA Committee to Craft New Lead and Copper Rule – EPA’s drinking water advisory council meets next month in Washington. One of the major agenda items at that meeting will likely be a new proposal to initiate a federal advisory panel to assist EPA with developing a new Lead and Copper Rule (LCR).  NRWA typically is represented on these EPA panels for developing new rules, and we hope to be included in any LCR panel. Some of the controversial issues that will be confronted by the panel include: requiring water systems to replace service lines owned by homeowners, changing the monitoring scheme which may result in more communities violating the 90th percent standard, requirements to provide homeowners with filters or point of use treatment, how water systems finance homeowners’ service line replacement, etc.  Please forward any comments you may have on these issues (NRWA).

 

EPA Water Quality Plan Seeks To Apply Lessons From Florida Nutrient Legal Battle – released on Sept. 4th and open for comment, EPA proposed rule would clarify when EPA triggers a Clean Water Act (CWA) provision that requires the agency to promulgate new standards when the administrator "determines" that a state's existing rules do not meet CWA standards.  The new policy could make it more burdensome for environmentalists to successfully sue states and force implementation of numeric nutrient criteria – like in Florida.

 

Lack of Groundwater Helps Start War in Syria (more).

 

Dead Dog in Reservoir Helps Drive Venezuelans to Bottled Water (more).

China Scoops out 220k Pounds of Dead Fish from Polluted River (more).

 

EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Study Webinar, Sept 21 (more).

 

TX Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority Shut Down by Drought – the plant opened last year at a cost of $140 million (more).

 

Cotuit Mass Finds E. Coli – water manager says, We’re chlorinating and the problem should disappear” (more).

Federal Court Upholds Alameda County Ordinance Requiring Drug Companies to have Take-Back Programs – potentially affecting programs to reduce water contamination from pharmaceuticals (more).

 

August 31, 2013

You Are Invited to EPA Webinar on the New Electronic NPDES Reporting Rule – on Wed. (Sept 4, 2013) EPA in partnership with NRWA, WEF, and NACWA be conducting the webinar covering EPA's proposed electronic reporting rule affecting processes for thousands of municipalities.  The webinar will start at 2:00pm EDT on Sept. 4th for two hours (register: https://epa.connectsolutions.com/r15tuppl493/ or conference call: 866-918-0772 & code: 2509409317#)

 

Wastewater Trading for NPDES/TMDL Compliance – last week a rural water member on the east coast informed us a mandated nutrient trading scheme contained in their new NPDES permit.  The permit includes requirements for the city to obtain measurable non-point source nutrient remediation projects in their watershed.  The types of projects are named in their permit and mainly relate to local agriculture practices.  The projects are to be quantified by a local conservation district at a 2:1 ratio.  As expected, the city could save up %75 on NPDES compliance cost associated with their watershed TMDL and reduce nutrient loading in their watershed more than double the conventional treatment compliance option.  Why is this trading option not being utilized in hundreds of other communities facing extreme burden in TMDL compliance costs; where the trading option would be far less costly and provide greater environmental protection (Mora NM, Marcellus NY, Fairfield OH, the entire Chesapeake Watershed in NY, Montana, Colorado, Illinois, Rhode Island, etc.)?

 

Forbes Says Rural Areas Face Challenges for Water – higher costs and harder to implement new clean technologies resulting from great distances between customers and an irregular patchwork of reliable resources.  Of particular concern is the “climate gap”, which refers to the lower economic and physical adaptability of rural communities (Forbes).

 

If Kansas Farmers Keep Pumping From the High Plains Aquifer, Water Levels will Fall in Just 10 Years – after that, even the latest technology won't save the corn fields. Irrigated fields will start to disappear, followed by cattle feedlots. The long expansion of agricultural production in western Kansas will end (NPR).

 

Grand Rapids Michigan Grade School with Well Tests Positive for E. Coli (more).

 

NYTimes: Chlorine Disinfection Has Its Limits –  "chlorine-based disinfectants destroy harmful cellular organisms that cause illness – eliminating infectious diseases like typhoid, cholera and dysentery – but to call the process purification is a misnomer. The researchers estimate that between 10 and 100 million free-floating, or planktonic, organisms survive in every quart of tap water.  Other microorganisms in drinking water – methylobacteria, sphingomonads, mycobacteria – survive chlorine-based treatment. And many scientists fear that the use of chlorine can result in the growth of resistant and sometimes harmful microorganisms, including Legionella, the cause of Legionnaires’ disease and Pontiac fever, and the nontuberculous mycobacteria, which can infect the lungs, skin and other organs" (NYTimes).

 

Worms in the Water Supply in Oklahoma - story goes viral (Google).

 

Shanghai Liquid Ammonia Leak Kills 15 (more).

 

Bringing Clean Water to Rural Arkansas –U.S. Senator Pryor at ribbon cutting says, "This is an example where 20 thousand Arkansans get water - fresh clean drinking water, because of government spending."   The project cost fifty-six million dollars (TV news).

 

South Carolina, PCBs Found in Wastewater Systems – PCBs detected at water treatment plants in Greenville, Spartanburg, and Lyman (more).

 

Sulfuric Acid Spilled in PA River – 5,000 gallons of a sulfuric acid solution spilled from an industrial facility into the Shenango River (more).

 

CUPPS Train-the-Trainer Webinars (register).

August 25, 2013

Water Emergency, Rural Water Responds 24-7 - Brady, MT water officials and residents are still puzzled as to what caused brown sludge to make its way into the system last week, triggering a public health emergency declaration by Pondera County officials.  John Weikel of Montana Rural Water Systems said, "What they think is that the intake collapsed, and so therefore any of the sludge that is in the bottom of the pond is just being collected into the system" (more).  In all states, rural water association networks have been the main source of assistance in emergency response in small and rural communities.  For example, rural water technicians were the led assistance in Greensburg, Kansas in restoring the drinking water and sanitary sewer service to that tornado stricken small community (providing water to the temporary hospital, housing units, and the community in time).  This was also the case in the 2011 flooding in Vermont, super storm Sandy in 2013, Joplin Missouri in 2011, the 2012 tornadoes in the south and in the response to the hurricanes in the Gulf Coast in 2008, where the hundreds of small and rural communities replied on assistance from the local and surrounding state rural water associations for immediate assistance in restoring drinking water and sanitation service.

Private Water Hubris - Freedom of Information Act disclosure finds corporate water calling current tax rules that require repayment of federal subsides when they are no longer needed a "penalty" (disclosed documents).  Private water says more taxpayer subsidies are good for small communities, "Small municipal water systems that don't have any money, they don't have funding, so you go and try to help them and one of the ways you can do that, is you agree to bring new investments, we'll bring efficiencies, technologies, etc. But the current defeasance requirements increase the debt for the utility, which will be reflected in consumer rates."  Flashback, in May 2003 – on CNBC, Nick Debenedictis Philadelphia Suburban Water CEO was asked how his company will make "profit" in the water business.  The CEO had only one response, to “consolidate” the over 50K water systems in the country.

Kentucky Rural Water's Compliance Check Program - an automated assistance platform offered to Kentucky’s water and wastewater utilities to help them deal effectively and proactively with the ever-increasing regulatory burden - and maintain full compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and other state and federal requirements (KRWA).  The future of federal regulation... most of the current debates about expanding federal regulation on small community water systems centers on an "information gap."  The argument goes; because the federal government cannot document the level of protection for cybersecurity, chemical security, security, emergency planning, etc., there is a need for another federal uniform regulation to be able to measure and ensure protection has occurred.  The problem with this argument is that just because the federal government has no measurement of something, does not mean it has not occurred – or that the application of a uniform regulation will not result in unintended consequences.  The best counter to this argument would be quantifiable information that fills this perceived gap.  If such an information system, like Kentucky's Compliance Check, were expanded to measure cybersecurity, chemical security, security, emergency planning, disinfection byproducts abatement, financial planning, competent management, public disclosures, source water protection, inherently safe technology assessments, etc., local communities would be far more successful in limiting additional federal uniform regulations and retaining the polices most favored by the people who have to pay the bill.

EPA Internal Investigation Says More Regulation Needed for Drinking Water Security - the report released this week concludes, "internal controls for the water security program need to be strengthened to allow the Agency to measure the program’s performance and progress in drinking water systems’ preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery capabilities. EPA’s strategic planning in this area is hampered by its limited authority over water security, the voluntary nature of its water security activities, and concerns related to protecting information.  These impediments could be overcome by the water security program utilizing available data; using alternative methods to gather data; and seeking additional authority from Congress to collect, protect, and utilize information from water systems" (more).

State Agencies Stand Up for the SRF - and against the AWWA and private water plan to create a new funding program to redirect federal subsidies for large and corporate water systems.  According to supporters of this new program, current programs like the SRF direct too much funding to the most needy communities.  Last week, a number of state agencies sent a letter and analysis of their reasons why the current SRF is a superior method of funding water projects versus the new proposal (letter).  Some state associations are in contact with their state agencies to assist.  How does WIFIA comport with NRWA funding principles – see comments.

 

Short Term Continuing Resolution Expected in September - House Speaker Boehner said Thursday that he plans to avert a government shutdown at the end of September by passing a “short-term” budget bill.  Conservative groups on Friday said they were dismayed by Speaker Boehner’s strategy for funding the government, which does not emphasize defunding ObamaCare.

 

Daryl Hanna Protests at White House to Keep Drinking Water Safe – from fracking (Hollywood Reporter).

Chlorine Leak At Madison (FL) Water Plant – (8/21/13), a leak was discovered in a one-ton chlorine cylinder located at the City of Madison Waste Water Treatment Facility.  Two employees hospitalized.  One employee re-entered the building repeatedly to try to shut off the chlorine leak.  Plume of chlorine gas (TV News).

 

California Cr6 Standard at 10ppb – CA proposes first-in-the-nation drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium (Cr6).  The proposal is opposed by environmentalists for being too weak (LA Times).

Climate Change – “activists, politicians, journalists, corporate and government agency representatives and even scientists who should know better have made claims that are unsupportable based on evidence and research… disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have NOT increased (Climate Scientist Senate Hearing YouTube).  “An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace” (NYTimes).

 

Deerfield (IL) Fecal Colifrom Water Contamination Known for Two Days Before Boil Order (more).  Following rules supplanted the most important element to providing safe water: operator competency/local responsibility.  See news account, the delay in reporting the contamination to the consumers is blamed on following the rules.

 

E. Coli in Maxton, NC Tap Water – residents warned not to drink tap water (more).

 

Utah's Proposed Water Tax Captures National Debate – amounting to about 10 cents per month for water district customers and a $1 a month "toilet tax" to pay for drinking water and water-quality programs in the Department of Environmental Quality.  The U.S. EPA and state general funds have traditionally covered these programs.  “A big driver behind the fees is that Congress has begun to starve the EPA’s budget.”  Primacy agency says EPA reductions are main reason for seeking the new fee.  Primacy says about possible cuts to staff, " when you start unzipping the pillow, all the feathers start coming out"(more).

 

EPA’s New Water Quality Criteria for Ammonia – recommends a range of 0.99 milligrams of total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) per liter (TAN/L) at 30°Celsius to 4.4 mg TAN/L at 0°C at neutral pH.  EPA sets the chronic standard at 1.9 milligrams of ammonia nitrogen per liter (mg/L) at a neutral pH and 20° Celsius temperature.  This is a change from EPA's 1999 criteria, which set a range between 7.5 mg/L to 4.5 mg/L, depending on the temperature (EPA proposal).

 

August 18, 2013

Can Congress & White House Avoid Shutdown – Republicans split on strategy to defund Obamacare using threat of government shutdown (more).  House leadership presses for Continuing Resolution without controversial provisions (more).  Congress has until the end of September to avoid potential end of the fiscal year government shutdown.

 

Numeric Nutrient Criteria Non Sequitur – EPA's new policy on "Actions to Help States Address Barriers to Numeric Nutrient Criteria Implementation"(EPA policy).  EPA is supporting "variances" to their own program; however, EPA finds that states have "difficulty using variances as a tool to achieve incremental improvements."  Variances for federal environmental laws typically result in chaos because they envision a subordinate agency giving a variance to the rules adopted by the superior agency.  If the rules are not appropriate in the first place, why does the superior agency mandate them on the subordinate agency?  If the subordinate agency is not able to determine the initial rules, how can they determine something more complex like a variance to superior agency’s rules?  For example under the Safe Drinking Water Act:

 

“Congress established the small system variances as an answer to this problem; however, the current methodology has never triggered a [variance] finding that a regulation was unaffordable.” [EPA 2006]

 

Florida Sued Again Over NNC Rules – Two individuals (Alfred and Cindy Davis) claim EPA has failed to require Florida to adequately assess water quality data and antidegradation requirements (more).  FL RWA Gary Williams commented that they expected additional suits from the environmental community challenging the state’s adopted program.  He expects the state and FRWA to take more action and advocacy on limitations to the “sue and settle” authorities of the EPA.

EPA Helps Youth Learn Wastewater Treatment Skills at Mass. Water Treatment Plant (more).

New Mexico Drought Threatens 300 Rural Water Supplies (more).

Iowa Farm Runoff Compromising Drinking Water - As pesticides, nutrients and sediment from farms trickle down into midwestern waterways, water treatment plants spend millions to clean up the polluted drinking water (more).

Crypto Outbreak in Baker City, Oregon – several confirmed cases and many more illnesses.  System under boil order.  The cause of the contamination is under investigation but livestock and mountain goats grazing near portions of the town’s water surface water supplies are suspected (more).

Farm Fertilizer Runoff Worsening Gulf of Mexico’s Dead Zone (more).

Eight African-American Residents of Rochelle, GA File CWA Citizen Suit - claiming the city has discharged raw sewage onto their property for decades (Reuters).

 

EPA Releases Strategies for Supporting Efficient Water Use - related to water supply availability and variability, and energy efficiency.  EPA estimates nationally 3 to 4 percent of electricity consumption, equivalent to $4 billion, is used to provide drinking water and wastewater services each year (more).

 

E. Coli Source in Roosevelt Water Co-op, NM Unknown – detected in routine monitoring sample (more).  E. Coli Found in Deerfield, IL Water (more). Source of E. Coli in Jal Water (NM) Unknown (more on local TV news).  Coli found in drinking water in Town of Plattsburgh, NY (more).

 

EPA Rejects Petition to Change Source of Fluoride to Reduce Arsenic Expose – the EPA declined a petition to change the source of fluoride in U.S. drinking water.  Proponents of the petition claim fluorosilicic acid is often contaminated with arsenic (more).

 

August 11, 2013

White House Endorses NRWA Approach to Cybersecurity in Water Systems – which has proven to be the most successful method for implementing federal security initiatives in water systems (more).

 

Chinese Hacking Team Caught Taking Over Decoy Water Plant (more from MIT)

 

Hanson on Affordability – MD RWA National Director George Hanson has represented NRWA on a number for federal advisory panels including a recent analysis of the affordability of the current arsenic rule (more).  George provided comments last week on the affordability issue to further explain the recent NRWA staff list of EPA reform issues.

 

NPR Feature on Wells Running Dry in KS (NPR).

 

Non Sequitur of the Week – USA & EPA sue Westchester NY for non-compliance with SWTR (more).  Portland gets waivers from EPA for same rule (more).  Gotham gets potential change in rule to not be in violation of same rule (more).

 

Fat(berg) Blocks London’s Sewer System (more).

 

State Association Innovation – MO RWA announced their Solar Energy Partnership last week.  MO RWA says, “with the cost of electrical service rising, more and more MRWA members are looking at conservation measures to cut costs…  Significant savings on your electrical costs are possible through solar energy.”  MO RWA and their solar partner have begun to lease solar products to MRWA member systems to provide substantial savings on your power costs with no upfront costs (more).

 

President Issues New Executive Order to Enhance Safety of Chemical Facilities - in response to the deadly explosion in West, Texas.  The order instructs federal agencies to review safety rules and craft new strategies for plants storing hazardous materials (more).  The plan calls for a "unified federal approach" for identifying and responding to risks at facilities, including improving coordination with state, local and industry groups.  NRWA has been leading in advocating for chemical safety plans in water systems for the past decade (more).

 

RCAP Produces Videos for Small Water Systems – topics include customers, wastewater collection, on-site treatment, energy efficiency, preparing for disasters, etc. (videos).

 

Private Water Chutzpah - California Water Service Company serves "musty" smelling water.  Says it is safe to drink (more).  Last year, a private water company representative made the following comment regarding a water main break in DC, “Your current dilemma only supports the argument for a good, e.g., investor-owned, utility that has a replacement program in place for aging infrastructure.  It is this replacement program (and property and income taxes) that are really the only reason that the investor-owned utilities are unfavorably compared to the tax-payer support utilities, which so often neglect infrastructure replacement and the costs for doing so, when it comes to rates.  I will leave it to the tax-payer funded utilities to rebut these statements (I am certain that there are those that can, that they are in the minority, and I applaud them), but a ‘proof’ of my belief is your current situation.”  California Water Service Company is the largest investor-owned American water utility west of the Mississippi River and the third largest in the country.  The company says, "For us, it's all about customer service."  Food and Water Watch says, "investor owned utilities typically charge 33 percent more for water and 63 percent more for sewer service than local government utilities...  Typical annual household bills were much higher when service came from for-profit, private utilities.  Private ownership increased drinking water bills by 4 percent in Alaska to 75 percent in Delaware; and sewer bills by 7 percent in West Virginia to 154 percent in Texas...  The objectives of a profit-extracting water company can conflict with the public interest.  Because a water corporation has different goals than a city does, it will make its decisions using a different set of criteria, often one that emphasizes profitability. This can create conflict" (more).

 

EPA Children's Health Committee Pressing for EPA to Strengthen Levels of Concern for Pesticides in Drinking Water – saying the agency's current levels fail to incorporate the most recent risk assessment guidance and methods, and are inadequate to protect children and infants (more).

 

August 4, 2013

EPA’s New Role; Providing Relief - In our June 21, 2013 comments to the EPA on the interpretation of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (P.L 111-380), NRWA states, "We view this interpretation as a continuation of the Agency’s increased utilization of regulatory flexibility and technological innovation to allow for maximum economical compliance for small and rural communities – similar to the recent EPA policy for (1) e-delivery of consumer Confidence Reports and (2) self-assessments under the Revised Total Coliform Rule. We urge the Agency to continue this important effort..." (more).  The following memorandum to the NRWA Regulatory Committee identifies 11 additional actions the agency could pursue to further this effort for drinking water regulations, which would be welcome in small and rural communities (more).

 

Congress Takes a Break on Appropriations Bills and Prepares for Confrontation with White House in September – (Wed.) President Obama told Congressional Republicans that he will reject any fiscal deal that only spares the Pentagon from budget cuts/sequestration as he prepares for a budget battle as the fiscal year expires on Sept. 30.  Senate Republicans say they will not agree to extend the country’s borrowing authority unless President Obama signs off on a plan putting the federal budget on a path to balance over the next decade.  President Obama rejected that demand as well.

 

Senate EPA Appropriations Update – on Thursday, Senators Reed (RI) and Murkowski (AK) released their version of the EPA appropriations bill (the FY2014 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act).  The legislation includes $15 million for EPA water related technical assistance as follows: “Environmental Protection: National Priorities – The bill provides $15,000,000 for a competitive grant program to provide rural and urban communities with technical assistance to improve water quality and provide safe drinking water. Of the amount provided, $13,000,000 shall be for grants to qualified not-for-profit organizations that provide training and technical assistance on a national level or multi-state regional basis, and $2,000,000 shall be for grants to qualified not-for-profit organizations to provide technical assistance to private drinking water well owners. EPA shall award grants to not-for-profit organizations that provide at least a 10-percent match, including in-kind contributions. EPA shall give priority to those organizations that are supported by a majority of small community water systems or currently provide assistance to private well owners. The Agency is directed to allocate funds to grantees within 180 days of enactment of this act."  The Senate SRF levels have been added the appropriations chart.

 

The Power of An Association – this success is direct result of your grassroots advocacy, persuasive message, relationships and accomplishments of your past technical assistance work.

 

EPA Announces $12.7 Million for Technical Assistance Funding (EPA Announcement).

 

State Association Innovation: Mississippi Leads on Emergency Relief/Security – “MsRWA is known as the leader in emergency response when it comes to the water and wastewater systems in the state.  Seeing the need to have a network of volunteers and equipment ready to respond and being able to respond in an organized manner – about two years ago, MsRWA, started the Rural Water Emergency Assistance Corporation, (RWEAC) administered by MsRWA.  It is strictly a volunteer program and there is no cost to be a member.  Those who join will be put in a database and when there is a need they will be contacted and asked to help or loan equipment to those in need.  Just because you are a member of RWEAC does not obligate you to respond if you choose not too.  Also by joining you will be signing all the proper paperwork to protect all those involved.  To date there are approximately 75 members, with over 150 emergency responders volunteering to respond.  These systems are also listing any equipment that they may have to provide to these systems in need.  This equipment ranges from manpower, equipment such as generators, backhoes, pumps, dozers, cooking equipment, parts and supplies and the list goes on. Also some joining do not have any equipment to loan, but by having all of their data on their system's components, RWEAC will have all the information needed to know what that systems needs are if ever needed.  Also, Mississippi was the first state in the nation to adopt and go live with the Emergency Re-Entry program for all first responders called ERITN.  In ERITN, first responders are issued an ID badge for re-entry if needed, along with the badge, there is a placard signed by the Governor or State Emergency Director to re-enter a disaster zone.  The placards are issued immediately after a disaster happens.  MsRWA is in charge of ID badges and placards for all of the water and wastewater responders.  Being in the forefront of this program, MsRWA was put on the State Re-Entry board, which oversees the program.  This program is now in Louisiana, Michigan, parts of Texas and a couple more states.  They are in the process of making this a nationwide emergency re-entry program for emergency response.  MsRWA has been contacted about sitting on the National board.”

 

State Association Innovation: North Dakota Leads on Emergency Relief/Security Training (more).

 

State Association Innovation: Utah Leads on Emergency Credentialing (more).

 

Flushable Wipes Clog MD Wastewater System (more).

 

EPA Mini-Movie on Nutrient Pollution (YouTube) – threat to drinking water.

 

President Clinton Out to Save Rural Children by Better Water (more).

 

Drinking from Water Bottles Could Cause Premature Wrinkles (more).

 

New Easy-to-Carry Water Purifier Gives Marines and First-Responders Access to Clean Water Wherever (more).

 

USEPA Water Utility Managers Training Video – features Rural Water leaders: Steve Fletcher (IL), John O’Connell (NY), Wilmer Melton (NC), Paul Brayton (FL), etc. (video).

 

DHS Request from Maryland Rural Water Association – proposed new emphasis for federal security of water supplies (more).

 

EPA Schedules “State of The Science Workshop” For Chrom-6 – to inform the EPA Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) assessment of hexavalent chromium on Sept. 19 and 25.  Each session will feature a panel of experts representing scientific areas related to the reduction and absorption of ingested hexavalent chromium.  Workshops are open to the public (registration).

 

Section 1926(b) Agreement in North Dakota – allows economic development to benefit the entire region to progress (more).

 

EPA’s New NPDES Electronic Report Rule Update – on July 30, 2013 the proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Electronic Reporting Rule was published in the Federal Register.  EPA is requesting comment on the proposed rule and solicits comments and data to inform the final rule. This rule proposes to replace several paper-based Clean Water Act (CWA) NPDES permitting and compliance monitoring reporting requirements with electronic reporting.  If you would like to participate on an EPA webinar on the rule on behalf of NRWA in early September, please contact us (rule Factsheet & FR Notice).

 

July 27, 2013

House Slashes SRF Funding - The House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee marked-up their initial FY2014 appropriations bill on Tuesday.  The bill includes all funding for NRWA EPA technical assistance initiatives and state revolving funds.  The House Appropriations Committee is dealing with a lower overall budget level than last year and the Senate level.  The level for technical assistance stayed the same as FY2013 at $12.7 million for the competitively awarded technical assistance program.  The result of the House lower budget level was a severe decrease in the state revolving funds ($250 million for the CWSRF and $350 million for the DWSRF).  The House budget level may be adjusted later in the year as part of an overall budget agreement with the Senate and the White House.  This could cause the House funding levels to be increased, however, there is no certainty this will occur.  This House-Senate-White House budget controversy will play out for the rest of the summer and possibly the year.  The Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee has not yet produced their version of the bill.  This funding chart was recently presented to the NRWA Executive Committee and reflects the status and amounts of all priority funding levels.

 

House, Senate, & White House Prepare for Budget Impasse and Government Shutdown – as the end of the fiscal year approaches on September 31, 2013 – no consensus has evolved on how to enact a continuing resolution and deal with extending the debt limit.  Democrats want a higher budget level for appropriations and the White House is threatening vetoes for appropriations bills passed with the lower budget levels (more).

 

New Precedent for §1926(b) Protection in Mississippi – dealing with a new issue; the protection of the service area for “unpotable water.”  Adams County Water filed a lawsuit against Natchez Water Works claiming their plans to provide non-potable water beyond the city limits infringed on ACWA’s state-certified territory.  The settlement states that if a future need for sewer effluent (non potable water) arises in the future in Adams County Water’s certificated area, Natchez will sell it to ACWA at wholesale price.  ACWA will then provide it to the customer at a retail price.  USDA was an intervenor in the case (more).

 

State Primacy Agencies Don’t Like AWWA’s WIFIA Legislation – we continue to hear from state agencies concerned that enactment of WIFIA will be harmful to SRF programs and budgets – and not work as efficiently as the current state SRF programs.  The Senate passed their version of WIFIA legislation in May (more), and the House Committee with jurisdiction could consider legislation in the coming weeks.  How does WIFIA comport with NRWA funding principles – see comments.

Stomach Bug Linked to Produce Sickens 285 in 11 States (more).

Antibiotic-resistant Superbugs Found in Food and Drinking Water (more). 

Researchers to Show New Ways to Hack Water Plants (Reuters).

EPA Inspector General to Begin Audit of Pace of Spending for DWSRFs (more).

UN Adopts November 19 as "World Toilet Day" – 2.5 billion people lack proper sanitation and 1.1 billion are forced to defecate in the open (more).

 

Westerville Ohio Water Plant to Spend $11.2 Million to Comply with EPA DBPs Rule (more).

 

Machine Turns Sweat Into Drinking Water (more).

 

Dirty Looking Water is Safe to Drink Says Water Utility (more).

 

VT RWA Responds to NRWA Question on TMDLs/State Nutrient Plans – VT RWA’s Executive Director Shaun Fielder comments that in VT, “direct discharges are in the process of being asked by primacy/EPA to lower phosphorus and nitrogen discharges on two separate TMDLs.  Lake Champlain TMDL, EPA Region 1 has assumed primacy on this one, is anticipated in September 2013 (VT / NY border).  In addition Long Island Sound (LIS) TMDL anticipated in the next 30 days, approximately 25 VT facilities discharge to Connecticut River along NH border then the river flows south via Mass and into the sound.  A detail to consider, the science on the LIS water body indicates if all the Vermont direct discharges feeding to the Connecticut River were able to reduce total nitrogen loading to zero there would be NO measurable improvement in the LIS water quality.  This being noted the nitrogen standard is being moved lower very soon with costs to be determined.  Our VT wastewater systems, as with systems across the country, are all about protecting the environment but data we are seeing indicates investments in the hundreds of millions will at best only result in a 2-3% percent reduction in overall sourcing of phosphorus / nitrogen.  Many are of the opinion investments at this level for a very small benefit would not be a good return on investment.  A better strategy would be to focus efforts on those sources that account for the majority of loading, non-point source.”

 

July 21, 2013

House to Mark-up EPA Appropriations Bill Tuesday (notice) – NRWA presses for technical assistance and SRF funding (more).

 

NRWA and TMDL/NNC Reform – NRWA's regulatory committee has identified relief from state nutrient plans and total maximum daily loads plan as the top Clean Water Act agenda item for the association for 2013.  We are currently taking comments on what would be the most effective and feasible relief policy (legislation, agency negotiations, state legislative action, trading, the courts, etc.).  State nutrient plans are being developed with varying degrees of severity from state to state.  For example, in Montana, the state plan may grant variances for numeric nutrient standards based on affordability and discharge flow.  In Wisconsin, the state plan (which was opposed by Wisc. Rural Water) would cost over $4 billion in treatment plant renovations and result in undue economic hardship to communities and negligible improvement.  WI’s new phosphorus standard of .075 ppm represents less of a concentration than summer rainfall, which has 0.15 ppm phosphorus.  According WI RWA, the state legislature is active in modifying to the state plan to be more like the Montana plan.  Regarding TMDLs – we have been witnessing the proliferation of the “TMDL problem;” TMDLs that are resulting in dramatically tightened NDPES permits, at the very high cost, for questionable benefit, based on questionable models, without regard for competing non-point sources, and where trading solutions were not offered (Mora NM, Marcellus NY, Fairfield OH, Montana, Colorado, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, etc).  Solutions we are exploring include creating a safe harbor where controversial TMDLs can be reviewed, a process for challenging and changing TMDLs that have been completed, etc.  We would be interested in your comments.

 

New Idaho TMDL – proposed wastewater permits in Idaho will require cities to reduce the amount of phosphorus they discharge into the Spokane River by more than 90 percent over the next 10 years.  They would require millions of dollars of treatment plant overhauls (more).

 

EPA Reviews CCRs’ Impact with Help from NRWA – on July 29, EPA will conduct a discussions with stakeholders on the CCRs to identify which elements of the CCR are not fully understandable, discuss potential activities that could assist in developing more understandable CCRs, seek additional feedback on use of electronic CCRs, etc.  NRWA will be represented in the discussions by Doug Anderton (GA), Dale Pierson (UT), John Sasur (Mass), Glen Womack (LA), Junior Welch (OK), and Wilmer Melton (NC RWA).

 

USGS Study on Streams’ Health – a new study from the U.S. Geological Survey says that four in five of the nation's streams found in agricultural and urban areas are showing poor biological health.  The report, Health of U.S. Streams Reduced by Streamflow Modifications and Contaminants, provides a national assessment of stream health based on the condition of biological communities in relation to the degree of changes made to streams and the concentrations of nutrients and other pesticides that have made their way into the waters.

 

FDA Sets 10 ppb Arsenic Level for Apple Juice (more).

Source Water Protection – Virginia gas tanker overturns and spills thousands of gallons of fuel and entering waterways (more).

 

EPA Workshop on Emergency Water & Energy Issues – free workshop on the water and energy nexus in disasters on August 6 in Lorton, VA. Presentations from water utilities, electric utilities and federal agencies as well as a roundtable discussion (registration).

 

Smart Meter Holdouts Lose City Water – city officials shut off water to a pair of Baraboo, Wisc. homeowners who refused to have smart meters installed on their homes because they believe the meters are the government’s way of keeping tabs on people through radio frequencies (more).

EPA-ASDWA Fact Sheet for State Emergency Programs – for primacy agencies to be well positioned to support the needs of their water systems in times of crisis (more).  

 

Power of a State Association – Delaware Rural Water Association Executive Director Rick Duncan was appointed by the Governor to the Delaware Clean Water Advisory Council for their state revolving loan fund.

 

Senate Commerce Committee Cybersecurity Bill Update – a draft bill circulated by the committee last week would formalize portions of the President's cybersecurity executive order while avoiding controversial mandatory performance standards and expansive information-sharing and liability protections. The House passed a cybersecurity information-sharing bill, in the spring that earned a veto threat from the White House (more).

 

July 14, 2013

EPA's New NDPES Electronic Reporting Regulation – approved by the White House Office (OMB) on July 1, 2013, clearing the way for EPA to officially propose it sometime this month.  The final rule is expected in June 2014.  The rule will require information from NPDES permits be submitted electronically in order to ensure that the agency has easy access to timely and accurate facility-specific information (more).

 

Rural Water & Primacy Partnership in Utah – new fees on water systems for state program (more).

 

Senate Cybersecurity Legislation – the leaders of the Senate Commerce Committee vowed to hold a vote on a bill by the end of the month.  Lawmakers in both chambers and parties agree that Congress must act to protect vital computer networks from hackers, but they have deadlocked on the question of whether to impose new regulations.  The Committee's proposal would task the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) with developing voluntary cybersecurity standards and best practices for critical infrastructure (more).

 

City Council Approves Budget Increase to Attend NRWA Water Test Contest – Mt Pleasant, TN city council meeting, first agenda item – budget amendment for the new fiscal year will send four officials to represent the town in a statewide “Best Tasting Water Contest.”  In April, the Mt. Pleasant Water system was awarded best tasting water in the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts’ Region 7 contest.  City Manager discussed the amendment during a commission study session.  Also on the agenda, city officials sparred with the citizen-led group Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, or SOCM. The group members have complained about water quality and high utility fees in the city for several years (more).

 

New Study Confirms Link Between Farm-related Nitrate Contamination and Birth Defects – new study confirms a long-suspected link between crippling birth defects and the nitrate contamination that threatens drinking water.  The birth defects involved include spina bifida, cleft palate and missing limbs.  The study from Texas A&M was published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives, making the strongest case to date about nitrates and birth defects (more).

 

Lorain County Ohio Rural Water Board Dispute Continues – the bad blood is now impacting Rural Water employees and their families and leading to continuing bad publicity (more)

 

Philly's Water Supply Keeps the Water Safe – the water department's instruments have detected coliform bacteria, barium, chromium, cyanide, and the herbicide atrazine.  Toilets discharge trace of pharmaceuticals including caffeine, nicotine, and the painkiller acetaminophen (more).

 

Iowa Copes with Nitrate Surge in Drinking Water – rain is washing fertilizer off the farms and into rivers that provide drinking water to much of the state (more).

 

Wisconsin Public Water Supply Systems Violations Report – violations reduced by one-third for monitoring or reporting requirements for drinking water. Ninety-six percent, or 10,999 of 11,409 public water systems, met all health-based standards.  Rural mobile home parks, apartment buildings and condominium complexes are among the non-municipal systems DNR has focused on because such water suppliers have tended to have more monitoring and reporting violations. The department contracts with the Wisconsin Rural Water Association to provide technical help (more).

 

Wisconsin Wells Test Positive for Petroleum Compounds – tests not previously made public detected petroleum compounds in water from 23 additional private wells within a one-mile radius of a July 2012 gasoline pipeline spill.  The wells are in addition to a total of 42 wells contaminated with benzene or other petroleum compounds after the spill (more).

 

July 7, 2013

NRWA and the Senate Tax Bill – The Leadership of the Senate Finance Committee has begun a legislative push to simplify the tax code by asking all senators to identify what tax breaks, deductions and credits should be kept.  All Senators have until July 26 to produce their so-called pardon list (NYTimes).  NRWA will be pressing for retention of current tax-exemptions for municipal bonds and extending the similar tax-exemption for USDA guaranteed loans (more).  We expect the corporate water industry to press for tax-exempt status for private activity bonds, which the New York Times calls“a stealth subsidy for private enterprise” (NYTimes).

 

Feds Report and Warn of Cyberattacks Against Critical Infrastructure – for the first half of 2013 (more).

 

Ohio Rural Lorain County Rural Water’s Internecine Fight Over Removal of Board Member Continues (more).

 

The Half-finished Lewis and Clark Regional Water System is at a Standstill – after hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding dried up. And despite the wet year, nine communities still struggle to meet water demands in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota (more).

 

U.S. Rural Utilities Service Announces $917,221 for Non-profits to Lend to Household Water Well Systems (more).

 

EPA’s New Guide on Emerging Wastewater Treatment Technologies – lists new technologies, assess their merits and costs, and provide sources for further technological investigation. The document is intended to serve as a tool for wastewater facility owners/utilities, operators, planners, and consultants (more).

 

Aurora, CO Water at Risk from Theft of Backflow Preventers – by copper thieves (more).

Boil Order on Martha’s Vineyard Island – community doesn’t chlorinate water that is under of the influence of adjacent wetlands and experiencing coliform positives (more).  Mass. primacy agency gives reasons not to chlorinate.

 

Will the House Try and Pass a New Farm Bill Next Week – House conservatives are calling for splitting the Farm Bill into farm spending and food stamps before it is brought back to the floor.  Behind the scenes, the fight over the bill is pitting House Majority Leader Cantor (VA) against Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas (OK). While Cantor wants to divide the bill and cut more spending, Lucas wants to keep it intact with only modest changes (more).

 

Lightning Strikes Water Lines in Florida (more).

 

Rural Water Employee Charged With a Felony for Embezzlement – in Ohio.  A former employee of Pawnee County Rural Water Dist. No. 1 is alleged to have diverted $48,500 from the rural water district for her personal use using a method of direct deposit (more).

 

California is Assuring EPA It Has a Plan to Spend SRF Funding – quickly to more than 160 small communities through increased staffing and a new funding model aimed at financing upgrades more rapidly (more).

 

E. Coli Detection in Brighton, CO Results in Evacuation, Boil Order, and Cutting Off Water (more).

 

E. Coli in Lindon City, UT – “It appears at this time to be by city-wide” (more).

 

1926(b) Focus on Eudora, Kansas vs. Douglas Rural Water – in a long-running territorial controversy that has been appealed and remanded multiple times in the federal appeals court, a new ruling from the appellate court that will be contested again by the rural water district (10th Circuit).

 

June 29, 2013 

Rural Water In-Service in Colorado Springs – NRWA’s annual In-service conference was held last week, which brings together all the technical field staff of state associations.  After attending the presentations of a number of circuit riders, training staff, on-site technical assistance providers, and source water technicians – one can safely conclude that this assistance is the most important contribution to safe/clean water & wastewater, prevention of source water contamination, compliance, security and emergency response of all efforts that exist.

 

"We've Been Hauling our Drinking Water for 20 Years – ball started rolling three years ago with a visit to the Kansas Rural Water Association.  We met with Elmer Ronnebaum and Rita Clary.”  Without their help, we definitely wouldn't have this project.  The water main project is funded through the KAN STEP program, a program that involves 'sweat equity' from local residents to make improvements to facilities that might otherwise be unfeasible (more).

 

Fracking Pollutes – drinking water wells near natural gas fracking sites were six times more likely to be contaminated than others, finds a new study the National Academy of Sciences (USAToday).

 

White House Cybersecurity Plan – NIST has released their draft outline of the Preliminary Cybersecurity Framework called for by the President's Executive Order on reducing risks to the nation's critical infrastructure (NIST Draft Outline).  The outline defines the overall Framework and provides guidance on its usage.  NIST is accepting comments on the outline (more).

 

Xenia Rural Water in Iowa’s Return to Financial Stability (more).

 

Nutrients in MN Waters Come from Farmers – say state regulators in new report.  Increasing use of drainage tiling as a major reason.  More than 70 percent of the nitrates in surface water in intensively farmed southern Minnesota come from cropland (more).

 

EPA’s Compilation of Emergency Contact Information – for state, regional, and federal agencies so that water utilities know whom to call to get the support they need during an incident.  Provides mainline emergency phone numbers for each state’s emergency management agency, drinking water agency, and wastewater agency, in addition to a mainline and individual contact number for the state’s WARN program (more).

Community-Based Water Resiliency Tool Webinar – July 10, hosted by EPA, to show how the tool can assist drinking water and wastewater utilities, assess current preparedness levels, identify available resources to improve preparedness, and teach you to use the new Water Resiliency Action Plan (WRAP) Kit step-by-step process for holding a water emergency and resiliency workshop (more).

EPA Removes NPDES Permit Exemption from Pesticide Application Over Water – in Federal Register this week.  Action a result of federal court decision in 2012 (more).

 

Private Water Hubris – a private water company representative made the following comment regarding a water main break in DC, “Your current dilemma only supports the argument for a good, e.g., investor-owned, utility that has a replacement program in place for aging infrastructure.  It is this replacement program (and property and income taxes) that are really the only reason that the investor-owned utilities are unfavorably compared to the tax-payer support utilities, which so often neglect infrastructure replacement and the costs for doing so, when it comes to rates.  I will leave it to the tax-payer funded utilities to rebut these statements (I am certain that there are those that can, that they are in the minority, and I applaud them), but a ‘proof’ of my belief is your current situation.”

 

Pennsylvania American Water Issues Boil Order – says company spokesman on June 24 (more).

 

Missouri American Water Issues Boil Water Order – on June 24 (more).

 

New York Times Calls Private Water Industry’s Main Legislative Agenda “a Stealth Subsidy for Private Enterprise” (NYTimes).

 

Private Water Tells Congress That More Subsidizes Needed for Private Water Supplies (more).

 

Washington DC Ranks First in Exploding Water Pipes (WashPost).

 

Wisconsin Adds 150 New Water Bodies to Impaired List – for failing to meet new standards for phosphorus pollution from excessive amounts from fertilizer and animal and human waste (more).

 

Source Water Protection – Michigan City Department of Water Works reports an unidentified red-tinted slick containing metallic flakes in Lake Michigan (more).

 

Ogallala Stressed – decline of the Ogallala Aquifer has left farmers fearful for their future.  A harsh reality has taken hold across drought-stricken Texas where farmers account for more than half of the water used.  Texas is pumping out more than what is being recharged (NYTimes).  

 

Interest Rates on Municipal Bonds Climb – states and cities across the nation are seeing the days of easy money are coming to an end.  Interest rates have been inching up everywhere, sending America’s vast market for municipal bonds into its steepest decline since the dark days of the financial crisis in 2008 (NYTimes).

 

June 23, 2013

The Power of An Association - last week the House debated the Farm Bill.  There was no effort or amendments to make any modification to §1926(b). This success was a result of the Power of an Association – in this case, three associations: Central Iowa Rural Water Association (CIWA), Iowa Rural Water Association (IRWA), and the National Rural Water Association (NRWA).  The monetary benefit of retaining §1926(b) for all water systems is so significant it is almost incalculable.  In May, an Iowa Congressman filed an amendment to change §1926(b) (video).  In collaboration, all three associations engaged the Congressman in a discussion of the authorities and limitations of section §1926(b), and to find a way to advance the intent of the Congressman’s amendment to reconcile the local territorial disputes – without changing §1926(b).  Central Iowa Water and Iowa Rural Water Associations proposed a number of options to the Congressman and to their neighboring city that urged for the Congressman’s amendment.  IRWA & CIWA rose above the ad hominems to make sure the focus stayed on the substance/facts.  This situation in Iowa, which is similar to past cases in other states where some cities find 1926(b) limiting to their agenda and tell policymakers that 1926(b) provides authorities that it does not (Iowa example).  In this case, and the others, 1926(b) was not an impediment to a fair and reasonable resolution to the local territorial dispute.  Rural Water would not want to see efforts to change to the most essential federal policy for extending drinking water to rural populations based on a misunderstanding of local conditions and the current law’s application to those local considerations – potentially jeopardizing the entire mission to extend drinking water service to everyone (especially the neediest).  Most of the membership of NRWA is municipalities, and we would only support protection that works fairly for both the cities and the rural water supplies because that is in the best interest of advancing public health, future development and reducing the cost of water service for everyone.  This will not be the last attack on federal service area protection, and each successful defense of §1926(b), makes the principles underlying §1926(b) and the statute itself stronger. 

 

The Power of An Association Continues – in addition to the recent §1926(b) success, on Friday, NRWA announced support for EPA’s recent interpretation of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (P.L 111-380) which will allow for the most cost-effective and reasonable implementation of the new law in small and rural communities for maintenance of water meters (NRWA).  We view this interpretation as a continuation of the Agency’s increased utilization of regulatory flexibility and technological innovation to allow for maximum economical compliance for small and rural communities – similar to the recent EPA policy for (1) e-delivery of Consumer Confidence Reports and (2) self-assessments under the Revised Total Coliform Rule.  We urge the Agency to continue this important effort in the revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule.

Maryland Rural Water Association Warns of Lead Service Line Replacement Requirement – the replacement or partial replacement of lead service lines is being considered by the EPA in revisions the current Lead and Copper Rule.  Last week at the Maryland Rural Water Association board meeting, their board explained that many older small communities in Maryland have lead service lines and a new requirement to replace lead service lines would be very costly.

 

Appropriations Update - The Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee on Tuesday approved their fiscal year 2014 USDA spending bill (Senate and House funding levels).  The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a comprehensive funding level for FY2014 of $1.058 trillion to be shared across all Appropriations Subcommittees. This funding level creates a $91 billion disparity with the $967 billion for FY 14 funding level approved by the House Appropriations Committee.  The Administration has said that it would veto any FY2014 funding bill unless Congress agrees to undo the sequester.

 

Farm Bill Update – last week the House reject passage of the 2013 Farm Bill (the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act – HR 1947) by a vote of 234 to 195.  The bill had included all NRWA Farm Bill priorities.  The Senate overwhelmingly passed its version of the farm bill last week.  The current Farm Bill expires in September and could be extended by an act of Congress.  All rural water initiatives remain in effect under the current extension and will likely be included in any future extension of the current Farm Bill (passed in 2008).

 

EPA's Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP) – to determine the health risk of potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.  EPA is to screen and test chemicals for potential endocrine disrupting effects.  Data from screenings could support the evaluation of health effects in the SDWA regulation process.  The final list contains a number of SDWA regulated compounds and many more that are on the Contaminant Candidate List (Federal Register).

 

Algae Contamination Spurs Drinking Water Worries in Oregon – the City of Heppner was advised by the state to avoid using their reservoir after poisonous blue-green algae was discovered (more).

 

Water Treatment Plant Work Prompts Boil Order - for a meter replacement at the plant (more).

 

EPA Webcast About Harmful Algal Blooms and Nutrient Pollution – June 25 (more).

 

EPA Announces SRF Allotments – the distribution of Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) dollars to states for fiscal years 2014 through 2017. New York and Texas will see the biggest changes in shares for the drinking water state revolving loan funds compared to four years ago.  New York will receive proportionately less money for its fiscal 2014, at 4.8 percent of the total fund versus 6.6 percent for fiscal years 2010-2013. Texas will receive a larger proportion in fiscal 2014, at 7.2 percent compared to 6.3 percent in fiscal 2010.  California will continue to receive the greatest share of the allotment, at 9.4 percent, which is about the same as it received for fiscal 2010 (more).

 

June 16, 2013 —Special Michigan Edition—

 

Michigan Senator’s Farm Bill Passes Senate – On Monday, the U.S. Senate passed Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Stabenow's 2013 Farm Bill by a wide bipartisan margin, 66-27.  The legislation includes all NRWA Farm Bill priorities (RUS grants & loans, circuit riders, wastewater technicians, source water technicians, and section 1926(b) protection (more).  Thank you MI RWA!

 

Michigan’s Senior Senator Cosponsors Wicker/Heitkamp Legislation – on Tuesday, Senator Levin (MI) became a cosponsor on S. 864 – a bill to reauthorize EPA technical assistance and to direct EPA to prioritize the most beneficial technical assistance, introduced by Senators Wicker (MS), Heitkamp (ND), and twelve other Republican and Democratic Senators (more).  This was in response to an effort by Senators Wicker (MS), Vitter (LA), and Risch (ID) to have the legislation included with the Farm Bill (more).  Last week the Senate moved to eliminate consideration of any further amendments and vote on final passage of the Farm Bill.  The sponsors of the amendment were told that the Senate authorizing committee would consider the legislation as soon as possible.  The current authorization expired in 2003, which caused the elimination of funding in fiscal year 2011 and could jeopardize fiscal year 2014 funding.  The next step in passing S. 864 and H.R. 654 is to have as many cosponsors on the House and Senate bill as possible.  Thank you MI RWA!

 

A Michigan First – Davison City Clerk Andrea elected, the first woman president of Michigan Rural Water Association (news).  Thank you MI RWA!

 

Senate USDA Appropriations – Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Mikulski (MD) announced that the committee will meet next week to markup the Agriculture appropriations bills on June 18.

 

EPA Water Chief’s Comments at AWWA ACE Conference – this week in Denver, included mention of NRWA and thank you letters he has received from small communities regarding the new CCR e-deliver policy.  He also addressed the delayed Lead and Copper Rule modifications and the replacement of lead service lines.  His comments elicited comments from NRWA’s CEO, NRWA’s Total Coliform Rule representative, and NRWA’s Lead Science Advisor (more).  Additionally, he updated attendees on EPA’s current assessment of a potential new drinking water standard for hexavalent chromium. NRWA has recently elevated this issue on our agenda after hearing from CA Rural Water members saying, “California has a huge Cr6 issue, and lowering the MCL will have a costly impact on all customers of systems with Cr6 detections. As usual impacting small systems the most.”  The EPA water chief said that current state of the science on the ingestion of the amounts of hexavalent chromium found in drinking under the current MCL for total chromium remains that it is converted to harmless trivalent chromium by stomach acid.

 

Perchlorate Regulation Update - the EPA’s Science Advisory Board recently published their final report that recommends changes in how EPA approaches crafting MCLG perchlorate - to consider sensitive life stages and the use of physiologically-based pharmokinetic (PBPK) models.  EPA missed the original February 2013 deadline for the proposed rule and is planning a proposed rule by the end of the year (SAB Report).

 

OH Rural Water Board Meeting Controversy - motion to forgo pay for meeting to remove board member (more).

 

Raise Your Rates - The Pacific Institute’s new white papers examining water rate-setting.  The “New Normal” describes trends leading to increasing water prices and changes in water rate structures including flat rates, uniform volumetric rates, and block or tiered rates (more).

 

Broward County Detects E. coli - issues boil water order for hundreds of thousands.  Unclear if positive sample was conducted on raw or finished water (more).

 

June 9, 2013

Congress Begins FY2014 Appropriations – the House Agriculture Subcommittee passed its FY2014 bill this week including $447,997,000 for rural water grants and loans, and funding for circuit riders, wastewater technicians, and the source water initiative.  The White House has threatened to veto the initial appropriations bills, possibly projecting more brinkmanship over a federal government shutdown when the fiscal year ends in September.  Also complicating the process is the low budget allocation level for the EPA spending bill, causing many to speculate that the EPA bill may again be passed as another continuing resolution (like this year’s, FY2013).  This makes passage of the EPA technical assistance reauthorization legislation more critical.

 

Syrian Cyberhackers Publish Documents Obtained from Hacked Israeli Water System (more).

 

Farm Bill Up for Senate Vote Monday (more).

 

EPA Report Shows $384 Billion Needed for Drinking Water Infrastructure Through 2030 (more).

 

Summit(more).

 

Farm Bill 1926(b) Update – progress continues to be made in Iowa to resolve the issue between an Iowa city and a rural water district to overt the interest in federal 1926(b) legislation.  The two water supplies are scheduled to meet in the coming days to consider solutions.

 

New Mexico (Magdalena NM).

 

NRWA Asked if Small Water Systems Are Less Prepared for Climate Change (more).

 

ND Territorial Dispute Settled at Local Level – after seven-months, the water service dispute between the city of Jamestown and Stutsman Rural Water District comes to an end (more).

 

EPA SAB’s Final Report on Perchlorate (report) – recommends sensitive life stages for drinking water regulation: “Although adverse neurodevelopment effects of perchlorate in infants and children have not been reported in the literature, the risk of adverse effects can be reasonably inferred from perchlorate's mode of action and the known role of thyroid hormone on human brain development.”  EPA expects to propose a standard by December 2013.

Congressmen Urge Protection of Muni Bond Tax Exemption – House lawmakers are urging Congressional leaders to reject any proposal that would limit the value of the tax-exemption for municipal bonds (more).  President Obama’s FY2014 budget proposed capping the value of tax deductions and exemptions – including for municipal bond interest – to 28 percent of total income.

 

Congressional Research Service Report Provides Options for Water Financing - discussing six options including SRFs, creation of a federal water infrastructure fund, WIFIA, a National Infrastructure Bank, Private Bond Activity, and Build America Bonds (more).

 

FCC Action’s Impact on Utility SCADA systems – the order could lead to interference to communication devices that operate on an unlicensed basis in the 902-928 MHz band, which numerous water, power and gas utilities use on an unlicensed basis to operate a range of applications including automated meter reading and SCADA data transmission.

 

EPA’s Guide to Energy Efficiency in Water Facilities – water facilities accounting for 35 percent of typical U.S. municipal energy budgets.  EPA’s guide provides comprehensive information for local government staff and policy makers on designing and implementing energy management programs for water and wastewater facilities (more).

 

June 2, 2013

Congress Back to Work on Rural Water Priorities – the Senate returns to session this week to attempt to pass a Farm Bill.  The Senate leadership is trying to finalize an agreement on floor amendments to the $955 billion farm bill this week.  NRWA is pressing for inclusion of Senator Wicker’s amendment to the Farm Bill to reauthorize EPA technical assistance (more).

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