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Government Affairs Committee Update August 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for August 2020.

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Government Affairs Committee Update July 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for July 2020.

U.S. EPA Updates
In May, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reversed itself regarding Washington’s water quality standards, replacing water quality standards it adopted in 2016 with different standards. The new rules went into effect on June 12. Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) has challenged the reversal based on the process followed. A lawsuit has also been filed by 3rd parties against the EPA. In the meantime, WA DOE seeks preliminary comments on 5 individual variances related to PCBs in the Spokane River, driven by the 2016 water quality standards.

On May 18 the U.S. EPA issued for comment a TMDL for temperature for the Columbia and Snake Rivers spanning Washington and Oregon. The TMDL includes heat load allocations for NPDES permit holders directly discharging to these rivers (both OR and WA). Comments due July 21. Read the EPA document here. 

Oregon Drug Take-Back Program
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is proposing amendments to its administrative rules at OAR 340. DEQ is planning to adopt new rules to establish a drug take-back program. The Oregon legislature adopted HB 3273 (2019) establishing a drug take-back program in Oregon and requiring DEQ to adopt rules for that program. This program is a statewide product stewardship program for safely disposing of unused medications. DEQ expects to complete this rulemaking by the fall of 2020. Click here to learn more.

Nutrients
The Washington State DOE is holding the next General Permit for Nutrients on July 16. 

Mercury TMDL
EPA is reviewing public comments on EPA’s version of a Willamette Basin Mercury TMDL.

Oregon NPDES
Oregon DEQ has issued a 5-Year Issuance Plan for NPDES permits. 

LOCAL Infrastructure Act
A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate which would reinstate the advance refunding of municipal bonds. S. 4129, the Lifting Our Communities through Advanced Liquidity for Infrastructure Act, or LOCAL Infrastructure Act

Government Affairs Committee Update June 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for June 2020.

Navigable Water Protection Rule
In a Notice published in the Federal Register on April 21, EPA and the Department of the Army (Army) finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, (the “Waters of the US Rule”), which provides updated regulations on what waters fall under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. Several states and NGOs have challenged the new rule.

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Government Affairs Committee Update May 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for May 2020.

Idaho Biosolids and Stormwater Permits
Idaho is developing the guidance manual for the implementation of biosolids and municipal stormwater permitting, starting in July 2021. Find more information and how to participate, go here.

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Government Affairs Committee Update April 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for April 2020.

COVID-19

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Government Affairs Committee Update March 2020

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for March 2020.
  • The White House released the President's proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The proposed budget includes 27% cuts to EPA and similar cuts to the State Revolving Fund programs used to provide low-interest loans to water and sewer projects. Congress will likely discard this recommendation and draft an independent budget for EPA. EPA Budget - WEF Analysis
  • The Department of Ecology made the preliminary determination to develop a Nutrient General Permit for domestic wastewater discharges to Puget Sound. A call for nominations to the Advisory Committee closed on 2/24. This Advisory Committee includes approximately 15 people that represent dischargers, Tribes, environmental groups, state and federal agencies, agriculture, and business. The purpose of this group is to make recommendations to the Department of Ecology before the development of the preliminary permit draft. Ecology expects to have a formal draft of the permit out for public comment by the end of 2020 or first quarter 2021.
  • On February 6, 2020 the House passed the Promoting United Government Efforts to Save Our Sound (PUGET SOS) Act, H.R. 2247 sponsored by Congressmen Heck and Kilmer. Both Congressmen discussed their concern over the impacts from non-point sources into Puget Sound during the National Water Policy Fly-in and the importance of the Act.
  • WA House Bill 2565 requires specific “Do Not Flush” labeling requirements for nonflushable, nonwoven wipes, which includes the class of baby wipes, personal care wipes and household cleaning wipes. The labeling requirements include appropriately-sized, clear, and high contrast DNF symbols be placed on primary facing wipes packages. You can track the bill status here.
  • Oregon mercury TMDL for the Willamette River (based on 175g of fish consumed per day) was disapproved by EPA. EPA’s proposed TMDL prescribes decreases in discharge of ~85%. Variances are expected to be requested following rule finalization.
  • Michigan has adopted an effluent WQS for PFOS at 12 parts per trillion.

Government Affairs Committee Update Jan/Feb 2020

The Federal Government wants to modernize procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act—and the public comment period runs through March 10th. The 2020 Federal Budget passed both chambers of congress and has increased SRF funding and directives for exploring PFAs under CERCLA, read more here. Likewise, at the Supreme Court level, a case is being reviewed which will clarify regulations on point- and non-point source pollutants via groundwater to be finalized in June.

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Government Affairs Committee Update Dec 2019

Want to stay updated on regulatory changes in the PNW but don't have time to track all the different agencies? You don't have to! The PNCWA Government Affairs Committee stays on top of issues and gives monthly updates in the PNCWA digest. Not signed up for the digest? We've got you covered. Sign up here. Here's the update for December 2019.

  • E. Regional Office of DOE is working closely with Spokane River dischargers to reduce PCB loading to the Spokane River through requirements in their NPDES permits. All five WA dischargers into the Spokane River have requested discharger specific variances from the 7ppq PCB water quality standard. A variance is a temporary change to a water quality standard requiring Ecology to undergo a formal rulemaking effort. Ecology hopes to issue a draft response to variance requests in early 2020 and to finalize the rule by fall 2020. Find out more information here.
  • We need your help! Please take a minute to take the EPA's Nutrient Survey. The voices in the PNW need to be heard. Nutrient pollution is one of the largest environmental challenges in the country. This survey will help develop a baseline for secondary treatment plants across the nation – which will provide some idea of the costs associated with reducing nutrients on a national level. Surveys are still being accepted. You can fill out the survey here
  • PFAS continues to be a major discussion item, nationally. WEF has issued a new call-to-action requesting letters to our congressional delegations. You can find more information and WEFs form letter here
  • In September 2019, Oregon DEQ released its draft 2018/2020 Integrated Report and is soliciting comments through Jan. 6, 2019. The federal Clean Water Act requires Oregon to report on the quality of its surface waters every two years. Although not a written report, the Integrated Report is a reporting of the status of water quality in Oregon and a list of waters considered to be impaired. You can read the report here

Wastewater Project Funding Alternatives

Information compiled thanks to John Hendron and Carrie Finan.

There are several state and federal programs that provide financing to eligible entities for planning, designing, and constructing wastewater projects. Whether the goal is to build or repair collection systems or treatment facilities, these important resources can help aid in your project’s success.

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WEF Water Advocates Needs Your Voice

WE are the experts.

Let’s speak with a loud, united voice. Speak up. Share your knowledge. It is more important now than ever. Inform government decision-makers and the public about the importance of water.

Aging infrastructure, strict requirements, and continued economic pressures have put unprecedented stress on local governments and agencies that provide essential water services. Elected officials are being called upon to make tough choices that will impact water quality and the viability of our communities for generations to come.

We know there is a better path—a path that leads to public appreciation for the value of water, investment in our essential water infrastructure, and a better quality of life for our states and communities.

WEF’s Water Advocates Program is a simple and effective way for you to become more involved with engaging elected officials and the public on important water issues. The Water Advocates Program provides training and engagement to promote grassroots advocacy before elected officials and the public with the goal of creating a network of trained water advocates in every state. Continue.

Mr. Beacham Goes To Washington

Hopefully, you noticed the ode to classic films in the title of this blog post. It was a nod to the classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in which Jefferson Smith, played by the inimitable James Stewart, heads to the Senate floor to defend that which he holds dear. John Beacham, PNCWA Government Affairs Chair, led an equally inspired contingent of fellow Pacific Northwest water warriors to Washington D.C. for the 2019 National Water Week Fly-In in April. The twelve-person team attended EPA workshops and visited with several members of Congress from Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. PNCWA's influence in Washington has continued to grow since the first contingent traveled to the nation's capital in 2013. Our membership is recognized as leading subject matter experts and our 1,500 members are a resource for numerous Congressional requests for information on clean water issues. Below is a recap of the visit summarized by members of the contingent themselves. We hope you enjoy their story, learn from their journey, and consider joining the Government Affairs Committee. We'd love to have you in D.C. with us in 2020.

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Large PNCWA Contingent Heads to DC for National Water Policy Fly-In

2019 National Water Policy Fly-InPNCWA is represented well this year in Washington D.C. for the annual fly-in. Through a mix of funding, including PNCWA funding, eleven members are attending. This is by far our biggest year and we’d love to see an even bigger contingent next year.

The group will be presenting the PNCWA positions on TSCA/PCBs, Integrated Planning, and Climate Change Resiliency located hereAdditionally, they will be delivering a joint message from WEF, NACWA, AWWA, APWA, and other entities. They will hear from administrators from the EPA Office of Water on a variety of topics, including their intended focus areas for the upcoming year. Check out the PNCWA public LinkedIn page this week for any updates from our fly-in team. The members attending this year are listed below. Stay tuned for a recap in May!

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WIFIA Program Info Session Comes to Seattle Oct. 11

EPA’s WIFIA program invites you to join them in Seattle, Washington to learn more our low-cost, long-term loans for water infrastructure projects. The information session will provide prospective borrowers with a greater understanding of the WIFIA program requirements and pave the way for successful applications to the program. 

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April Photo of the Month: PNCWA GAC at Fly-in

PNCWA Government Affairs Committee members at the 2018 Fly-in

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EPA Announces New Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for WIFIA

Today, EPA announced the availability of approximately $5.5 billion in credit assistance for water infrastructure projects under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. This financing will help support approximately $11 billion in total infrastructure investment.

In the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), the WIFIA program solicits letters of interest from prospective borrowers seeking credit assistance from EPA. The NOFA outlines the process that prospective borrowers must follow to be considered for WIFIA credit assistance and establishes relative weights for the selection criteria. Priorities for Fiscal Year 2018 are (1) provide for clean and safe drinking water, including reducing exposure to lead in the nation’s drinking water systems and (2) repair, rehabilitate, and replace aging infrastructure and conveyance systems. Letters of interest from prospective borrowers seeking WIFIA loans will be accepted until 12:00 PM (noon) EDT on July 6, 2018.

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WIFIA Selects King County as One of 12 Projects to Apply for Federal Loan

Established in 2014, the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) is a federal loan and guarantee EPA program that assists with investing in water infrastructure through long-term, low-cost credit assistance for regional and national projects.

On December 10, 2016, President Obama signed the Further Continuing and Security Assistance Appropriations Act and Congress provided $17 million in budget authority for the WIFIA program. Earlier this year, WIFIA released its 2017 notice of funding availability. The EPA received nearly 50 letters of interest from public and private entities around the country. After a lengthy review process, WIFIA chose 12 prospective borrowers from around the country, which they announced today:

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WEF Wants You to Become a Water Advocate

As wastewater treatment professionals, we work every day to ensure our communities receive clean, safe water. Now there’s one more way to advocate for your community. WEF, the Water Environment Federation, has created a new program—Water Advocates—to empower its members to impact water policy on a national level.

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WaterWeek 2017 Part 2: PNCWA Members Meet with DC Representatives

On March 21, 2017, PNCWA Government Affairs committee members Bob Baumgartner, John Beacham, Mike Ollivant flew into Washington, D.C. for the annual WaterWeek Fly-In, where water representatives from all over the country gather to talk water infrastructure and funding. In “WaterWeek Part 1: PNCWA Members Report on National Policy,” we reported on national policy discussed.

Next, John, Bob, and Mike split up to meet with representatives from each of our states—Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.  Our message was threefold:

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WaterWeek 2017 Part 1: PNCWA Members Report on National Policy

On March 21, 2017, Bob Baumgartner, John Beacham, Mike Ollivant of the PNCWA Government Affairs committee flew into Washington, D.C. for the annual WaterWeek Fly-In, where water representatives from all over the country gather to talk water infrastructure and funding.

This year felt different than most. Capitol Hill was abuzz with the American Health Care Act in the House and the confirmation hearings for Judge Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice. Closely behind was the release of the president’s “skinny” budget— a proposed budget consisting of top-level line items for federal programs but without specific details. Of interest to PNCWA was a proposed 31% cut to the EPA budget, which did not include any cut to SRF funding, and the removal of the line item for USDA Rural Development funding, which is often used to finance infrastructure projects for smaller municipalities.

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2017 National Water Policy Fly-In

2017 National Water Policy Fly-In

Water Sector Unites to Elevate Water as a National Priority; PNCWA  Government Affairs Committee members participate in Congressional meetings.

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