AWWA Fly-In promotes infrastructure, PFAS action About 150 AWWA members from 49 states took to Capitol Hill last week for the 18th annual Water Matters! Fly-In and visited almost 350 congressional offices. The delegates primarily promoted appropriations for water infrastructure and conservation programs and federal action regarding per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). At a reception on the top floor of the Library of Congress’ Madison Building, Rep. Paul Tonko , D-N.Y., urged AWWA members to press Congress hard to invest in water infrastructure and similar issues. Tonko is the new chair of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, which has direct jurisdiction over drinking water issues. AWWA member Chris Wheland of New York introduced Tonko and mentioned that Tonko has a degree in mechanical and industrial engineering from Clarkson University, a research university in New York noted for its engineering program. Delegates reported receiving favorable responses to the appropriations requests and a range of interest in PFAS issues on Capitol Hill. Next year’s Fly-In will be the week of April 27 and a joint event with Water Week, an annual event organized by wastewater and other water organizations. Expect an announcement in the fall about registration. Section leadership coordinates the appointment of delegates. EPA announces new round of WIFIA funding The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of about $6 billion in funding for 2019 loans under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act ( WIFIA ) program. The agency will accept “ Letters of Interest ” for WIFIA loans for 90 days after this “Notice of Funding Availability” is published in the Federal Register . A letter of interest triggers a dialogue with EPA staff, who then suggest to interested parties whether they should proceed to the formal application phase. In a press release about the funding availability, EPA said it would prioritize construction-ready projects in four areas: updating aging infrastructure, reducing lead exposure, addressing emerging contaminants, and water reuse and recycling. EPA issues a “Notice of Funding Availability” after it receives appropriations for a given federal fiscal year. AWWA and EY partner on new study 'To P3 or not to P3' AWWA and EYIA (an EY member organization) released a new report about municipal utility experiences with and perceptions of public-private partnership (P3) projects. The study was meant to gather information about utilities’ knowledge and opinions and not to advocate for or against the P3 model. A survey found that utilities are generally well-informed about water infrastructure delivery options, including P3s. A P3 delivery structure was viewed as a way to bring additional skills and resources to specific projects, rather than as a replacement for established services. EPA issues guidance on SRF changes in AWIA EPA has issued guidance to the administrators of the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan funds (SRFs) regarding changes included in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA), which was signed into law in October 2018. There are several key provisions within AWIA that impact how SRFs will be administrated, particularly regarding new capitalization funds coming from EPA. These include: • Increasing the subsidy amount that can be provided to certain low-income and otherwise disadvantaged communities, • Additional authorized uses of set-asides from capitalization grants for source water protection and source water assessment activities, • An extension of American Iron and Steel requirements through fiscal year 2023 (which will likely then be extended), and • Increasing the maximum loan period from 30 to 40 years for certain communities. Utilities that use the Drinking Water SRF should contact their state’s SRF administration to discuss any impacts on current or planned projects. State guidelines can be found on EPA’s site . Risk & Resilience compliance and certifications EPA issued a Federal Register notice on compliance with AWIA. The notice reports on statutory requirements for community water systems that serve 3,300 or more people, specifically what must be included in the risk and resilience assessment (RRA) and the emergency response plan (ERP). EPA will provide three approaches for certification of RRAs and ERPs: (1) regular mail; (2) email; and (3) a user-friendly secure online portal (to be developed). Contact information for each option will be available by Aug. 1. EPA also announced the procedure for returning vulnerability assessments prepared under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, if they are requested. The request must be emailed on utility letterhead to WSD-Outreach@epa.gov , and include: utility name, PWS ID number, address and point of contact information for the individual who will be responsible for receiving the vulnerability assessment. Assessments not reclaimed will be destroyed by EPA. AWWA is offering a new Utility Risk & Resilience Certificate Program to assist utilities in the application of several AWWA standards and best practices to satisfy AWIA. This certificate program is based primarily on three ANSI/AWWA standards (G430, J100 and G440) that provide a transparent approach by which a utility can demonstrate due diligence. The first course in the series will be released April 10 and provides a detailed review of AWIA and how utilities can develop risk and resilience management strategies. Additional EPA resources are being developed to assist utilities with AWIA, with expected release in August. EPA risk assessment focus reflects PFAS Action Plan EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) periodically releases updates about its chemical risk assessments. This week IRIS updated its December 2018 outlook , indicating a change in previous priorities important to the water sector. The April 2019 outlook reflects the Agency’s Per- and Poly-fluoroalkyl Substance Action Plan released in February 2019. The outlook states that public comment drafts of risk assessments for Perfluorononanoate (PFNA), Perfluorobutyrate (PFBA), Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid (PFHxS), and Perfluorodecanoate (PFDA) will be available in third quarter 2020. Ongoing reviews of the inorganic arsenic and hexavalent chromium risk assessments will continue. Several risk assessments, which EPA expected to support future SDWA decisions, have been suspended. This list includes ammonia, chloroform, ethylbenzene, manganese, nitrite/nitrate and uranium. Health advisories as regulatory bright lines The water sector is familiar with the challenges water systems face in California, where Public Health Goals are confused with “bright line” risk management objectives or Maximum Contaminant Levels, despite explanations to the contrary . Systems in several other states are now facing similar challenges in the wake of observed concentrations of manganese in the current Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule cycle -- above EPA’s 2004 300 µg/L 10-day health advisory level for infants younger than six-months. State discussions have been impacted by broad press statements and congressional testimony by senior EPA officials. This week Administrator Wheeler stated, “We are enforcing our health advisories,” when speaking about EPA practice regarding the perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) health advisory (70 ng/L). However, there is a clear understanding with EPA program and enforcement staff that advisory values are not enforceable federal standards and should be used in combination with other site-specific considerations when determining if additional risk management steps should be taken. That more nuanced presentation of health advisories is not the evolving practice in the field. Individual state responses include adopting new administrative procedures for Tier 1 public notice for exceedance of short-term health advisories, individual do-not-drink orders for systems that exceed the manganese short-term and development of dedicated monitoring and public notice requirements . The second UCMR4 dataset will be released in mid-late April for utilities wanting to review their communication materials on manganese, algal toxins, tebuconazole or other monitored analytes. Harvard and EDF team up to evaluate state LSLR laws Whether a water system is allowed by state law to use funds derived from water rates to pay for customer-side lead service line replacement (LSLR) is an ongoing discussion in numerous states. This week, the Harvard Law School’s Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released a report entitled “ Rates could fund lead pipe replacement in critical states ”. The report evaluates current state law in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, Missouri, Indiana, Texas, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Florida and Pennsylvania. These are states where current estimates suggest there are many lead service lines. The report focuses on mechanisms to enable such authority at the state level. It is not an evaluation of the related legal question frequently debated, as to whether EPA has the authority to require full-lead service line replacement under the Safe Drinking Water Act.