AWWA testifies on PFAS before House panel AWWA Executive Director for Government Affairs Tracy Mehan told a House panel on Wednesday that existing federal authorities could be used to better address exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Testifying before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, Mehan cited the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) as a tool that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could use more effectively. “TSCA has data-gathering authority that the agency could use to garner more information from the manufacturing sector about the number of PFAS compounds that have been developed, in what quantities they were produced, and where they were produced,” he said. “TSCA data indicates that manufacturers have already discontinued the use of a number of PFAS compounds, but state and local risk managers need more information than is currently available to manage legacy compounds and proactively manage PFAS that are currently in use.” The hearing was streamed live and recorded for later viewing on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s website . One focus of the hearing was H.R. 2377 , the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act, which would mandate that EPA issue a maximum contaminant level goal and national primary drinking water regulation for total PFAS within two years of enactment. This bill is likely to pass in the House but would face a tougher road in the Senate. However, senators up for re-election in states with PFAS detections could push hard on this or a companion bill in the Senate. This legislative activity is taking place over a backdrop of extensive regulatory actions being taken by individual states; see AWWA’s Summary for more details. EPA awards PFAS research grants In related news, EPA has awarded two grants totaling $3.9 million to two universities to study the effects of human and ecological exposure to PFAS. This is part of the research component of the agency’s PFAS Action Plan announced earlier this year. One grant was awarded to the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo., to study the fate, transport, bioaccumulation and exposure of PFAS compounds in nationally represented PFAS-impacted communities. The other went to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore., to examine the toxicity of a large collection of PFAS and PFAS mixtures with a zebrafish assay and mice studies to identify toxic PFAS that require prioritization for risk management. Small system compliance workshop May 21-22 Small system compliance will be addressed at a meeting co-hosted by EPA, state agencies in its Region 6, and the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators in Addison, Texas, May 21-22. The agenda includes an overview of solutions and strategies for managing small system compliance challenges. It is targeted toward state regulators, water system owners and operators, local and tribal government staff, academia, design engineers, technical assistance providers and consultants. Registration is available online . Region 6 includes Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma. EPA accepting ‘Letters of Interest’ for latest WIFIA loans The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program is accepting “Letters of Interest” through July 5 for its latest round of loans. The WIFIA program will leverage approximately $60 million in funds this year to provide flexible, single fixed interest rate loans for up to 49% of eligible project costs. WIFIA loans are commonly used in conjunction with State Revolving Funds. EPA, which administers WIFIA, announced four priorities for this round of loans using fiscal year 2019 funds: • Readiness for a project to proceed toward development; • Provision for clean and safe drinking water, including reducing exposure to lead and emerging contaminants in the nation’s drinking water systems; • Repair, rehabilitation and replacement of aging infrastructure and conveyance systems; and • New or innovative approaches including water reuse and recycling. Applying for a WIFIA loan is a two-step process that begins with the submission of a “Letter of Interest” to EPA, which is available online . The agency plans to complete the review and selection process by fall. For questions about project eligibility, email email@example.com . Healthy Watersheds Consortium issues grants to protect drinking water The Healthy Watersheds Consortium, a partnership between EPA, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, recently issued more than $1.5 million in grants to nine projects to protect sources of drinking water and support other environmental benefits in those watersheds. Utilities interested in similar future projects can visit the Healthy Watersheds Consortium website for more information and to sign up for announcements. Updated occurrence data for UCMR 4 released this month In December 2016, the Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) was published in the Federal Register. It is the latest iteration of the Safe Drinking Water Act process to fill the occurrence data gaps prior to an EPA decision to regulate a new contaminant. To date, EPA has released three rounds of data summary from UCMR 4, with the most recent release this month. The percentage of public water systems with at least one value over the reference concentration is 7.4% for disinfection byproduct Haloacetic Acids, 2.1% for manganese, 0.6% for quinoline, 0.4% for alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane and 0.4% for total microcystins. AWWA raises concern with FCC proposal for unlicensed 6 GHz The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently issued a proposal to open the 6 GHz spectrum band to unlicensed use. AWWA is concerned that FCC’s proposal threatens the integrity of mission-critical communications networks used by the water sector and others to provide essential daily services. AWWA, along with the Utilities Technology Council, Edison Electric Institute, American Public Power Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, delivered a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai calling on the FCC to ensure that existing uses by critical infrastructure systems are protected from interference prior to approving this proposal. The letter complements a filing with the FCC that details the potential for unlicensed 6 GHz use to cause an unreasonably high risk of interference. This could adversely impact critical infrastructure communications and put at risk the safety of life, health and property that incumbent licensees help to protect. EPA seeks ways to encourage produced water reuse/recycling On Wednesday EPA released a draft, Study of Oil and Gas Extraction Wastewater Management Under the Clean Water Act , for review and public input until July 1. Comments should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org . As part of this review opportunity, EPA specifically asks, 'What non-regulatory steps should EPA take to encourage re-use/recycling of produced water?” This report follows a joint effort between EPA and the State of New Mexico and last month’s EPA report, Management of Oil and Gas Exploration, Development and Production Wastes: Factors Informing a Decision on the Need for Regulatory Action . There are reports that the Groundwater Protection Council is preparing a report on disposition and/or beneficial reuse of oil and gas produced waste that may be completed this quarter.