Responses sought for U.S. cybersecurity survey Recent incidents have added urgency to discussions within the water sector and with U.S. Congress and federal agencies about how best to help utilities improve cybersecurity. To guide discussions with policymakers – and inform the sector’s own cybersecurity programs – national water and wastewater organizations are collaborating to develop a picture of current cybersecurity practices in the sector. The information from this survey will help the associations inform policymakers on the challenges and needs of the sector. The Water Sector Coordinating Council – AWWA, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Association of Water Companies, National Rural Water Association, the Water Information and Analysis Center, The Water Research Foundation, and Water Environment Federation – urge all U.S. water and wastewater systems to complete the anonymous survey no later than April 28. The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. It will not collect any identifying information, and only aggregated results will be shared publicly. Biden announces nominees for top EPA posts U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally announced his nominations for two top posts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Radhika Fox to be Assistant Administrator for Water and Michal Freedhoff to be Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. Fox has been serving in that post as acting administrator. Before that, she was executive director of the U.S. Water Alliance and worked for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. Freedhoff has been serving the EPA chemical office as principal deputy assistant administrator. Before that, she was on the staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and several House committees. AWWA has worked with both Fox and Freedhoff in their previous positions. Also this week, the Senate confirmed Biden’s pick to head the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Brenda Mallory . As chair of the council, she will be the president’s chief advisor on environmental policy. AWWA addresses EPA actions on lead rule extension In formal comments to EPA on its proposal to delay effective dates for the revised lead and copper rule, AWWA urged the agency to extend effective and compliance dates for the new rule commensurate with the additional time being sought for more stakeholder input. These comments also noted that any substantive changes to this lead and copper rule should be the subject of new public notice and comment processes. U.S. Senate water infrastructure bill headed to floor Senate leaders plan to consider the water infrastructure bill S. 914 on the floor of the Senate some time the week of April 19. The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the bill on a unanimous, bipartisan vote in late March. The legislation, also known as the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, is one of four bills dealing with water infrastructure currently circulating in Congress. H.R. 1848 and H.R. 1512 in the House deal with drinking water and a number of other infrastructures, while the Water Quality Protection Act is about to emerge from a House committee and will deal with wastewater infrastructure. These bills, plus the attention paid to water infrastructure in the Biden Administration’s American Jobs Plan, signal progress in getting policymakers’ attention on water infrastructure needs. AWWA sends affordability study to EPA AWWA has sent a study to EPA aimed at helping the agency more effectively analyze the impacts of drinking water regulatory decisions on household affordability. The report makes seven primary recommendations, and most significantly urges EPA to increase its focus on regulatory impacts to the lowest quintile of income, instead of relying on median household income. “ Improving the Evaluation of Household-Level Affordability in SDWA Rulemaking: New Approaches ” states that “Regulatory actions should neither decrease vulnerable persons’ access to affordable water nor neglect their needs for public health protection.” Leading the panel of experts were co-chairs Gary Coglianese of the University of Pennsylvania and John Graham of Indiana University. EPA staff participated as observers. EPA offering water quality modeling webinars EPA’s Water Quality Modeling Workgroup is hosting a series of webinars to help water quality professionals better understand surface water quality modeling and how they can be used to solve problems. The first session is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET Wednesday. The webinars are focused on modeling applied to the Total Maximum Daily Load, Standards and Water Quality Permitting Programs, but they are applicable to a wide range of audiences. These two-hour webinars cover everything from modeling basics (e.g., model setup and calibration) to applied water quality modeling of different pollutants. The first webinar is titled “Using the Water Quality Analysis Simulation Program (WASP) to Simulate Toxicant Concentrations in Surface Waters and Sediments.” Pre-registration is required and available online . Registration open for first EPA meeting on M/DBPs EPA has opened registration for an initial public meeting to be held 1-4 p.m. ET May 20 on potential revisions to the federal microbials and disinfection by-products (M/DBPs) rule. This session will focus on “Disinfectant Residual Levels and Opportunistic Pathogens (including Legionella ).” All participants must pre-register by May 17. EPA hosted a public meeting last October framing a broad array of issues for potential revisions under the Safe Drinking Water Act for M/DBPs. The discussion emphasized maintaining or improving water quality in distribution systems but also included treatment and source water considerations. In March, EPA released a tentative schedule and topics of public engagements beginning in May and continuing monthly through November. These meetings will be hosted virtually. EPA encourages participants to register as soon as possible, since availability is on a first-come, first-served basis.