NRCS source water protection funding expected soon The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is expected to announce funding under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in the coming weeks. RCPP is a Farm Bill conservation program that allows partners interested in environmental benefits (including source water protection) to propose projects to NRCS and receive up to $10 million over five years. You will recall that AWWA’s advocacy efforts helped make source water protection a major part of this program. If your utility is interested in developing a proposal, please contact Adam Carpenter in AWWA’s Washington, D.C. office for assistance. DHS issues advisory after municipal cyberattacks After what appears to be an attack on more than 20 Texas communities, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued an advisory on actions that entities should take to mitigate the impacts of a ransomware attacks. The DHS recommendations include updating software, educating staff about not clicking links in unsolicited emails, and backing up data on a regular basis. These incidents follow high-profile attacks on Atlanta and Baltimore that impacted multiple city organizations, including water utility business enterprise systems. The FBI also issued ransomware guidance that provides an overview of various employee and operational changes an entity can implement to reduce the likelihood of an attack. Fish and Wildlife Service issues new ESA guidance The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) last week issued revised regulations for several processes . These include changes to the listing of endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, the designation of critical habitat and interagency cooperation. It is not clear exactly how the complex changes will be utilized. They are likely to increase the difficulty of adding new species as threatened or endangered and designating new critical habitats and make it easier to remove listings of existing species if certain criteria are met. Another change is removal of the “blanket rule,” which generally provided the less critical threatened species with the same protection as more threatened endangered ones. Utilities involved in infrastructure projects or operations that involve species that are endangered, threatened or are likely to be listed in the future may wish to examine the new rules and discuss their implications with USFWS. Newark told to provide bottled water to residents The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has advised the city of Newark, N.J. to provide bottled water to residents with lead service lines after tests showed high levels in two of three homes using home treatment devices. Newark is making corrosion control improvements in its system in the wake of exceedances of the federal Lead and Copper Rule. The city has an active, full lead service line replacement program and was providing filters proactively to customers with lead service lines. EPA prepared Frequently Asked Questions pertaining to this situation. AMA study cautions against fluoride intake during pregnancy The Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics on Monday published a report finding that a “1-mg increase in fluoride intake was associated with a 3.66 ...lower FSIQ score among boys and girls.” The report, “Association Between Maternal Fluoride Exposure During Pregnancy and IQ Scores in Offspring in Canada,” indicates a possible need to reduce fluoride intake during pregnancy. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Dental Association warned against deducing conclusions from a single study. EPA to clarify which water guidances are currently in effect Earlier this month, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross notified agency regional offices that the Office of Water is establishing a public website to provide an inventory of guidance and policy documents that are currently in effect. Once established, the website will be updated within 30 days of guidance issuance. The Office of Water said it has found 2,500 interim or final policy documents and 70 draft documents that were never issued as final or formally withdrawn. Ross’ memorandum also notes that agency guidance does not have the force or effect of law. However, such documents do inform state and individual actions so “effective immediately, all draft documents that were issued more than two years ago and that have not been finalized are hereby rescinded.” No new regulations added to Clean Water Act After reviewing the hazardous substance regulations under Clean Water Act's (CWA) section 311 (j) (1) (C), EPA did not add any new regulatory requirements. In a press release issued by the agency, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler stated, “EPA’s analysis concluded the current requirements for hazardous substance discharge prevention are protective of human health and the environment and, therefore, additional requirements are unnecessary. Protection of our nation’s waterways is a top priority for EPA, and we will continue to use our many programs and tools to protect and respond to threats in our waterways.” The review was part of the bi-annual review of the CWA's section 311 (j) (1) (C). More information is available on EPA's website . Time to start thinking about Fly-In delegates With many AWWA Sections having their annual conferences in late summer and fall, this is a good time for Section leadership to discuss who will be their delegates at AWWA’s annual Water Matters! Fly-In April 29 and 30 in Washington, D.C. The Fly-In is AWWA’s primary grassroots advocacy effort. Each year, about 150 association members gather in Washington to talk to their members of Congress about drinking water legislation. AWWA’s Water Utility Council hosts the event and pays travel expenses for one delegate for every 10 members of the U.S. House of Representatives that a state has, with every state getting at least one reimbursed delegate. AWWA’s Government Affairs Office will issue a notice in the fall when registration begins via the weekly Section Services newsletter to leadership.