AWWA surveying state response to PFAS advisories AWWA is seeking member feedback on how states have responded to the recent drinking water health advisories for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released two interim lifetime drinking water health advisories for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and two final advisories for hexafluoropropylene dimer acid (HFPO-DA or GenX) and perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS). Drinking water health advisories are described by EPA as non-enforceable and non-regulatory. However, previous health advisories have led state regulators and EPA regional staff to implement requirements in response, such as shutting down drinking water wells and public notifications when the advisories are exceeded. Please provide your insights at this link or by contacting Chris Moody , AWWA’s regulatory technical manager, at (202) 326-6127. Responses will be kept anonymous. EPA releases lead service line inventory guidance EPA’s Guidance for Developing and Maintaining a Service Line Inventory is now available, and EPA will host a webinar on the guidance August 10. The registration link is available here . Lead service line inventories must be prepared by all water systems subject to the Lead and Copper Rule, and submittals are due to primacy agencies no later than Oct. 16, 2024. EPA describes this guidance saying, “This document is not a regulation itself, nor does it change or substitute for those provisions and regulations.” EPA also emphasizes that states may set additional expectations with which systems must comply. EPA left open the possibility that the upcoming Improvements rulemaking could change inventory “updating” requirements. The guidance includes several themes, among them (1) preparing an initial inventory based on a weight-of-evidence approach reflecting the best available information, (2) establishing procedures to update service line material characterization, and (3) updating the inventory through ongoing operations and proactive efforts. At several points in the guidance EPA urges systems to reduce the number of service lines characterized as “lead status unknown” prior to initial inventory submittal. In the inventory, if either the customer-owned or public portion of the service line is considered unknown, the service line should be identified as “lead status unknown” in the inventory. Note: EPA included a list of state-specific implementation dates for the 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act Lead Ban in Appendix D. The guidance recognizes uses of predictive modeling as a tool in inventory preparation. AWWA recommends changes to discharge rule AWWA has recommended several modifications to a regulation proposed by EPA for worst-case situations involving discharges of hazardous substances. The agency’s Proposed Rule for Clean Water Act Hazardous Substance Worst Case Discharge Planning Regulations ( 87 FR 17890 , Docket EPA-HQ-OLEM-2021-0585 ) would require facilities with Clean Water Act-listed hazardous substances to perform a screening analysis to determine if they should be mandated to prepare a facility response plan (FRP). These plans are based on a worst-case scenario for extensive incidents that may result in a large release of a hazardous substance. This includes consideration of potential impacts on sources of public water supplies. AWWA’s comments include the following recommendations for consideration by EPA: EPA should reconsider the “no action” decision promulgated under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 311(j)(1)(C) for hazardous substances (HS) discharge prevention and containment. EPA should provide an exemption or mechanism to cite risk management plans (RMPs) for facilities with a CWA-listed substance that have implemented protective measures to mitigate a release under the RMP per Clean Air Act §112(r). EPA should reconsider the Source Water Zone of Concern (ZOC) to provide a reasonable starting point and offer a conservative baseline that is protective of public water systems. The ZOC was developed by EPA’s Water Security Division and is based on an area associated with a surface water intake extending 50 miles upstream, a quarter-mile downstream, including all major tributaries, and a quarter-mile buffer inland from the water body area boundary. EPA should clarify how overland transport factors into consideration for impacts on groundwater aquifers used for public drinking water. AWWA, EPA partnering on workforce webinar EPA is partnering with AWWA and other water organizations to host a free webinar Aug. 24 at 1-2:30 p.m. EDT on “Creating the Water Workforce of Tomorrow.” Staff from East Central University in Oklahoma will discuss a new K-12 STEM-based program designed to educate and prepare students for apprenticeships and jobs in utilities. Representatives of Grand Rapids Community College in West Michigan will describe a community-based program they run to educate and prepare students from disadvantaged communities for utility jobs. Registration is available online . U.S. Senate committee releases draft spending bills The Senate Appropriations Committee’s draft funding bill for fiscal year 2023 would provide $10.6 billion for EPA, a 10% increase in funding over last year. The largest funding boosts are directed toward climate and clean air programs, environmental justice, enforcement and compliance, and EPA’s toxic chemicals program. Water sector highlights include: $1.176 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) (4% increase) $229 million in DWSRF funds are reserved for earmarks to support construction of drinking water projects in congressmembers’ districts $185 million to address non-point source pollution (4% increase) $163 million for Toxics Risk Review and Prevention activities (66% increase) $69 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program The bill faces a long list of hurdles before becoming law. It must pass the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full Senate before a conference committee process will merge the Senate version and the House version. Then both the House and the Senate must pass the compromise version of the bill. Full-year spending bills also tend to be much more difficult to pass in election years, as the minority party would prefer to delay the process for a few more months in case they flip control of one or more chambers of Congress. This could increase the possibility of a “continuing resolution,” which would simply extend spending levels from last year’s funding bill for a period of time. Pilot program to use BIL funds for wastewater aid EPA this week unveiled a pilot program involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture and 11 communities across the country to utilize funds from last year’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) to provide basic wastewater management to those communities. AWWA expects to see additional pilot programs designed to help move BIL funds in the near future, including one to provide assistance to communities unfamiliar with applying for federal help and one to demonstrate successful lead service line replacement efforts. This first pilot will begin with the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona, where residents are reliant on outdated septic systems and a lagoon. This program, called “Closing America’s Wastewater Access Gap Community Initiative,” is designed to leverage technical and financial expertise among the partners. Each community or Tribe is to receive direct support to develop wastewater assessments with technical engineering support, design wastewater community solution plans, identify and pursue funding opportunities, and build long-term capacity. State partners will include agencies in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina and West Virginia. EPA approves one BABA waiver, proposes two more EPA has approved one waiver from Build America, Buy America (BABA) requirements for federally assisted water infrastructure projects and is seeking public comment until Aug. 15 on two more proposed waivers. The approved waiver is for projects receiving loans under the WIFIA program and for which specific design planning had begun before May 14, the day BABA took effect. The agency is now seeking comments on a proposed waiver for small projects , or those costing $250,000 or less. The second would be for “de minimis” expenses in a project, such as screws, washers, fasteners and similar hardware. The ceiling for those expenses would be 5% of the project’s costs. EPA staff is asking in particular if 5% is the appropriate threshold. Comments may be submitted to EPA_BABA_Waiver@epa.gov . Earlier in the year, EPA also asked for comments on proposed waivers for projects receiving funds under the State Revolving Loan Fund programs under certain conditions and for specific grant programs outside the SRFs and WIFIA. Final determinations on those are pending. Advice to physicians when to test for PFAS Guidance on PFAS Exposure, Testing, and Clinical Follow-Up (2022) from the National Academies of Science provides physicians with advice about when to test patients for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), how to engage patients regarding PFAS exposure, and when PFAS levels warrant conducting additional diagnostic tests. The report identifies the sum of methylperfluorooctane sulfonamidoacetic acid (MeFOSAA), perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), PFOA (linear and branched isomers), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA), (PFOS) (linear and branched isomers), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) above 2 ng/ml as potentially having adverse health effects. Levels higher than 20 ng/ml trigger additional diagnostic tests for particular populations for thyroid function, kidney cancer, testicular cancer and ulcerative colitis. The diagnostic framework targets individuals with identifiable sources of exposure, including contaminated drinking water and locales where biosolids are applied to land. The report emphasizes advising patients to reduce sources of PFAS exposure, including contaminated drinking water. WIFIA loan goes to Rhode Island project EPA announced the agency had closed on a $55 million WIFIA loan to the Narragansett Bay Commission in Providence, R.I. This will be the third WIFIA loan to the commission and will help finance upgrades to increase climate resiliency and cybersecurity at one of the nation’s oldest wastewater facilities. AWWA led efforts to create WIFIA in 2014. So far, the agency reports, the WIFIA program has closed on 89 loans totaling $15.4 billion in credit assistance to finance $33 billion in water infrastructure projects and create 100,000 jobs. The utility’s Field’s Point Wastewater Treatment Facilities has been in continuous operation for nearly 100 years. The agency said the project will serve 360,000 people, create 348 jobs and save the commission $13.5 million in financing costs.