AWWA Fly-In set for March 15-16 AWWA’s annual Water Matters! Fly-In will be March 15-16, with the Washington Marriott at Metro Center again serving as the headquarters hotel. During the Fly-In, delegates selected by AWWA section leaders come to Washington, D.C., to talk to their members of U.S. Congress about issues of concern to the drinking water community. The Water Utility Council (WUC) sponsors the event, and the WUC will conduct its spring meeting immediately after the Fly-In. The WUC will reimburse travel expenses for one section 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. Sections are free to send additional delegates at the section’s, delegate’s or employer’s expense. The Fly-In began in 2002 and has been an annual event except in 2020, due to the COVID pandemic. It was virtual in 2021 and returned to an in-person event last spring. The Fly-In usually draws about 150 participants from almost all 50 states. Delegates have advocated for AWWA’s positions on issues such as water infrastructure finance and effective, practical drinking water regulation. AWWA’s Government Affairs staff will send more information, such as registration processes and a hotel booking link, in the coming weeks. Nationwide rail strike averted Congress approved – and President Biden signed – legislation last week that prevented a nationwide rail strike that would have crippled delivery of crucial water treatment chemicals. AWWA members responded to an alert from the association , sending e-mails and calls into their own members of Congress. The Biden Administration led negotiations that resulted in an agreement between railroads and a dozen unions back in September. However, while eight of the unions voted to approve the pact, four crucial unions voted it down. A nationwide strike would not only have risked pushing the country into a recession, it would have had a debilitating effect on delivery of crucial water treatment chemicals such as chlorine. While not all water utilities receive direct delivery via rail, most chlorine for utilities comes to distributors by rail and is then trucked to water utilities. The pact between rail companies and unions is good through 2024. A major point of contention was the amount of paid sick leave permitted for employees. First step taken to improve PFAS release data collection Earlier this week, EPA proposed changes to the Toxics Release Inventory rule for PFAS that included recommendations from AWWA regarding an existing de minimus exemption from reporting requirements. The current rule was established in 2020 following the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA 2020). Under the existing requirements, entities releasing PFAS are exempt from reporting through a de minimis exemption that precludes reporting when PFAS releases do not exceed the d e minimis concentration. AWWA raised concerns about this approach, noting that it would lead to significant releases of PFAS being unreported. EPA data from 2020 and 2021 have demonstrated that the de minimis exemption led to very few releases being reported, rendering the data ineffective. The proposed rule implements the changes recommended by AWWA to eliminate the availability of this exemption for PFAS and enhances reporting requirements for suppliers. NPDES guidance updated for PFAS EPA updated its April 2022 guidance for national Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit writers with an eye toward all state Clean Water Act programs employing the new guidance . Like the April guidance, it is applicable to publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) and utilizes pre-treatment programs as a tool to both identify and curtail the release of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into wastewater and ultimately into waters of the U.S. Of note, this memorandum includes monitoring of biosolids from POTWs, as well as provision for notification of downstream public water systems. The guidance anticipates the use of EPA methods 1621 and 1633 . New report assists in communicating about lithium A new AWWA-commissioned report is out, aimed at helping water system managers communicate with the public about lithium in water as new monitoring requirements loom for the substance. “ Lithium in Drinking Water ” – prepared by Risks Sciences International – reviews the state of available science on lithium and puts ongoing public discussions in the context of the continuum of lithium exposure. Beginning next year, many water systems will begin testing for lithium under the federal Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule. For many, it will be the first time they face the challenge of speaking to stakeholders about lithium, a complicated contaminant to explain. Lithium is prescribed for mental health conditions and nutritional supplements are sold containing this substance. Some epidemiologists are ascribing positive societal benefits from lithium in drinking water, while conversely, EPA toxicologists and others have calculated levels of concern at low concentrations. AWWA department director features in EPA webinar EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center has two webinars coming soon on capacity building and workforce issues, with the latter featuring AWWA Director of Engineering and Technical Services Barb Martin. At 2:30-3:30 p.m. EDT Monday, the office will present a webinar on how states can use their “set-aside” funds from the drinking water state revolving loan fund (SRF) program to support resiliency to climate change. It will also cover how to leverage EPA’s Creating Resilient Water Utilities Initiative to help members of the water sector identify long-term adaptation options. Registration is available online . The second webinar – 1-2:30 p.m. EDT Thursday – will cover “ Creating the Water Workforce of the Future .” Martin will present along with DC Water’s Compliance Specialist Sharon Talley and Director of Compliance and Business Development Korey Grey. Registration is free and available online . Webinar to provide update of regulations AWWA Government Affairs staff and speakers from CDM Smith will provide an update and forecast for crucial federal drinking water regulations in a webinar set for 1-2:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday. Topics covered will include cybersecurity, a recently released hexavalent chromium health assessment, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and developments in the Lead and Copper Rule. The event will be two days before the White House marks the one-year anniversary of its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan . Registration costs $75 for members and $120 for non-members.