EPA announces PFAS, other funding news The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $2 billion to states to address emerging contaminants, such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. This funding was a part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Concurrent with this announcement, the agency released guidance for the Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant program. In other funding news, EPA is seeking public comment until March 17 on approaches to implementing the $3 billion provided for an Environmental and Climate Justice program funded in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. The agency is seeking comments on topics such as program design, the types of projects to fund, application barriers, reporting and oversight, and technical assistance. In further efforts to implement the IIJA, EPA this week announced updates to its Water Technical Assistance website. The site includes a fact sheet on assistance resources, a request form for assistance, a list of the types of assistance available and descriptions of who is eligible for assistance in this no-cost program. More information is available at WaterTA@epa.gov . Comments sought on U.S. BABA revisions Comments are due March 13 on a proposal by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on proposed updates to the definitions of the cost of manufactured products and construction materials under the Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act . Since releasing its initial guidance on BABA last April, OMB staff have held discussions with stakeholders – including AWWA – on potential refinement of definitions and standards. In its announcement this week, OMB said it is seeking to make BABA standards uniform across federal agencies. OMB is seeking comment on the following issues: The cost of components Whether additional construction materials should be considered in BABA guidance If additional guidance is needed on the cost of construction materials Whether OMB should adopt a definition of “predominantly” iron or steel items How to distinguish between different categories of products The meaning of “composite” building materials Whether fiber optic cables or optical fibers should continue to be considered construction materials How aggregate materials such as stone, sand or gravel should be treated under BABA SAB kicks off Cr(VI) health assessment review EPA’s Science Advisory Board is now considering the agency’s draft health assessments for chromium VI. The panel will meet in person March 29-31 to begin responding to the charge questions. In the kick-off call for the board, EPA’s co-leads on the assessment argued that it winnowed down which studies to include in a systematic fashion, while public commenters contended that EPA discounted key studies based on either a misunderstanding of the science or a deliberate bias. The presentations are available at the SAB website. Health Canada opens PFAS discussions Health Canada is considering an “ objective ” of 30 ng/L for the sum of total per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) detected in drinking water. Total PFAS would be calculated using the full list of substances in either EPA’s Method 533, or EPA Method 537.1, or both. Water systems would be expected to maintain PFAS concentrations in drinking water as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA). The Canadian government opened discussions this week based on the document “ Consultation: Draft objective for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in Canadian drinking water .” The consultation will end April 12. A consultation by the Canadian government is a process used to facilitate and promote a flow of information between clients of government services and the government. There are currently guideline values for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). Both were finalized in 2018. EPA to host webinar on financial guidance EPA will host a webinar at 1-2 p.m. EST Thursday to discuss its just-released Financial Capacity Assessment Guidance . As reported in the Feb. 3 Washington Insider , this guidance replaces prior guidance and introduces additional expectations. Registration is available here . The purpose of the guidance is to outline strategies for communities to support affordable utility rates while planning investments in water infrastructure that are essential for Clean Water Act (CWA) implementation. It is used by municipalities when devising plans to come into compliance with the CWA. Webinar speakers will be from EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center and Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. IAPMO and AWWA jointly publish new manual AWWA and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) jointly published “Manual of Recommended Practice for: The Safe Closure and Reopening of Building Water Systems” as the result of a cooperative development agreement between the organizations formed on July 29, 2020. The manual is available for free download here . It offers expert guidance on safely closing and reopening buildings’ water systems and best practices for potable, non-potable and mechanical water systems.