House PFAS bill poised to move With many House Democrats and some Republicans frustrated with how provisions regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were handled in last month’s defense authorization bill , House leadership was poised to pass a more sweeping PFAS bill today. H.R. 535 started out last year as a bill from Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., that would have mandated that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declare all PFAS compounds hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund. Last week, H.R. 535’s supporters added in several other PFAS-related bills, including one mandating that EPA issue national primary drinking water standards for PFAS compounds within two years. At a minimum, standards would have to be issued for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). EPA appears to be on track to do that anyway. AWWA and a number of other water associations sent a letter to each member of the House of Representatives on Wednesday outlining concerns with the legislation. On Thursday, AWWA, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the National Association of Water Companies sent a joint letter to all House offices urging support for an amendment offered by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., that would push back on the bill’s expedited processes for developing regulations an d health advisories for drinking water. A number of other amendments were considered this week as well, with more than 20 scheduled to come to the House floor. While the bill has 66 co-sponsors, including four Republicans, it is expected to die in the Senate. In addition, the White House this week announced that President Trump would veto the bill if it came to his desk. EPA issues groundwater cleanup guides for PFAS EPA has issued interim recommendations for cleaning up groundwaters contaminated with PFOA and PFOS. While these are directly intended for federal cleanup efforts under CERCLA or similar laws, EPA is offering the guidelines for use by states and others. Final recommendations are to be determined for each specific site undergoing a cleanup. In this guidance, the agency recommends the following: Using a screening level of 40 parts per trillion (ppt) to determine if PFOA and/or PFOS is present at a site and may warrant further attention. Using EPA's PFOA and PFOS Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory level of 70 ppt as the preliminary remediation goal (PRG) for contaminated groundwater that is a current or potential source of drinking water, where no state or tribal MCL or other applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs) are available or sufficiently protective. Drinking water SRF now allows water rights purchases Loans from the drinking water state revolving loan fund (SRF) program can now be used for water rights purchases under certain conditions, according to a memo from EPA. These conditions include purchasing rights for sources that are of higher quality than existing sources to meet public health goals if the current supply is insufficient to meet current demand, or if changing hydrologic conditions require supplementing existing sources. Under the SRF, EPA provides annual capitalization grants to states after Congress passes appropriations legislation for the program. State agencies then administer the program, making loans for specific projects. The SRF program has traditionally not allowed the use of loan proceeds to purchase water rights, exc ept with very limited exceptions during transactions where utilities are consolidating. The drinking water SRF program has a general prohibition on use for projects designed to address population growth, focusing instead on addressing public health concerns and serving a utility’s existing customer base. However, in recent years, there have been several individual exceptions granted for the purchase of water rights to meet public health needs. EPA offering American Iron and Steel webinar EPA is offering a webinar at 1 p.m. EDT Jan. 21 to discuss implementation of American Iron and Steel requirements under the drinking water and wastewater the SRF. The target audience for this webinar is manufacturers, suppliers and distributors. A key topic will be the expiration and sunsetting of the national waiver for stainless steel nuts and bolts in couplings/flanges/restraints/saddles/joints on Feb. 24. Registration is available online . WIFIA funding availability notice expected in May The water infrastructure finance office at EPA expects to issue a “Notice of Funding Availability” in the Federal Register in May for up to $5.5 billion in loans under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act ( WIFIA ) program and under a new state-oriented WIFIA-type program. The consolidated appropriations bill that became law last month provided $55 million in funding for the two programs -- $50 million for WIFIA and $5 million for the state program. Because WIFIA funds up to 49 percent of a project’s costs, the funding means up to $11 billion in water infrastructure investment. Every dollar appropriated for WIFIA equals up to $100 in loans because Congress only has to appropriate money for the risk factor in WIFIA, and water utilities are among the safest risks in infrastructure. Administration proposes rollback of NEPA The Trump Administration is proposing to scale back requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for construction of infrastructure projects. Once formally proposed in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day public comment period. The proposal would put a two-year time limit for federal environmental impact statements and eliminate NEPA jurisdiction for some projects, such as those in which most of the funding is not from federal sources. The proposal is already controversial and could be tied up in the courts for some time. Wheeler names Region 5 administrator EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler this week named Kurt Thiede regional administrator for the agency’s Region 5, effective Jan. 18. Region 5 covers Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. Thiede has been serving as chief of staff for Region 5 since early 2018. He succeeds Cathy Stepp, who Wheeler said was going home to be with her family in Missouri. Thiede had previously served in Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources for 18 years. From 2015-17, he was the department’s deputy secretary.