EPA adds 160 PFAS to Toxics Release Inventory The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has added 160 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to the list of chemicals covered by the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), as required under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020. The reporting threshold for each compound is 100 pounds, and calendar year 2020 data will be due to the agency July 1, 2021. The act specifically named 14 PFAS and issued criteria for others. EPA studied the criteria and originated the initial list of 160; additional PFAS may be added following an EPA review of compounds subject to a claim of confidentiality. The 100-pound threshold includes manufacturing, processing and “otherwise use” of PFAS. It also contains a provision that requires EPA to add PFAS that meet other criteria in the future, such as if EPA finalizes a toxicity value for a specific PFAS or if a specific PFAS is detected by a validated drinking water method. In December 2019, EPA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, which requested public comment on specific PFAS that should be added to the TRI. Public comments are due to EPA by Feb. 3, 2020; AWWA plans to submit comments. USGS offers enhanced online watershed modeling The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has begun offering online, interactive maps of watersheds across the country showing estimated streamflows and yields of nitrogen, phosphorous and suspended sediments. USGS calls the service SPARROW for Spatially Referenced Regression on Watershed attributes. There are maps available for the Southwest , Pacific , Southeast , Midwest and Northeast . USGS believes this information can help land and resource managers prioritize efforts to improve water quality. The online models show nutrient and sediment loading at a resolution of about two square kilometers, much finer than in previous models, which displayed a resolution of about 132 square kilometers. The base year for the models is 2012. Updated cyanotoxins assessment tool available to utilities For several years, AWWA has supported a tool designed to help utilities understand how their treatment systems can be used to manage cyanotoxins issues. Based on peer-reviewed kinetic models, the updated CyanoTOX Version 3.0 (Microsoft Excel) can be used to assess the performance of five different oxidants in addressing microcystin-LR and a variety of other cyanotoxins for specific systems. The new version adds the ability to assess a wider variety of situations, including release of intracellular toxins, three zones of oxidation and others. Other resour ces on AWWA’s Cyanobacteria/Cyanotoxins Resource page address how to develop more detailed site-specific assessments to test a system’s performance against modeled projections. Administration announces new WOTUS EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials on Thursday unveiled the newest definition of waters under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act, also known as “Waters of the U.S.” A pre-publication version of the rule was made available online prior to publication in the Federal Register. Wheeler unveiled the “ Navigable Waters Protection Rule ” at the annual conference of the National Association of Home Builders. Last fall, the Trump administration withdrew the Waters of the U.S. rule issued by the Obama administration. AWWA provided its own comments on the issue last spring. Compared to the Obama-era rule, which never fully went into effect, the revised rule will place considerably fewer waters under federal regulation, deferring instead to state requirement. The revised rule contains four categories of waters to be included in federal jurisdiction and twelve categories excluded. Exclusions include “groundwater recharge, water reuse, and wastewater recycling structures” which are regulated under other mechanisms. Report addresses upstream bromide discharges and DBPs A recently issued report sponsored by AWWA’s Water Industry Technical Action Fund, Methods to Assess Anthropogenic Bromide Loads from Coal-fired Power Plants and Their Potential Effect on Downstream Drinking Water Utilities, is publicly available. The report describes a methodology that state Clean Water Act regulators can use to identify and address discharges of bromide from coal power plants upstream of drinking water intakes. Increased bromide impacts disinfection byproduct formation by increasing overall formation as well as the percentage of brominated DBPs. This work was pursued in part because of pending updates to EPA’s Steam Power Effluent Limitations Guidelines , which in its 2015 form called for states to address upstream bromide discharges but did not provide many details (a revision to this rule is currently underway and may or may not provide meaningful additional protections). In addition to AWWA efforts to make this information available to state regulators, the report is freely available to utilities and others to discuss with their states, upstream power plants and any others who may benefit from it. The report and other resources are available on AWWA’s Source Water Protection Resource page . U.S. Senate passes plastics removal bill The U.S. Senate has passed legislation, S. 1982 , that takes broad aim at removing debris, particularly plastics, from waterways. The Save our Seas Act 2.0, which passed under unanimous consent, would create grant programs for states and units of local government – including drinking water utilities and wastewater utilities – to help remove or reduce debris from water. The bill would also require EPA to submit a report to Congress by January 2023, assessing the value of converting the grant program to a revolving loan fund program for waste management. The bill would authorize $55 million annually for the state program for fiscal years 2021-25 and $10 million a year each for the drinking water and wastewater grant programs. No funding would be allowed unless the existing drinking water and wastewater State Revolving Fund programs had received at least the same amount of money as they had received in FY2019. Other features of the bill include creation of a new foundation at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assist state and local governments with marine debris removal as well as the creation of a trust fund for marine debris removal. The legislation has been referred to six committees in the House of Representatives. Utility coalition challenges FCC 6 GHz proposal AWWA, the Edison Electric Institute, American Gas Association, American Public Power Association, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Nuclear Energy Institute and the Utilities Technology Council submitted into the 6 GHz docket of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a report titled “ Impact of Proposed Wi-Fi Operations on Microwave Links At 6 GHz ”. The study focused on the Houston metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and considered interference from residential and outdoor Wi-Fi access points and for Wi-Fi adjacent channel emissions. The study demonstrates that deployment of unlicensed wireless networks within th e 6 GHz band as currently proposed by the FCC would cause all point-to-point links in the Houston MSA to experience unacceptable levels of interference. Interference disrupts or delays transmissions being sent over wireless networks. Interference on energy and water utility industry communications systems can cause operational problems. The coalition recommended that the FCC use these findings to create a practical, nationwide framework for future use of the 6 GHz band that is faithful to the FCC’s purposes as stated in the proposed rule, “to permit unlicensed devices to operate in the band (or parts of it) in furtherance of the deployment of 5G technologies while simultaneously avoiding harmful and potentially disastrous interference to incumbent [critical infrastructure] and public safety users.” AWWA provides updated overview of regulations AWWA’s most recent Regulatory Overview from the government affairs office provides an update of current federal activities affecting the drinking water community, plus insights on policy changes coming. This latest update discusses the background and status of regulatory activities under the Safe Drinking Water Act, Toxic Substances Control Act, Clean Water Act and other statutes. It also provides information on recently passed or current major legislation in development, such as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020.