Defense bill with PFAS amendments clears House A national defense authorization bill cleared the U.S. House of Representatives on July 12 carrying a pair of amendments related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which the water community opposed. H.R. 2500 passed on a 220-197 and is now headed to a House-Senate conference because the Senate passed a notably different defense authorization act. The conference must produce a single bill that will go back to each body for a yea or nay vote without amendment. The problem amendments are slightly overlapping. One would mandate that EPA declare all PFAS hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Liability and Compensation Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund). The second would mandate that EPA add PFAS to the list of toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act and then publish effluent and pretreatment standards for PFAS. The listing would also automatically list PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA. AWWA also learned that the attorney general for the State of New York was attempting to get all state attorneys general to cosign a letter supporting the listing of PFAS under CERCLA. AWWA issued a legislative alert on this. AWWA is participating in joint efforts with other drinking water and wastewater associations to try to remove the amendments in the House-Senate conference. The issue is of concern to water utilities because drinking water utilities may have applied filtration by-products to landfills, deep wells or rural lands not realizing that PFAS may have been in them. Wastewater utilities are concerned about PFAS being in biosolids applied to farmland. Utilities could be held liable under CERCLA for substances that another entity is responsible for releasing into the environment. In a related development, new Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announced this week he had ordered the formation of a task force to address the military’s role in PFAS contamination. Also, in a hearing held by the House Oversight Subcommittee on Environment on Wednesday, environmental officials from New Jersey and New Hampshire said Congress should order EPA to use data it already has under the Toxic Substances Control Act to require manufacturers to release critical information such as known toxicity and releases of PFAS. This is a point AWWA made in testimony before the House and Senate this spring. EPA sees strong demand for WIFIA loans EPA has received 51 letters of interest for loans totaling $6.6 billion in the third round of taking such letters under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. The applicants are seeking $6.6 billion in financing. The most recent round of letters saw an increase in the percentage of letters for drinking water projects compared to wastewater and stormwater projects. Letters came from large utilities, such as Phoenix, Atlanta, New Orleans and Baltimore, and from smaller utilities, such as the City of Gallup, N.M., and the Purissima Hills Water District, Calif. The state of New Jersey’s state revolving loan fund (SRF) program is also seeking to expand the number of loans it can make by utilizing a WIFIA loan. Congress enacted WIFIA in 2014 after a strong lobbying effort by AWWA, its members and other water associations. It offers loans for projects costing at least $20 million at long-term U.S. Treasury rates for up to 49 percent of a project’s costs. Agency updates online corrosion control manual EPA has updated its online manual and templates for evaluating corrosion control techniques related to compliance with the federal Lead and Copper Rule. Agency staff say the revisions were done mainly for clarity and for addressing common technical questions the agency had received since first issuing the documents in 2016. What will be interesting to watch is how this relates the expected release later this year of a revised Lead and Copper Rule. Congress reaches bipartisan budget deal Congress reached a bipartisan budget deal this week, ending a months-long stalemate that brought the appropriations process to a halt and threatened automatic across-the-board budget cuts. The two-year deal extends the United States’ Treasury’s spending authority, commonly called the debt ceiling, and increases budget caps for both domestic and defense priorities. The measure gives the Senate Appropriations committee the green light to begin work on its FY2020 appropriations bills. The House has already passed most of its spending bills, which include full funding for WIFIA and the Drinking Water SRF, but Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) was waiting for a budget deal to give the committee a better idea of how much money it had to work with. The deal is a traditional compromise that left most in Congress disappointed in some respect, but the looming threat of automatic budget cuts has rallied support for passage. The House passed the bill this week and the Senate is expected to approve it next week before leaving town. President Trump has so far signaled support for the final product, as it would push any further budget controversies until after the 2020 election. Updated occurrence data for UCMR 4 released Data from the Fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 4) continues to roll in. Systems are halfway through the monitoring window and the most recent release this month reflects more than 21,000 unique observations from more than 2,400 public water systems. The percentage of public water systems with at least one value over the reference concentration, a health-based concentration, remains low. Two analytes occurring most frequently are the sum of five regulated haloacid acids (7.5% of systems) and manganese (1.9% of systems). Other analytes of note are quinoline (0.7% of systems), alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane (0.4% of systems) and total microcystins (0.4% of systems). Work continues on UCMR 5 for release To help prepare for next summer’s release of a draft Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 5, EPA hosted a public meeting and webinar on July 16 at which agency officials listed the analytes and the associated methods they were considering. The methods included a new drinking water method for PFAS, EPA Method 533. EPA expects to complete inter-laboratory study and publish the method in October. The Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 requires EPA to collect UCMR observations from all systems serving more than 3,300 persons and a valid sample of smaller systems if federal funding was available. This will increase the number of systems that must conduct monitoring in the next UCMR by 5,147. For full details on the UCMR 5 proposal process and the topics EPA discussed, review EPA’s presentation slides . EPA indicated that UCMR 5 is expected to be proposed summer 2020 and finalized in the winter of 2021. The laboratory approval process for UCMR 5 will begin soon after the rule is proposed next year. Risk & Resilience Certificate Program helps utilities fulfill AWIA requirements AWWA launched a Utility Risk and Resilience Certificate Program to help community water systems fulfill the requirements of America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018. This program can help utilities understand and comply with the new legislation applicable to community water systems serving at least 3,300 people. The program consists of five self-paced courses: • Facilitating Compliance with AWIA of 2018 (EL260) -- Complimentary course • Security Practices for Operation and Management (EL261) • Risk and Resilience Management for Water and Wastewater Systems (EL262) • Emergency Planning (EL263) • Cybersecurity Guidance and Use Case Tool (EL250) Additional resources are also available through EPA to assist utilities with AWIA compliance. More information can be found on EPA’s Water Resilience page . AWWA’s resources can be found on AWWA's Risk and Resilience resource page . House passes bill integrating water use to energy research The House passed H.R. 34, which means the U.S. Department of Energy integrates consideration of water issues into its energy research, development and demonstration programs and projects. Those considerations include minimizing water withdrawals, increasing water efficiency, minimizing impacts on waterways and improving understanding of the water-energy nexus. The Energy and Water Research Integration Act passed on a voice vote Tuesday. The author is Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. However, there is no companion bill in the Senate and similar legislation died in previous sessions of Congress.