ACE22 sessions providing government affairs focus A number of technical sessions at AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE22) next week will provide a focus on government affairs issues from infrastructure finance to contaminants. In addition, AWWA’s government affairs body, known as the Water Utility Council, will meet from 1-5 p.m. CDT Monday to discuss a host of regulatory and legislative issues. Here are some key sessions: 3:30-5 p.m. Monday, June 13 - 'The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021: A Sea of Change in Federal Investment in Water.' Speakers will be WIFIA Program Director Jorianne Jernberg; Deirdre Finn, executive director of the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities; and AWWA Legislative Director Tommy Holmes. 8:30-11 a.m. Tuesday, June 14 - “Understanding the new Build America, Buy America requirements.” Speakers will be Kiri Anderer, senior environmental engineer for the drinking water state revolving loan fund program; Deirdre Finn, executive director of the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities; and T.J. Stroebl, of Kurita Water and chair of AWWA’s Manufacturers/Associates Council. 3-4:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 14 - “UCMR5 and PFAS: Requirements and Tools for Drinking Water Systems.” Speakers will be Samantha Black, HDR water and wastewater engineer; Dr. Lauren Weinrich, principal scientist for American Water Company; and AWWA Regulatory Technical Manager Chris Moody. AWWA, AMWA: Asbestos ban will affect chlorine supply AWWA and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), in a joint letter to a U.S. Senate committee, warned that proposed legislation and regulations banning asbestos could have a devastating effect on chlorine supplies for disinfection of water by U.S. drinking water utilities. AWWA had sent a call for data to its members recently and the information gleaned from that greatly reinforced the letter’s message. That was coupled with data from the Chlorine Institute showing approximately 26% of the chlorine products used for water and wastewater treatment are produced by a handful of chlor-alkali facilities that use asbestos-based diaphragms. Legislation before Congress - ( S.4244 and H.R. 7810 ) - and a rulemaking proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would ban this use of asbestos in chlor-alkali production within two to three years. It is estimated it will cost $1.8 billion to transition nine facilities to non-asbestos diaphragms or cell membranes. It should be noted that those technologies are dependent on perfluorinated compounds, adding additional uncertainty to private sector investment in the recommended change in production technology. The short transition period for switching chlorine production methods and/or building new capacity is expected to directly impact the water sector - and customers – with increased cost and supply disruptions. AWWA encourages water systems that have not already commented on the proposed asbestos rule to do so by July 13. Utilities should also contact their members of Congress, especially those serving on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and the House Committee on Energy and Commerce . DHS warns of heightened national threat environment U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas issued a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin on Tuesday, warning of a continued, heightened threat environment across the United States, primarily from, “lone offenders and small groups motivated by a range of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances.” In the coming months, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expects the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets. These targets could include critical infrastructure; public gatherings; faith-based institutions; schools; racial, ethnic and religious minorities; government facilities and personnel; the media; and perceived ideological opponents. The bulletin encourages the public to report any suspicious activity or threats of violence to local law enforcement, FBI Field Offices , or a local Fusion Center . The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, National Security Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation published a joint Cybersecurity Advisory about how the People’s Republic of China’s state-sponsored cyber actors continue to exploit publicly known vulnerabilities in order to establish a broad infrastructure network. The advisory details the targeting and compromise of major telecommunications companies and network service provider infrastructures. It also describes the top vulnerabilities - primarily “Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures” - associated with network devices routinely exploited by the cyber actors since 2020. Leaders at organizations of all sizes should ensure their teams apply available patches to their systems, disable unnecessary ports and protocols, replace end-of-life infrastructure, and implement a centralized patch management system. UCMR5 deadlines looming Large and small water systems subject to the fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) are required to take steps this year, including entering information into a reporting system known as SDWARS 5, to prepare for required sampling. EPA briefed systems on the list of action items in March. This month the agency released video tutorials to help both large and small water systems complete the actions outlined here . North Carolina moves to regulate PFAS The Department of Environmental Quality for North Carolina (NC DEQ) released an Action Strategy for PFAS on June 7 detailing ongoing and future efforts aimed at addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The Action Strategy includes a focus on drinking water testing, characterizing priority compounds and their health effects, and proposing standards for groundwater, surface water, wastewater discharges, and drinking water. NC DEQ is to begin development of standards this year, with timelines for proposal and final rules not yet announced. EPA releases data on PFAS thermal treatments EPA released a compendium of research on PFAS destruction efficacy of a number of thermal treatments. The database is not a guidance document, but it illustrates the data available to EPA’s solid waste program and the U.S. Department of Defense as they develop congressionally mandated guidance on PFAS disposal. One of the vexing challenges associated with PFAS is that once released into environmental media or concentrated into a media via treatment, it is not clear how to destroy the substances. As EPA moves forward to regulate PFAS under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund), risk management practices will continue to shift from moving PFAS from one media to another to destructive techniques, when possible. WIFIA closes on 12 project loans Officials at the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program announced a record 12 loan closures since May 2022, providing $1.5 billion in credit assistance for $3.4 billion in water infrastructure work. EPA said these projects will create 12,000 jobs and save borrowers across seven states more than $350 million. In addition, the WIFIA program closed on a $38 million loan in early June to Englewood, Colo. , to help the protect the city’s water system from the impacts of extreme weather events, reduce exposure to lead, and promote regulatory compliance. Utilizing WIFIA is projected to create 565 jobs and save the city $15.7 million . The 12 projects closed in May went to the following entities: Johnson County, Kansas City of Englewood, Colorado (Wastewater) City of Gresham, Oregon and Rockwood Water People’s Utility District, Oregon Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts City of Oxnard, California DeKalb County, Georgia New Jersey Infrastructure Bank Howard County, Maryland Medford Water Commission, Oregon City of Englewood, Colorado (Drinking water) Video conference on cybersecurity available The Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) at the Federation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) has made available online a recording of a recent discussion of cybersecurity activity in the water sector and the FDD’s recommendations issued last November. In opening statements, U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., warned, “Knowing what we know about the cyber threats facing the water sector, this status quo simply cannot continue.” These remarks were followed by a conversation featuring Dr. Kevin Morley, AWWA; Ken Kopocis, former deputy assistant administrator for the Office of Water at EPA; and Rear Admiral (Ret.) Mark Montgomery, CCTI senior director and former executive director of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Dr. Samantha Ravich, CCTI chair and former Cyberspace Solarium Commissioner, moderated the discussion, which included considerations for establishing a co-regulatory approach to provide a foundation for cybersecurity governance in the water sector. AWWA’s Board and Water Utility Council have been advocating for this type of approach, based on a report commissioned in 2021 that recommends leveraging the model used in the electric sector. The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) research institute focusing on foreign policy and national security.