U.S. House panel passes three drinking water bills The U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce approved and sent to the full House three drinking water bills Wednesday, one containing water infrastructure provisions which are likely to become components of President Biden’s American Job’s Plan, and one bill that would force adoption of a drinking water regulation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bills include some problematic provisions which AWWA and our partner associations detailed in a letter to the committee. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and National Association of Counties followed up with a letter echoing the water associations’ concerns. The first bill , the “Assistance, Quality, and Affordability (AQUA) Act of 2021,” is likely to serve as the primary drinking water portion of the House’s water infrastructure proposal. The bill includes more than $4 billion per year for the drinking water state revolving fund (SRF) program, $45 billion over 10 years for lead service line replacement and $5 billion over 10 years for PFAS treatment. The second bill , the “Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act of 2021,” would establish a permanent grant program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist low-income customers with their water bills. As written, the bill includes only customers of community water systems owned or operated by a municipality or a state, so customers of privately-owned utilities would be excluded. The final bill , the “PFAS Action Act of 2021,” would require EPA to promulgate a primary drinking water regulation for PFOS and PFOA, at minimum, within two years. The bill would also require the agency to designate PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances under CERCLA within one year, as well as determine whether to designate all PFAS as hazardous substances within five years. The House is also working on a separate wastewater infrastructure bill, H.R. 1915 . The Senate passed its own drinking water and wastewater infrastructure bill, S. 914 , this spring, but it focuses on infrastructure investment and aid to low-income customers. It does not contain regulatory provisions. EPA releases cybersecurity fact sheets for water systems In the wake of recent cyberattacks on U.S. utilities and institutions, EPA released fact sheets on cybersecurity for drinking water and wastewater systems. Three new fact sheets discuss SRF eligibilities related to drought , emergency response plans and nitrates . Each fact sheet includes several case studies where such funds were used for projects related to these eligibilities. The agency also released a new fact sheet that demonstrates how wastewater SRF funds can be used to fund cybersecurity practices and measures at publicly owned treatment works. It also outlines resources for free vulnerability assessments and cybersecurity trainings and describes how to report a cybersecurity incident. Webinar focuses on unregulated DBPs Travis Archer (Oklahoma DEQ), Chad Seidel (Corona Environmental Consultants) and Jimmy Chen (EPA) were the featured speakers on yesterday’s EPA microbial and disinfection byproducts (MDBP) webinar. Archer and Seidel both emphasized the site-specific solutions required when Stage 2 Disinfection and Disinfection Byproduct Rule compliance becomes challenging. Recurring questions included more regular data on DBP and secondary disinfection residual levels at the turnout. Recommendations from OKDEQ included requirements for more total organic carbon removal and setting lower acceptable DBP concentration at wholesaler turnouts, rather than encouraging the use of chloramines. EPA announced the topics for upcoming webinars in the series : distribution systems and finished water storage (July 15), source water considerations and precursor removal (August 10), sanitary surveys and water safety plans (September 29) and a series summary (November 18). Upcoming forum to focus on what’s next for PFAS Considering the State of New York’s decision to lower the public health advisory limit for PFAS to 10 parts per trillion, SUEZ and the New York League of Conservation Voters will hold an online public forum entitled “What’s Next for PFAS” on Tuesday, June 29, 7-8:30 p.m. EDT. Panelists will include Tracy Mehan, AWWA’s executive director for government affairs, and Peter Grevatt, chief executive officer of The Water Research Foundation. Other panelists will include Sean Mahar of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Carol Walczyk and Chris Graziano of SUEZ. Julie Tighe of the League will moderate the forum. NWQI issues new resources The National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), a U.S. agricultural conservation program run jointly with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and EPA, recently issued several new resources to help utilities and other interested partners address source water concerns with a connection to agriculture. The NWQI Practitioner’s Guide examines the various roles that project proponents and other stakeholders fulfill, the process for setting up a NWQI project and other facets of the program. The current NWQI watersheds throughout the United States are also now posted on the Drinking Water Mapping Application to Protect Source Waters (DWMAPS) where they can be examined and overlaid with other relevant source water information. Those interested in NWQI and other Farm Bill conservation programs should contact their NRCS State Conservationist . EPA closes loan on large stormwater project EPA closed a $569 million loan to the Fargo-Moorhead Metropolitan Area Stormwater Diversion Channel Project in North Dakota. The project , a combination of related components, is aimed at controlling stormwater that threatens the metropolitan area by constructing a 30-mile channel to re-direct surplus stormwater flows and temporarily store the flows on vacant land. Another component includes modifications to 13 levees and 27 stormwater lift stations in the cities of Fargo and Moorhead. EPA estimates that the overarching project – totaling $1.3 billion in costs – will serve 245,000 people and create 4,185 jobs.