U.S. House Democrats unveil $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill Last week, U.S. House Democrats released their $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, the “ Moving Forward Act .” The bill primarily targets surface transportation and green infrastructure but includes $25 billion for drinking water initiatives. The legislation provides $500 million per year for a new per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) infrastructure grant program, which requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to award grants to community water systems to install eligible treatment technologies. The bill also reauthorizes the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund through 2025 and increases the program’s funding gradually to $5.5 billion by 2024. The legislation reauthorizes programs to test for lead in schools and childcare facilities, replace drinking water fountains and provide for technical assistance. The Moving Forward Act is likely to be a nonstarter in the Senate because of its price tag and its overall focus on climate change. House Democrats acknowledge the bill isn’t going to become law in 2020, but it is a preview of what their legislative priorities will be if the White House and Senate change hands next year. AWWA hosting June 30 virtual presidential gavel passing AWWA President-Elect Melissa Elliott will receive the presidential gavel from President Jim Williams during a virtual ceremony on Tues., June 30 at 1 p.m. MT. The event, which usually concludes AWWA’s Annual Conference and Exposition (ACE), will be held virtually this year due to the event’s cancellation. Registration to attend this event is required . After its conclusion, the video will be available for on-demand viewing on AWWA.org. USDA offers new opportunities for source water protection The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is implementing language from the last Farm Bill to prioritize source water protection within its agricultural conservation programs. NRCS is currently seeking collaborations with stakeholders (including water utilities) to identify the highest priority source water protection areas in each state. These designations will assist in the deployment of millions of dollars of agricultural conservation practices that will ultimately benefit source waters. To assist utilities in engaging on this exciting opportunity, AWWA has put together a memo explaining the current opportunity with NRCS. The service’s state offices need to report their priority areas to headquarters in September; therefore, early outreach is essential to success. Contact Adam Carpenter in AWWA’s Washington, D.C., office with any questions. The Guardian and Consumer Reports team up on water series Water utilities should be aware that The Guardian and Consumer Reports are partnering on a series of articles titled “America’s Water Crisis.” The first, published earlier this week, discussed the water affordability issue and included a commissioned analysis of water and wastewater rates in 12 U.S. cities. The analysis showed rates have increased by an average of 80 percent between 2010 and 2018 “with more than two-fifths of residents in some cities living in neighborhoods with unaffordable bills.” AWWA offers several resources on its Affordability resource page . The next story in the series focused on arsenic in a bottled water brand. Water groups seeking examples of local lead service line partnerships AWWA and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agency, in collaboration with the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative (LSLR Collaborative) , are seeking successful examples of local non-governmental organizations assisting in implementing lead service line replacement. Active engagement in lead service line replacement includes such activities as building community awareness, contacting individual households, conducting surveys for lead services, facilitating financial assistance programs, assisting renters in engaging landlords and supporting ancillary plumbing improvements. The LSLR Collaborative hopes to highlight successful models on its website and in upcoming webinars. If you or a community you serve is engaged in such a partnership, contact Steve Via , AWWA’s director of federal relations, at 202-326-6130. EPA needs NDWAC volunteers EPA is seeking volunteers to serve on the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) . NDWAC is the federal advisory committee that provides advice to the EPA administrator on matters related to implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act. Interested individuals need to apply by July 13. EPA finalizes PFAS regulations EPA finalized two regulatory actions for PFAS this week. The first rule is the statutory implementation of the addition of certain PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory in accordance with the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA 2020). Under this rule, 172 PFAS are listed, and applicable releases of more than 100 pounds annually for these individual compounds must be reported to EPA. Upon pre-publication of the final rule, AWWA encouraged the removal of a de minimis exemption for releases based on the congressional intent of NDAA 2020. However, the final rule has not been changed, and EPA contends the rule is appropriate as is. AWWA is working with members of Congress to include corrective language in NDAA 2021. Under the final rule, applicable facilities will be required to submit information by July 1, 2021, for calendar year 2020. Additionally, EPA finalized a long-anticipated Significant New Use Rule for certain PFAS. This rule was originally proposed in 2015 and the agency issued a supplemental proposal earlier this year to consider exemption of articles, a de minimis exemption, and a safe harbor provision. The final rule has implemented the article exemption but bypassed the implementation of the de minimis exemption and safe harbor provision. This rule places restrictions on the manufacture and import of certain PFAS, requiring an agency evaluation of reasonable exposure before authorizing significant new uses. Colorado PFAS sampling results available The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) issued a press release Tuesday announcing the availability of results from the 2020 PFAS Sampling project . Under the project, CDPHE offered free testing to public water systems across the state for 18 individual PFAS. Nearly half of all public water systems within the state participated, representing 74 percent of the state’s population. “The current results show that no drinking water tested above the EPA health advisory” for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), according to the release. As part of the project, the state also performed surface water testing and determined that industrial entities with permits to discharge wastewater to surface waters played a role in the PFAS occurrence near Aurora, where total PFAS levels in Sand Creek increased from 13 ppt to 77 ppt. Navigable waters rule creating complex legal web Petitions seeking to stay and turn back the federal Navigable Water Rule are beginning to play out across the United States, with two courts offering differing rulings last week. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California allowed the rule to take effect (California v. Wheeler, N.D. Cal., No. 3:20-cv-03005). The court found that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a sufficient basis under the Administrative Procedures Act to warrant preventing the revised definition of a water of the United States to take effect. More than 1,200 miles away, on the same day, the U.S. District Court in Denver blocked implementation of the rule in Colorado pending resolution of the case. The U.S. Department of Justice is appealing on behalf of EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers. Legal actions are also underway in Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington. Court actions continue in fluoride case In another legal action (Food & Water Watch, Inc. et al v. EPA, N.D. Cal. No. 17-cv-02162- EMC) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the court found that the court record had expanded well beyond the initial presentation of process and facts. Consequently, on Aug. 6 the court will hear what burden would be associated with the plaintiffs filing a new petition. The court will then weigh that option versus ruling that EPA erred in rejecting the plaintiff’s petition. The latter option would initiate a review of the risk posed by fluoride under the Toxic Substances Control Act, particularly the potential risk posed by fluoridation of community water supplies. Forest Service to streamline some uses of forested lands A recent memo from the USDA sets forth a new initiative for the management of USDA Forest Service lands. USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue seeks to streamline environmental reviews and increase the use of Forest Service lands for certain activities, including increased harvesting. Depending on the situation, these activities could either improve or degrade water quality and quantity. Many forested areas are overgrown, and thinning will increase their overall health over time. Forest thinning also reduces wildfire risks. Because of the variability in outcomes, utilities with source waters originating from federal forested lands should consider contacting their local Forest Service station with any concerns.