AWWA seeks member support on PFAS rulemaking AWWA is seeking assistance from membership as it develops comments in response to the recent drinking water standards proposed for six types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That appearance in the Federal Register initiated a 60-day clock for public stakeholders to review and comment on the rulemaking, meaning comments will be due May 30. EPA will host a public hearing May 4 where interested stakeholders can provide oral comments on the rule. AWWA is reviewing the rule and associated supporting documentation provided by EPA and intends to submit comments. As part of these comments, AWWA is requesting support from sections and members, including: Submitting a request for public comment period extension to the EPA using this template . The completed template will be sent to your email and can be submitted to EPA in the Docket. Completing the following survey on existing or anticipated PFAS treatment costs, recent changes to construction costs, and implementation timelines for treatment facility projects; Registering and attending EPA’s public hearing on the proposal, and then sharing your perspective on the rule and its impact to water systems; and Contacting Chris Moody , AWWA’s regulatory technical manager, with any feedback on the proposed rulemaking for inclusion in AWWA’s public comments. AWWA members take to Capitol Hill More than 140 AWWA members from 40 states took AWWA’s messages on federal issues to lawmakers’ offices during AWWA’s annual Water Matters! Fly-In on March 22-23. The four key topics they discussed were: An exemption for water utilities from Superfund liability for PFAS contamination ; Effective implementation of federal water infrastructure loan programs; Improved cybersecurity measures for the water sector; and Improvements to conservation provisions in the Farm Bill that affect water quality. Overall, delegates reported favorable reactions by members of Congress and their staffs to the association’s requests. Dovetailing onto the Fly-In, U.S. Reps. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., and Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., on Tuesday introduced the Investing in Our Communities Act, bipartisan legislation that would restore tax-exempt advance refunding for municipal bonds, one of AWWA’s requests. “This is a complicated finance issue that has a simple end result – saving American taxpayers money,” said Ruppersberger, who co-founded the bipartisan House Municipal Finance Caucus. “By empowering local governments to refinance outstanding bonds for projects such as new roads, schools, hospitals and fire stations, we reduce their borrowing costs and free up resources for other community improvements. We create even more jobs and, ultimately, reduce the need to raise taxes.” With this being a new session of Congress - with several new members - simply educating them about AWWA and what drinking water utilities do was important this year. AWWA Section leaders coordinate who will represent states at the Fly-In. It has been an annual event for AWWA since 2002, except for the pandemic year of 2020. Planning has begun for next year’s Fly-In, though no date has been set. Changes to CCR proposed EPA is proposing to modify the federal regulation for Consumer Confidence Reports to make it conform to requirements in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, and to make other modifications. The agency stated its intent is for this rule to take effect in time for the 2025 CCR distribution (using 2024 data), meaning the first compliance date for most community water systems (CWS) will be April 1, 2025 (for wholesalers providing data to consecutive systems) or July 1, 2025 (for those directly delivering CCRs). If finalized in its current form, this proposal will: Require a second delivery of the CCR for larger CWS Systems serving a population of 10,000 or more will be required to send their CCR on the current schedule (delivery by no later than July 1, using data from the prior calendar year). In addition to that delivery, utilities will need to make a second delivery between July 2 and December 31. Some requirements for the second report are unclear in the proposal, but it will require updated information about any new violations, action level exceedances, and updated unregulated contaminant monitoring rule data. Require new statements about corrosion control and update some required language EPA has proposed some revisions to required language and added a statement about corrosion control efforts. In most cases, EPA is explicitly allowing state primacy agencies to allow alternate wording. Require CWS and state primacy agencies to provide translation assistance for Limited English Proficiency consumers and others requesting an alternate format. The requirements as proposed would require all systems serving more than 100,000 people to develop and submit to their primacy agency a plan on how to assist those needing translation services. All CWS are proposed to “make a reasonable effort to provide the reports in an accessible format to anyone who requests an accommodation” but does not elaborate on what would be reasonable. Codify the electronic delivery provisions into the regulation Since 2013, CWSs have had the option to perform the direct delivery requirements of the CCR by providing a link, email, or other “direct URL” so long as it is sent to all direct (bill paying) customers. The rule codifies this with little change from the 2013 implementation memo . Create a ban on “false or misleading statements or representations” within the CCR. The example EPA has used in the proposal is “… stating that the water is ‘safe’ may not accurately reflect the safety of the water…” This provision may have wide-reaching effects on how utilities communicate with customers. AWWA encourages members to consider how their utility’s public affairs strategy may be altered by a ‘don’t say safe’ rule, in which saying your water is safe is potentially a Safe Drinking Water Act rule violation. This is not an exhaustive list of provisions within the revised rule. For example, it also requires primacy agencies to provide all compliance monitoring data to EPA (currently only violations are sent routinely). CWSs are encouraged to review the proposal in detail and include regulatory/compliance, laboratory, and public affairs personnel in that review, as this rule is likely to impact all of these aspects of utility operations. EPA will provide additional information through webinars on the proposed changes April 12 (directed at the public) and April 20 (directed at water professionals). The agency is taking public comments on the proposed changes for 45 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register at EPA-HQ-OW-2022-0260 . As of this publication, the proposal has not yet been posted. A prepublication copy of the changes is available from EPA. AWWA will comment on this proposal, so contact Adam Carpenter , energy and environmental policy manager, in the Washington, D.C., office with any thoughts or feedback (our most recent comments from earlier in this process can be found here ). All CWSs are also encouraged to comment directly to EPA through the Regulations.gov docket. HHS seeking feedback on low-income assistance The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking assistance from community water systems (CWS) in evaluating administration of the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) via an online survey by April 22. LIHWAP was a COVID-related emergency relief measure and was administered by the Office of Community Services at HHS. That office distributed funds to states, who in turn are providing funds to help with low-income customer arrearages and in some states, ongoing assistance. Current funding expires this year, but in case the program is extended or made permanent, HHS is seeking this input from water systems. A full copy of the questions is available here to help organize your responses, however, all responses must be completed in the online survey . HHS is aware that some of the questions may not be applicable to all respondents and/or may require additional explanations, for which there is the option to skip not applicable questions as well as several opportunities to provide comments throughout. FEMA releases new hazard mitigation guide The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued new guidance aimed at reducing complexities and increase accessibility to resilience grant programs. This is the first update to FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Program and Policy Guide since 2015. State, local, tribal and territorial governments can use the guide to help them go through the Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant lifecycle process. FEMA’s mitigation grant programs provide funding for actions that address risks to and reduce disaster suffering from events like wildfires, drought, extreme heat, hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding. FEMA is offering webinars and developed materials that offer more information about the updated guide. One such webinar will be offered April 13 from 3-4 p.m. EDT .