Seeking end-users of AWWA's Cybersecurity Use-Case Tool AWWA is looking for utilities to participate in an important survey that will ensure updates to the Process Control System Security Guidance for the Water Sector and the associated Use-Case Tool are in alignment with new requirements enacted in America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA 2018). AWWA is seeking feedback from organizations that have previously used the Use-Case Tool and from any system that must comply with AWIA 2018. This survey is estimated to take less than five minutes to complete. At a minimum, at least one survey respondent will be selected to join the project team for a Subject Matter Expert/End-User workshop currently planned for early May. Senate confirms Wheeler to head EPA The U.S. Senate confirmed Andrew Wheeler to take the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a 52-47 vote Feb. 28. Wheeler has been acting administrator since July 2018, following the resignation of Scott Pruitt. He was confirmed as deputy administrator last April. Wheeler is a former EPA employee who became a high-level staffer for the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works and then a lobbyist on environmental and energy issues. The Ohio native holds a law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, a master’s degree in business administration from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and a bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. EPA closes on $200 million WIFIA loan to Baltimore EPA announced it has closed on a $202 million loan under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to the City of Baltimore for system-wide upgrades to its wastewater and stormwater system. The loan supports more than 20 percent of the $942 million project. Maryland’s Department of the Environment will finance an additional $280 million with its Clean Water Act revolving loan fund. Another $47.5 million will come from the state’s Bay Restoration Grant Fund. EPA estimates that the WIFIA loan will save the city up to $40 million. AWWA led efforts to enact WIFIA in the Water Resources Development Act of 2014. The program provides low-cost loans for water infrastructure projects outside the typical size or scope of other programs. On a related note, at the Utility Management Conference in Nashville this week, an EPA speaker said the agency is seeing a 100-1 loan leverage ratio on the current portfolio of WIFIA loans. That’s great news for the taxpayers and U.S. water infrastructure. EPA webinars on American Iron and Steel rules EPA’s water finance office is holding a webinar on compliance with American Iron and Steel requirements in federal loan programs for state agency staff and potential borrowers from 2-3:30 p.m. EST next Tuesday. A similar webinar for manufacturers, suppliers and contractors will follow at 2-3:30 p.m. EST Wednesday. AWWA provides feedback on Farm Bill, source water protection AWWA provided significant comments for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) listening session Feb. 26 as that agency gears up to implement the 2018 Farm Bill with its added focus on source water protection. Video of the session is available on USDA’s website , with AWWA’s comments beginning at approximately 4 hours and 23 minutes into the recording. AWWA submitted more detailed written comments on March 1. The 2018 Farm Bill provides new opportunities to promote the protection of sources of drinking water through agricultural conservation programs. The efforts of AWWA and partners resulted in several significant improvements to federal conservation programs, such as a requirement that the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) spends at least 10 percent of conservation dollars on source water protection. That adds up to an astonishing $4 billion over the next 10 years. Ensuring effective source water protection through agricultural conservation programs will require utilities in all states to interact with their NRCS state conservationists and find ways to focus these dollars where they are most needed. See the AWWA Source Water Protection page for resources and contact Adam Carpenter in the AWWA Washington, D.C. office with any questions. Michigan finds PFAS in 10 percent of samples The first-ever statewide survey of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality found the substances in about 10 percent of the 1,500 sites sampled. The department released the results of its $1.7 million study Feb. 25. The study looked at 1,114 public water systems, 461 schools with their own wells, and 17 tribal water systems. The study found less than 10 parts per trillion at seven percent of the systems tested, and three percent of the systems had between 10 and 70 parts per trillion. Michigan set a cleanup standard for PFAS in groundwater of 70 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), individually or combined. Michigan EPA and Defense Department testify on PFAS The Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing to examine the Trump Administration’s regulatory efforts related to so-called “forever chemicals” like PFAS. David Ross, EPA assistant administrator for water, and Maureen Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the environment, testified on behalf of the Administration. Democrats on the committee accused the Administration of slow-walking regulatory action and called for the chemicals to be listed as hazardous substances. Ross defended EPA’s actions and explained that a national standard would require additional financial burdens on drinking water utilities, which would ultimately be passed along to customers. Ross also reiterated EPA’s intention to make a final decision on new PFAS regulations by the end of this year. Committee Democrats also expressed concern to Sullivan about high levels of PFAS contamination near military bases caused by frequent use of firefighting foam in training exercises. Sullivan noted that the Pentagon no longer requires foam containing PFAS and that its budget is inadequate to address cleanup at sites around the country. On the same day, Senate Democrats sent a letter to four agencies requesting documents related to EPA’s recently-released PFAS Action Plan, questioning why cleanup guidelines have been stalled in interagency review at the White House for months. WaterSense comment period closing soon America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 requires EPA to 'consider for review and revise, if necessary, any WaterSense performance criteria adopted before January 1, 2012' and to do so by the end of year. The current open comment period ends March 15; specifications under review include tank-type toilets, lavatory faucets and faucet accessories, showerheads, flushing urinals, and weather-based irrigation controllers. Comments should be sent to email@example.com . Public notice for manganese EPA guidance to states for the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule monitoring is leading some states to revisit public notification requirements for manganese. This week Iowa became the latest state to indicate that manganese observations greater than 300 ug/L would trigger Tier 1 public notification. Iowa indicates that it is developing a baseline monitoring program for manganese in public water supplies this year. In Iowa, as of April 3 certified laboratories will be required to report sample values above 300 ug/L to the state within 24 hours. The EPA health advisory for manganese was published in 2004; Health Canada proposed a health-based drinking water standard of 100 ug/L in 2016 and is expected to finalize that standard early this year.