Water associations issue affordability report AWWA, the Water Environment Federation and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies have issued a report outlining a new approach for evaluating the affordability of water services to customers. The report builds on a study done by the National Academy of Public Administration in 2017 that made recommendations about how and why EPA should revise its methodology for evaluating affordability in water programs. This new report describes an alternative methodology to the agency’s current reliance on median household income as a primary determinant of affordability in regulatory decisions. EPA staff is working on revisions to the agency’s guidance documents on affordability. The water associations’ report is aimed at assisting that effort and promoting dialogue with EPA. The report and its summary were sent to congressional staff and EPA. A consulting team of representatives from Raftelis, Corona Environmental Consulting and the Galardi Rothstein Group completed the report. Mehan testifies about PFAS before Senate committee Just one week after testifying before a U.S. House committee looking at issues surrounding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), AWWA Executive Director for Government Affairs Tracy Mehan provided similar testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. PFAS is likely to remain a hot topic through 2019 at least. So far, about 20 bills have been introduced in the House and Senate addressing various aspects of PFAS, from Department of Defense issues to mandating issuance of a maximum contaminant level for PFAS. In the House hearing, much of the discussion was over whether a small number of specific PFAS compounds or all PFAS should be regulated. The Senate hearing was a bit more nuanced, with some recognition that PFAS compounds had played important roles in firefighting and crucial manufacturing processes. Don’t be surprised if the House passes sweeping PFAS legislation while the Senate passes a bill mandating that EPA issue drinking water maximum contaminant levels for at least two specific compounds – PFOS and PFOA – without specifying those levels. Administration’s latest ‘Unified Agenda’ targets PFAS, lead, perchlorate The U.S. Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs has released the Trump Administration’s spring 2019 Unified Agenda, which includes action on PFAS. For EPA, the Agency Rule List includes more than 150 individual rule items. Regarding PFAS, the agenda includes four actions: safe drinking water act regulatory determinations; listing PFAS as a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act; addition of certain PFAS to the Toxics Release Inventory; and amending the Significant New Use Rules regarding PFAS. Other noteworthy actions include regulatory revisions to the drinking water lead and copper rule and proposed national primary drinking water regulation for perchlorate. NRCS issues source water protection guidance The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has released guidance to its state offices for implementing source water protection measures in 2019, as directed under the farm bill enacted last year. AWWA successfully advocated for the latest farm bill to make source water protection a high priority for agricultural conservation practices for environmental and public health benefit. The guidance document provides instruction for the NRCS state conservationists to identify priority source water protection areas in every state and focus resources to protect sources of drinking water within them. Utilities are encouraged to contact their state conservationist to discuss priority source water areas and concerns that could be addressed with agricultural conservation and to work with their state technical committee, which provides feedback to the NRCS on many conservation issues. AWWA’s Source Water Protection page provides resources on how to work with NRCS and utilize agricultural conservation programs for source water protection. EPA chief signs off on proposed perchlorate rule EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a proposed rule regulating perchlorate in drinking water and submitted it for publication in the Federal Register for a 60-day public comment period (it has not yet appeared in the Register). The agency is seeking comment on a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for perchlorate to establish a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) and a health-based Maximum Contaminant Level Goal (MCLG) at 56 micrograms per liter. In addition, EPA is seeking comment on three alternative regulatory options: • An MCL and MCLG for perchlorate set at 18 micrograms per liter • An MCL and MCLG for perchlorate set at 90 micrograms per liter • Withdrawal of the agency’s 2011 determination to regulate perchlorate in drinking water AWWA will prepare comments based on prior assessments of EPA’s approach and any new materials prepared by the agency to support the proposed rule. Water council seeks better coordination in emergencies The Water Sector Coordinating Council is recommending that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and EPA work together to develop a more targeted approach to supporting the water sector within FEMA’s National Response Framework. The current process is very disaggregated; multiple federal agencies have differing roles and responsibilities, which impedes decision-making and coordination. The council is a policy and coordination body for the drinking water and wastewater sectors to interact with government and other sectors on critical infrastructure and resilience issues. FEMA has proposed revisions to the National Response Framework in the creation of Emergency Support Function (ESF) #14 – Cross-Sector Business and Infrastructure Annex. The new ESF #14 is intended to support coordination of cross-sector operations -- including stabilization of key supply chains and community lifelines -- among infrastructure owners and operators, businesses and their government partners. FEMA is hosting a webinar on the framework on June 19 for the private sector. Liquid aluminum sulfate antitrust litigation settled A class-action lawsuit against certain liquid aluminum sulfate (alum) manufacturers has been settled. For information about the settlements, please visit the court-authorized website . (This site functions in Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge browsers but may have errors with other internet browsers.) Utilities that may be eligible for payment from this settlement have until June 13 to file a claim. Information regarding filing of claims can be found here . Utilities may file claims directly following the instructions and are not required to hire outside service providers to do so. There are service providers that utilities can contact to procure assistance with filing claims and other services related to filing claims. Class Action Capital (unaffiliated with AWWA) is one such service provider and can be contacted through its website or by email .