Changes to drinking water law in S. 3021: risk, resiliency requirements updated On Oct. 23, President Trump signed into law S. 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act. While water infrastructure indeed is a main feature of the bill, portions of S.3021 also make significant changes to a wide range of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s regulatory and program requirements. We are going to highlight a few of these key changes in a series of Insider articles beginning today. The updates and revisions to water security in S. 3021 direct community water systems serving more than 3,300 people to conduct risk and resilience assessments that address both malevolent and natural hazard threats. This follows the Bioterrorism Act of 2002, which required drinking water utilities to conduct vulnerability assessments that were focused on impacts a terrorist attack, both physical and cyber, could have the continuity of operations. This assessment must be updated every five years and accompanied by an emergency response plan. The risk and resiliency requirements are in Section 2013 of the bill. Compliance with the bill requires a utility to submit a letter of certification to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stating that the utility has performed the risk and resilience assessment and emergency response plan, based on a staggered schedule according to population served. Under the new provision, the EPA is required to return or destroy the vulnerability assessments previously submitted to the agency under the 2002 legislation. Below are the initial compliance deadlines. Population served Risk & Resilience Assessment Emergency Response Plan 100,000 or more March 31, 2020 Sept. 30, 2020 50,000 or more but less than 100,000 Dec. 31, 2020 June 30, 2021 Greater than 3,300 but less than 50,000 June 30, 2021 Dec. 30, 2021 Congress also directed the EPA to recognize the use of voluntary consensus standards by utilities for compliance with these new requirements. Standards prepared by AWWA over the past decade that cover the elements in the new statutory provisions include ANSI/AWWA J100-10 (R13) Risk and Resilience Management of Water and Wastewater Systems, ANSI/AWWA G430-14 Security Practices for Operation and Management and ANSI/AWWA G440-17 Emergency Preparedness Practices. Utilities that have already been using this suite of standards should be well on their way to compliance. EPA invites 39 projects to apply for WIFIA loan The EPA announced this week that 39 projects from 16 states and the District of Columbia had been invited to proceed to the formal application phase of seeking loan from the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act program. These entities will be eligible to receive WIFIA loans of up to $5 billion total to help finance more than $10 billion in infrastructure investments and create up to 155,000 jobs. The loan amount requests range from $5 million to $617 million. Because WIFIA supports up to 49 percent of a project’s costs, this means the projects represent $11 million to $1.3 billion in project infrastructure investment. The agency received 62 letters of interest from both public and private entities in response to the 2018 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability. Of the selected projects, 12 projects will reduce lead or other drinking water contaminants and 37 will address aging infrastructure. 8 prospective borrowers submitted letters of interest in response to the 2017 NOFA, resubmitted them for 2018, and are now invited to proceed in the 2018 funding round. In anticipation of the 2019 WIFIA NOFA, the EPA is offering in-person information sessions around the country and webinars to prospective borrowers, and private and non-government organizations who support prospective borrowers. To learn more about these information sessions or to register, visit WIFIA’s information session section on the website. EPA hosting webinar on weather, vulnerable communities The EPA will host a two-hour audio webcast beginning at 1 p.m. EST on Nov. 8 called “Building Resilience in Partnership with Vulnerable Communities.” The webcast will look at environmental justice factors contributing to the vulnerability of communities to respond and recover from extreme weather events or natural disasters involving water. The agency notes, “Environmental justice recognizes that some communities experience higher exposure to local water pollution and degraded local waterways on top of other social factors that increase vulnerability.” Advance registration is required. Health Canada closing 1-4 Dioxane comment period Health Canada’s public comment period will close Nov. 9 for a proposed maximum acceptable concentration (MAC) of 50 µg/L for 1,4-Dioxane in drinking water. 1,4-Dioxane has been used as a stabilizer for solvents, namely for 1,1,1- trichloroethane, as well as for several other industrial and commercial applications. In contrast, California’s current drinking water notification level for 1-4 Dioxane is 1 μg/L. It was set in 2010 at an estimated 1-in-a-million risk level. UCMR4 data released The EPA has begun releasing the data that’s being gathered under the federal Unregulated Contaminants Monitoring Rule 4. It’s still early in the process, so there are not yet any revealing trends. Utilities and the public do have access to observations compiled as of the EPA’s October 2018 data release, so utilities should be prepared to answer questions that may come up as a result of the data release. The EPA will continue to release data over the balance of the UCMR4 monitoring period. OSHA releases top 10 violations Officials at the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration have released their list of the top 10 violations seen by the agency in federal fiscal year 2018. They are as follows: 1. Fall Protection—General Requirements: 29 CFR 1926.501 2. Hazard Communication: 29 CFR 1910.1200 3. Scaffolds—General Requirements: 29 CFR 1926.451 4. Respiratory Protection: 29 CFR 1910.134 5. Lockout/Tagout: 29 CFR 1910.147 6. Ladders: 29 CFR 1926.1053 7. Powered Industrial Trucks: 29 CFR 1910.178 8. Fall Protection—Training Requirements: 29 CFR 1926.503 9. Machine Guarding: 29 CFR 1926.212 10. Personal Protective and Lifesaving Equipment—Eye and Face Protection: 29 CFR 1926.102 There were about 32,266 of these violations in Fiscal Year 2018. Note that while trench safety violations did not make the top 10 in 2018, OSHA is sufficiently concerned about injuries and deaths from inadequate safety measures to make trench safety an education focus in 2018. DOE seeks improvement to desalination, other technologies The U.S. Department of Energy has announced its Water Security Grand Challenge. The Challenge will guide much of the DOE’s water-energy work over the upcoming years. The DOE is to create a series of “prizes, competitions, early-stage research and development, and other programs” to help meet the overall goals by 2030, which include: 1. Cost-competitive desalination technologies 2. Reuse of energy sector wastewaters as resources 3. Near-zero water impacts of new thermoelectric power plants (and reduced freshwater intensity within existing power plants) 4. Doubling municipal wastewater resource recovery 5. Development of “small, modular energy-water systems” for several purposes Many details on how the DOE will use these tools are not yet known, but regardless of the methods, it is likely that there will be opportunities for water sector involvement through research teams, demonstration pilots, and other opportunities as the program begins to unfold. Applications sought for student design competition The EPA is seeking applicants for its 16th annual P3 Awards, A National Student Design Competition Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet. This collegiate competition promotes the use of scientific and engineering principles in creating innovative projects to address environmental challenges and develop real-world solutions. It is seeking applications in the following research areas: air quality, safe and sustainable water resources, sustainable and healthy communities, and chemical safety. The deadline for applying is Dec. 11. The EPA will host an informational webinar on the program and the application process at 2-3:30 p.m. EST on Nov. 8.