Farm Bill nearing finish line The U.S. House and Senate agriculture committees announced on Thursday that they have reached an agreement in principle regarding the 2018 Farm Bill. Lawmakers are working through the technical aspects of finishing the language and bringing the bill to the floor for a vote, but the tentative agreement suggests the hard work of finding consensus has paid off. We are hopeful and optimistic that AWWA’s proposed measures to encourage source water protection will be included, but we can’t yet know with certainty. Grevatt stepping down from drinking water office Peter Grevatt, EPA’s director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, is retiring in mid-December after 30 years of service. Grevatt has been overseeing the agency’s development of a management plan to deal with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which EPA hoped to complete by the end of this year. Grevatt has appeared at meetings of AWWA’s Water Utility Council to update members on the agency’s plans and presented at several of the Association’s Annual Conference and Expositions. He became head of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water in October 2012 after three years as senior advisor to the administrator on children’s environmental health. He also directed the division of resource conservation and sustainability and the division of economics, methods and risk analysis. Changes in S. 3021: Drinking water SRF reauthorized, potential funding boosted On Oct. 23, President Trump signed into law S. 3021, America’s Water Infrastructure Act. While water infrastructure 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 highlighting some of these key changes in a series of Insider articles. Here’s the next installment: Federal support of drinking water infrastructure finance gained a significant endorsement in S. 3021 when Congress reauthorized the drinking water state revolving loan fund (SRF) program. Authorization formally expired in 2003, but Congress continued providing capitalization grants for the program on an annual basis. Without authorization, there were no targeted levels of funding but there seemed to be a de facto base level of about $860 million in recent years. S. 3021 authorizes the drinking water SRF program with $1.174 billion in fiscal year 2019, $1.3 billion in 2020 and $1.95 billion in 2021. These are only authorized amounts, as actual funding will come in the annual appropriations bills that Congress passes. There is no guarantee that Congress will provide all funds authorized. Therefore, one emphasis at the AWWA “Water Matters! Fly-In” in March will be to seek full authorized funding for the SRF and other programs. The bill gives states the ability to extend loan repayment terms to disadvantaged communities from 30 to 40 years. Another part of the bill commands EPA to conduct a “best practices” study of the drinking water SRF to determine how the application process can be streamlined and other aspects of SRF administration improved. NRDC agrees to perchlorate extension The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has agreed to a request from EPA to extend a court-ordered deadline for proposing a drinking water regulation for perchlorate by six months to April 30, 2019. The agency was facing an Oct. 31 deadline. NRDC agreed to the request in a filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. NRDC initially filed suit in 2016, charging EPA with missing the two-year deadline set in the Safe Drinking Water Act for proposing a perchlorate rule. EPA’s deliberations were protracted given challenges associated with the development of a Biologically Based Dose Response model following initial reviews by the Science Advisory Board and subsequently a two-part peer review panel that was completed. EPA approves test method for four more PFAS EPA announced last week it had approved a test method for four additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. Agency officials said the method, EPA Method 537.1, will allow laboratories to accurately measure 18 PFAS in drinking water. The agency first published the method in 2009 to measure 14 PFAS. The four additional substances are the Gen-X chemical HFPO-DA, as well as 11-chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid (11Cl-PF3OUdS), 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanone-1-sulfonic acid (9Cl-PF3ONS), and 4,8-dioxa-3H-perfluorononanoic acid (ADONA). Levels of PFAS in blood are compound specific This week, two epidemiology research studies released results reporting PFAS blood serum levels from human populations near known-PFAS release sites, including those with drinking water exposure. Notably, a report based on exposure in the Wilmington, N.C., area found elevated PFOS levels but no GenX (minimum reporting level of 2 ppb), although GenX was present in relevant tap water samples. The study also found new novel PFAS compounds in blood samples. In Warminster, Warrington and Horsham, Pennsylvania a study of PFAS levels in 250 individuals showed elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS). Like the North Carolina study, the environmental exposure did lead to elevated levels of some but not all of the PFAS compounds tested. Trump announces plans to nominate Wheeler to head EPA President Donald Trump announced last week that he plans to nominate acting EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler to head the agency. Wheeler would replace Scott Pruitt, who resigned last July. Wheeler was deputy administrator at the time. Prior to joining EPA, Wheeler was a lobbyist and lawyer for energy companies and an aide to U.S. Sen. James Inhofe when Inhofe was chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Senate panel to consider Dunn for EPA post The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works was set to hold a hearing Thursday on the nomination of Alexandra Dunn to be the assistant administrator for EPA for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. We expect to see the committee to vote to forward her nomination to the full Senate for approval. Dunn is currently EPA’s Region 1 Administrator, which covers New England states. Prior to coming to EPA, she was counsel and executive director for the Environmental Council of the States and for Association of Clean Water Administrators. OIG issues report on biosolids On Nov. 19, the EPA Inspector General issued a report chastising the agency for not meeting its statutory duty under the Clean Water Act to review its biosolids regulations every two years. The report also cited a lack of data and risk assessment tools needed to determine the safety of 352 pollutants found in biosolids. The agency has been working to make the review more systematic and include a mechanism for evaluating pollutants recognized as being in biosolids and potentially hazardous. The 2015 biennial review was published in May 2018. The 2017 biennial review will be published before the end of the year. Next year, EPA expects to finalize a tool for screening pollutants to select a shorter list of chemicals for completing risk assessments. Litigation to influence SDWA regulatory standards The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has filed petitions for rulemaking in Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut to set state primary drinking water standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. CLF calls on states to regulate in lieu of action from EPA and suggests the states should use a treatment technique, e.g. specify a combination of treatment technologies to address all PFAS. Waterkeeper Alliance forwarded a notice of intent to file suit against EPA for not meeting non-discretionary Safe Drinking Water Act deadlines for (1) regulating tetrachloroethylene and trichloroethylene; (2) revising standards for chlorite, cryptosporidium, haloacetic acids, heterotrophic bacteria, giardia lamblia, legionella, total trihalomethanes, and viruses; (3) review / revise total chromium / hexavalent chromium standard; and (4) decide to revise or not every primary standard during every six-year cycle. This is the second of a series of letters of intent Waterkeeper Alliance has submitted on this topic. The letter starts a 60-day clock after which the Alliance is free to file suit. AWWA co-sponsoring educational water mission AWWA is co-hosting a February 2019 educational water-sector mission to Tel Aviv, Israel, with the Israel-US Water Initiative and Israel-Colorado Innovation Fund. A delegation of up to 30 participants will meet with Israeli government and water industry representatives and learn about innovative technologies and practices focused on reuse, security and public awareness. The agenda includes interaction with representatives from Israel’s leading water and wastewater utilities and tours of desalination and wastewater treatment facilities. Participants will discuss topics at round tables and networking receptions and dinners, including challenges faced by water utilities, Israeli innovative solutions and how to increase the public’s understanding of the value of water – gaining insight that may be applied to solve water challenges at the local level. The tour is scheduled for the week of February 3, 2019 and will cost about $5,000 per person. Co-chairs are Bob Lembke, CEO and President, United Water District; Chris Dermody, Chief Information Officer, Denver Water; and Barb Martin, Director of Engineering and Technical Services, AWWA. To register, contact Gili Elkin or Barb Martin.