Clock starts for comments on revised LCR While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made public proposed revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) on Oct. 10, the rule docket did not formally open until this Wednesday’s publication of the proposal in the Federal Register. Now that the clock has started, the public can make comments on the proposal through Jan. 13. Yesterday AWWA, the National Association of Water Companies, National Rural Water Association, National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors sent a joint letter to EPA seeking a 30-day extension to the comment period, noting that this new proposed rule is substantially different from the existing rule and contains elements not discussed in stakeholder meetings. AWWA will host a webinar (free to members) on the LCR revisions at 1 p.m. ET on Nov. 21 for water utility staff and related professionals interested in the LCR. U.S. Supreme Court wrestles with groundwater and CWA The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral testimony Nov. 6 on County of Maui v. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund , et al., a case about when groundwaters are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The court heard the appeal of a 2018 Ninth Circuit decision in favor of covering releases to surface water from wells governed under the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control program under CWA. The Ninth Circuit found that there was release of a pollutant to navigable waters from a point source. This is the first of two similar lawsuits that test when groundwater is sufficiently hydrologically connected to surface water to meet statutory criteria for being subject to CWA. The second case, Upstate Forever, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., et al., was last considered in the Fourth Circuit Court. The Supreme Court almost did not consider the Maui case when parties to the suit came close to settling, rather than risk a court opinion. The jurists were actively engaged in discussion, and if their comments during the proceedings are any indication, a narrowly crafted finding is more likely than a sweeping policy framework. NAS agrees with EPA approach on arsenic reassessment The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) completed a peer review last week of EPA’s plans to reassess the health risk posed by arsenic and generally agreed. EPA’s approach would be to expand the assessment in several ways, including considering in utero exposure, evaluating developmental endpoints in addition to cancer, considering more recent low-dose response data and recognizing multiple modes of action. In 2000, when EPA finalized the arsenic regulation for drinking water the maximum contaminant level was set at 10 µg/L, based on cost-benefit analysis. While the maximum contaminant level goal for arsenic is zero, the benefit-cost analysis was based on a carci nogenic health effects level of 3 µg/L. Uncertainty regarding EPA’s risk assessment process and how the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) was organized postponed development of a risk assessment for arsenic for almost a decade. At present, information from EPA’s six-year review process does not speculate on the potential for revising the current standard until there is a new risk assessment. The October IRIS Program Outlook indicates EPA plans to release a risk assessment for public comment and peer review before the end of 2020. EPA seeking comments on PFAS risk assessments EPA is accepting public comments through Dec. 23 about five systematic reviews and dose-response analyses for use in developing five draft IRIS assessments for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The compounds in question are perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), perfluorohexanesulfonate (PFHxS), and perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), and their related salts. The agency’s Office of Water is specifically interested in the PFNA and PFHxS risk assessments. The Office for Land and Emergency Management, which is responsible for cleanup sites, is particularly interested in the risk assessment for PFDA, PFNA, PFHxA, PFHxS and PFBA. The initial risk framework highlights risk associated with chronic lifetime exposure. AWWA, NRWA send joint letter to EPA on PFAS AWWA and the National Rural Water Association sent a joint letter to EPA this week expressing concern about the potential consequences of declaring PFAS hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as Superfund. The letter mirrors concerns the associations have conveyed to members of Congress working on PFAS-related legislation. EPA is considering a range of regulatory options under its PFAS Action Plan unveiled last winter. In their joint letter, AWWA and NRWA warn that a hazardous substance declaration could make local utilities or municipalities liable for the actions of PFAS manufacturers and industrial users. While EPA does not traditionally pursue actions against municipalities in Superfund actions, “potentially responsible parties” in Superfund actions have done so in about 650 instances. AWWA, FEMA collaborate on resource typing guidance AWWA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have released a new Water Sector Resource Typing Guidance . The guidance replaces the Water/Wastewater Mutual Aid and Resource Typing Manual issued by AWWA in 2008 to fill a gap as the sector was establishing Water/Wastewater Agency Response Networks across the country. The new guidance is the result of a Memorandum of Agreement between AWWA and FEMA, from which 26 resource types have been added to FEMA’s Resource Typing Library Tool . The guidance includes an additional 10 resource types that will undergo additional review by FEMA since they address functions tha t are not exclusive to the water sector. Utilities that have integrated resource typing into their emergency planning were able to provide expedited water responses during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Florence and Michael and other incidents. As community water systems respond to requirements of Section 2013 of America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, they should be aware that the emergency response plan provision calls on utilities to include the identification of actions, procedures and equipment that can be used in response to an incident. Integrating this new resource typing guidance into a utility’s emergency response plan helps satisfy those objectives and the goals of the National Incident Management System. Additional guidance and training on AWIA are available through AWWA’s Utility Risk & Resilience Certificate Program .