U.S. Conservation Service extends funding deadline The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture is extending the application deadline for funding under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) to Nov. 30. The RCPP is a unique program that provides federal funding to address agricultural resources issues, which include water quality concerns and agricultural facets related to source water protection. Several utilities are partners in projects that have successfully secured millions of dollars in funding, including Sebago Clean Waters , managed by Portland Water District (Maine), which was recently awarded more than $8 million in NRCS funding to leverage $10 million in local contributions (a more detailed account of this award will be featured in an upcoming AWWA Connections article). Water utilities with source water concerns related to agriculture are encouraged to: review the materials on AWWA’s source water protection resource page , contact their NRCS state conservationist to learn about local source water initiatives, and consider applying for RCPP or another conservation program (usually in collaboration with local conservation districts or agricultural partners). Those interested in more information can contact Adam Carpenter in the AWWA Government Affairs Office. Trump signs order on water resources, infrastructure President Donald Trump signed an executive order on water resources and infrastructure Tuesday that will create an interagency “water subcabinet.” It aims to improve efficiency of water resource management across federal agencies, integrate infrastructure planning and enhance the water workforce. The Secretary of Interior and the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will serve as co-chairs, with secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, the Army and other agency leaders also serving on the committee. To a certain degree, this is a formal recognition of some existing efforts, as many of the activities described in the order have been under way for some time. Such an interagency effort produced the Water Reuse Action Plan announced in February. Podcast: AWWA regulatory manager discusses PFAS Chris Moody, AWWA’s regulatory technical manager, appeared on an episode of The Water Values Podcast on Oct. 6 to explore the many issues arising from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The episode can be downloaded for free here . During the episode, Moody and host David McGimpsey discussed: Background of PFAS Status of PFAS regulations at the federal and state levels Ways to mitigate PFAS AWWA's involvement in PFAS regulation Impact of PFAS regulations on water rates/consumers PFAS resources available on AWWA’s website EPA releases COVID financial impact tool EPA has released a Water Utility COVID-19 Financial Impact Tool designed to help drinking water, wastewater and stormwater utilities assess the financial impact of the current pandemic on their cash flows. The tool features a spreadsheet that automatically calculates changes in a utility’s revenues and expenses by looking at current monthly financial statements versus the average monthly statements from the utility’s 2019 audited statement. Water utilities can use this tool each month to keep a running total of cash flow. The agency said that use of this spreadsheet is voluntary, and results are provided for the user’s information only. EPA is not collecting data entered by utilities. ‘Smart Water’ symposium coming in November AWWA and the Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN) are hosting the International Smart Water Symposium on Nov. 10-11, where “smart water” thought leaders and attendees can gather virtually to explore data-driven solutions to today’s water challenges. More information and registration details are available online . Water and wastewater utilities have turned to digital solutions to minimize the impacts of COVID-19, and those that started their digital transformation journey before the pandemic have been able to respond quicker and more effectively. Digital solutions will become even more important as the water sector continues to adapt to uncertainty. Sensors, the Internet of Things (IoT), digital twins, machine learning, artificial intelligence and predictive analytics are just some of the tools available to help utilities leverage data to reduce costs and become more efficient, resilient and sustainable. WIFIA program closes on two more loans Officials at the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act ( WIFIA ) program at EPA announced they have closed on two more loans in the program. The City of Oceanside, Calif., is receiving a $69.1 million loan for its Pure Water Oceanside Project . Once completed, this project will purify recycled water to create a new, local source of high-quality treated water designed to be safe, drought-proof and environmentally sound. Total cost of the project will be $158.4 million. It will serve 180,000 people and create 622 jobs. The Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities closed on a $348.6 million loan for its Water Reclamation Nutrient Project . It will reconstruct the city’s 55-year old water reclamation facility and implement an additional treatment process to meet new regulatory total phosphorus limits, increase system resiliency and provide for future expansion. The final cost of the project will be $711.6 million. It will serve 194,000 people and create 440 jobs.