Comments needed for revised draft Lead and Copper Rule U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the agency’s proposal for revisions to the Long-Term Lead and Copper Rule (LT-LCR) last week. EPA will provide a 60-day comment period on the proposal. AWWA members are encouraged to share their experiences in managing lead in drinking water and what those experiences imply for implementation of the proposed rule provisions. EPA is hoping to finalize the LT-LCR in 2020, so it is unlikely there will be another comment opportunity. Highlights of the revised rule include: Lead service line replacement: Rule would require that utilities repl ace the utility-owned portion of a lead service line when a customer elects to replace the customer-owned portion. Corrosion control treatment: The new trigger level for optimizing corrosion control would be 10 ppb for the 90th percent sample. Systems that do not currently treat for corrosion would be required to conduct a corrosion control study. The 15 ppb action level remains unchanged. Sampling reliability: To increase reliability, the new rule would embed current guidance in rule language and revise sample pool requirements. Risk communication: The proposed rule would require public notification within 24 hours if a system exceeds the action level. Monitoring for lead in schools and childcare facilities: Utilities would be required to test schools and child care facilities. While not highlighted in EPA’s announcement, the rule would also require “a water system to submit a lead service line replacement plan by three years after the final rule publication date.” AWWA will continue to update members on developments related to the LCR in the weeks ahead and provides resources on lead . EPA releases UCMR 4 data EPA released data from the fourth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) Thursday. As with previous releases, the analytes observed most frequently are manganese and the sum of five haloacetic acids. These are also the analytes most frequently found at concentrations higher than EPA’s health-based reference levels. Under the UCMR, all large water systems and a representative subset of smaller systems are monitoring for a select set of metals, cyanotoxins, pesticides, brominated disinfection byproducts, alcohols and semi-volatile organic chemicals between 2018 and 2020. The national summary of the data provided by EPA reflects data received as of Oct. 2. WRF, AWWA, NACWA issue partnership guidance The Water Research Foundation, AWWA and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies have developed a resource guide and toolbox that provide direction on developing utility partnerships to better address industry challenges. Water Utility Partnerships: Resources Guide and Toolbox encourages utilities to form partnerships to achieve greater technical, managerial and financial capacity while working to maintain regulatory compliance and provide communities with water services. The framework outlined in the resource guide helps utilities to develop partnership teams with shared visions, identify and evaluate partnership structures and legal agreements that maximize opportunities, and create partnerships that bring value to all parties and the community. EPA closes two more WIFIA loans EPA last week announced closure on two significant loans under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. A $640 million loan is going to the Tualatin Valley Water District and the City of Hillsboro for development of an additional water supply for the two communities. The new water supply will meet high seismic safety standards for earthquake resiliency. The second announced WIFIA loan is the first to go directly to a state revolving loan fund program (SRF). The Indiana Finance Authority will leverage SRF funds with a $436 million WIFIA loan to lend almost $900 million to 23 wastewater and drinking water projects across the state. These will include improvements to water treatment plants, storage tanks, distribution system components, wells, and pump stations; construction of resiliency features; and water conservation measures. Wastewater projects will improve and increase capacity of wastewater treatment plants, construct tunnels to capture combined sewer overflows and develop collection systems. WIFIA staff presenting educational events WIFIA staff will offer two webinars on different aspects of the program in the coming months and will attend conferences to meet with potential stakeholders. The first webinar, “ WIFIA Borrowing Structures ,” scheduled for Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. ET, will describe various structures current WIFIA borrowers are using, including multiple borrowers under one loan, multiple borrowers with separate loans and one borrower for one loan. The second webinar, “ Federal Requirements Under WIFIA ,” scheduled for Jan. 9, 2020 at 2 p.m. ET, will explain the program’s National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 review requirements and other federal compliance require ments, including American Iron and Steel and Davis-Bacon and Related Acts. WIFIA staff will be in Cleveland, Ohio, Nov. 18-19 for the Council of Infrastructure Finance Authorities’ State Revolving Loan Fund workshop; in Washington, D.C., Dec. 3-4 for a P3 Government Conference , and in Anaheim, Calif., Jan. 28-31 for a meeting of the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers . OMB reviewing NEPA revision The White House Council on Environmental Quality is proposing a plan to speed up permit reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for construction of infrastructure. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is studying the proposal now and it could be months before that review is complete. Following OMB review, the proposal may be published as a notice of proposed rulemaking with a request for public comment. The proposed plan is meant to speed up environmental permitting for projects, but some environmental organizations are concerned it may be a step backward in environmental protection. For example, they believe the new process could eliminate public comment on permit requests or divide large projects into smaller ones to avoid evaluation of cumulative impacts. The NEPA regulations have not been amended since 1978, so there are arguments for updating the perm itting process. The proposal is an outgrowth of an executive order issued in August 2017 seeking to make such permitting more efficient for big projects. U.S. congressional appropriations stalled, EPA programs maintain strong bipartisan support The federal government is operating through Nov. 21 under a Continuing Resolution (CR), or a temporary stopgap funding measure, while U.S. Congress navigates the fiscal year 2020 appropriations process. It is unclear whether another CR will be necessary to fund the government until the beginning of the year. Both the House and Senate have already approved separate Interior-Environment appropriations bills, which fund EPA. The House bill funds the drinking water SRF at $1.3 billion, equal to the level authorized in last year’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act, while the Senate bill maintains fiscal year 2019’s operating level of $1.126 billion. The House bill funds WIFIA at $50 million, equal to its authorized level, with $5 million reserved for administrative expenses. The Senate funds WIFIA at $73 million but requires $8 million be set aside for administrative expenses. Of that amount, $5 million is to be spent on implementation of the SRF-WIN program. In total, the House appropriation could be leveraged to a potential loan capacity of not more than $5.41 billion, and the Senate appropriation could be leveraged to more than $6 billion.