AWWA, IAPMO release guide for building owners AWWA and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) just released the guide “ Responding to Water Stagnation in Buildings with Reduced or No Water Use ” to assist in the reopening of buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Developed by a team of experts, it draws on available guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and from accredited standards from the American National Standards Institute. The guide provides a framework for building owners and managers to assess if actions are needed and how to proceed in the wake of periods of water stagnation in building water systems. Effective action within buildings leverages the work of water systems to ensure high quality water is available in their communities. The guide can also be used to support building owners and managers in collaborating and communicating with local businesses. EPA engages stakeholders for M/DBP rule revision EPA will host a virtual public meeting Oct. 14-15 about the risks of microbial/disinfection byproducts (M/DBP) in drinking water, which is the next step in the agency’s efforts to follow through on risk reduction opportunities identified in its Third Six-Year Review . Information about the meeting and how to register are available on EPA’s website . EPA had announced its intention to complete preparation of a proposed rule by July 2024. The current timeline stems from a settlement in Waterkeeper Alliance vs. EPA . Revisions proposed to nationwide permit program The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued a proposed rule to renew and revise 52 nationwide permits (NWP) for work in wetlands and other waters that are regulated by Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and/or Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. The proposed rule includes a significant revision of NWP 12 that would limit oil and natural gas pipeline activities, and issue five new NWPs. Two of the new proposed NWPs would cover utility line activities for water and other substances, and water reclamation and reuse facilities. AWWA is reviewing the proposed action and will be submitting comments by the deadline of November 6. If you would like to provide input, contact AWWA’s Kevin Morley . FEMA opens $600 million grant application process Water utilities, especially those complying with the risk and resiliency requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act, as amended in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, are encouraged to use that analysis to make the business case for a new round of hazard mitigation funding announced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The two grant programs, the Flood Mitigation Assistance grant and the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities grant (BRIC) will provide funds to states, local communities, tribes and territories for eligible mitigation activities. These programs allow funding to be used on projects that will reduce future disaster losses. This will be the first time FEMA has offered the BRIC grant, which was made possible by the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, allowing for a stable funding source to fund mitigation projects annually. Both grant applications will be open until Jan. 21. Eligible applicants must apply for funding using the new FEMA Grants Outcomes (FEMA GO). GAO recommends improved lead monitoring in child care facilities The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report Thursday recommending that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) require grantees to document that water provided to children is safe from lead and for EPA and HHS to improve their collaboration. GAO estimated that 43% of Head Start centers had not tested their drinking water for lead in late 2018 or 2019 and 31% did not know whether they had tested or not. The GAO report follows a Sept. 27 New York Times article described as being based on the final Lead and Copper Rule revisions sent by EPA to the Office of Management and Budget. Commentary in that article described requirements for community water systems to monitor in schools and child care facilities as inadequate among other concerns. GAO completes review of chemical security, water sector GAO has recommended in a just-released report that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) use EPA data to plan its outreach to facilities, such as water systems, that produce, use or store hazardous chemicals that could be targeted by terrorists. U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, had asked GAO to assess issues related to chemical security and facilities that are excluded from Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS). Such facilities are regulated under the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, and in the case of drinking water and wastewater facilities, by EPA. GAO was to look at the extent to which those programs contain requirements or guidance that align with CFATS. GAO’s report included consideration of the Risk Management Plan (RMP) under Clean Air Act §112(r), and Community Water System Risk and Resilience under Safe Drinking Water Act §1433 as revised by §2013 of the AWIA. CFATS, which is administered by DHS, requires facilities with threshold quantities of hazardous chemicals of interest to comply with 18 performance-based standards. GAO found that the AWIA and the RMP covered all but four of the 18 CFATS-required actions. The review also determined that ANSI/AWWA G430: Security Practices for Operations and Management contains elements that generally align with all 18 CFATS standards, including the four that neither the RMP nor AWIA contain. DHS agreed with GAO’s recommendation that it assess EPA data when planning outreach to public water system and wastewater treatment works facilities. DHS further stated that it will review EPA data to identify public water system and wastewater treatment facilities with threshold quantities of CFATS chemicals of interest. State PFAS efforts continue As EPA continues to finalize a positive regulatory determination for two PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), states continue to address PFAS concerns through regulatory and legislative strategies. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) on Sept. 16 published a final rule for PFAS in drinking water . The final rule establishes a summed 20 parts-per-trillion maximum contaminant level (MCL) for six PFAS (termed PFAS6 in the rule) including PFOA, PFOS, perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA) and perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA). Community water systems in Massachusetts will be required to conduct monitoring starting in 2021. To date, Massachusetts has established effective regulations for finished drinking water quality, groundwater cleanup standards and soil cleanup standards. While monitoring for PFAS in residuals has been required since 2019, MassDEP recently initiated a stakeholder engagement effort for PFAS management options for residuals. The first stakeholder meeting was held Tuesday and will be followed by two additional technical advisory meetings and stakeholder meetings. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday signed into law Senate Bill 1044 , “Firefighting equipment and foam: PFAS chemicals.” The bill follows the pattern set in other states that have enacted similar restrictions on the manufacture, sale and use of PFAS-containing firefighting equipment and foam. Restrictions include a notification requirement to purchasers and a recall for firefighting foam with intentionally added PFAS. Coronavirus relief package not yet within reach Despite a few glimmers of progress in the last few days, negotiators have so far failed to reach agreement on the next COVID-19 economic relief package. The White House and the U.S. House of Representatives have resumed talks and inched closer to compromise, but a few sticking points remain. These include a House proposal to send $500 billion in aid to local and state governments, as well as a White House proposal to shield employers from liability if they reopen for business. The House’s $500 billion state and local aid proposal appears to focus on education and schools, general revenue shortfalls and Medicaid spending, so it’s unclear how much, if any, would be directed toward struggling water utilities. However, even if the two sides reach an agreement, any final package would require Senate approval, and majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has balked at the multi-trillion-dollar price tag. The dueling proposals from the House and the White House clock in at $2.2 trillion and around $1.5 trillion, respectively, whereas Senate leadership maintains any amount over $1 trillion is too much. If the parties fail to reach a bipartisan agreement, the House plans to vote on its own slimmed-down $2.2 trillion package in the coming weeks.