U.S. House announces defense bill conferees, PFAS on agenda U.S. House leadership announced the conferees who will hash out differences in its National Defense Authorization Act with the Senate version and come to agreement on a final bill. Any agreement will likely address PFAS contamination on and near military installations, including a ban on firefighting foam containing PFAS and assistance for people who may have been exposed. The wildcard is whether conferees will agree to designate PFAS as a hazardous substance and, if so, whether to address it as a class. We will engage conferees during the process to ensure they understand the potential consequences of a “hazardous substance” designation on utilities and customers. House Democratic conferees can be found here , and Republican conferees here . The Senate Republican conferees have not yet been publicly announced. Dark Waters, Troubled Water Speaking of PFAS, you will hear soon about an upcoming feature-length movie on the subject. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Anne Hathaway and Tim Robbins, “ Dark Waters ” is in select theaters beginning Nov. 22. The trailer suggests the plot will center on a corporate defense attorney who took on an environmental lawsuit against DuPont. AWWA has a PFAS resource page if you need assistance responding to questions that may arise due to the movie’s release. Meanwhile, New York Times best-selling author Seth M. Siegel will publish a book called Troubled Water on Oct. 1. The book’s promo says, “If you thought America’s drinking water problems started and ended in Flint, Michigan, think again. From big cities and suburbs to the rural heartland, chemicals linked to cancer, heart disease, obesity, birth defects, and lowered IQ routinely spill from our taps. …The tragedy is that existing technologies could launch a new age of clean, healthy, and safe tap water for only a few dollars a week per person.” AWWA is in contact with the author and will keep you informed on potential response and engagement strategies. Administration re-codifies previous WOTUS definition The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and R.D. James, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works, finalized the federal “Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’—Recodification of Pre-Existing Rules.” EPA submitted the final rule for publication in the Federal Register and a prepublication copy is available . This final rule completes the administrative process of withdrawing and replacing the Obama administration’s “Clean Water Rule.” There remains ongoing litigation on this issue, and the new final rule could be litigated as well. EPA previously proposed a new revised definition of 'Waters of the United States,' but has not yet finalized it. In general, this action has minimal impact because the 2015 rule never took effect in much of the country due to litigation. A recent Journal AWWA column describes these issues. AWWA CEO to speak alongside Colgate on UN Plaza panel On Monday morning, AWWA CEO David LaFrance will participate in a panel discussion adjacent to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Hosted by Colgate, the panel is part of the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Media Zone in the UN Visitor’s Plaza. Titled '#EveryDropCounts: Small Changes Make Big Climate Impacts,” the panel will also include Vance Merolla, Colgate's worldwide director of sustainability, and Mina Guli, an Australia-based ultra-marathoner and water activist. U.S. House turns to stopgap funding deal to prevent shutdown The U.S. House of Representatives approved a Continuing Resolution (CR) this week to provide temporary funding at current levels for federal agencies and avoid a partial government shutdown when Fiscal Year 2019 ends on Sept. 30. The U.S. Congress has yet to send a single appropriations bill to the President’s desk due to a long-delayed agreement on spending parameters, which came in days before the August recess. The CR is somewhat controversial, however, because the House included language requiring transparency from the U.S. Department of Agriculture about payments to farmers hurt by the escalating tariff war with China. Election year politics and larger disagreements about military construction spending may delay a long-term spending bill this year, so we are likely to see an extension of the CR once it expires on Nov. 21. EPA proposes national water reuse action plan EPA released a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan on Sept. 10, reflecting, in part, joint comments developed by AWWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and WateReuse. The plan seeks to foster water reuse as an important component of integrated water resource management. EPA will facilitate discussions among federal, state and water sector stakeholders and form new partnerships to develop and deploy the plan. Comments on the draft Action Plan are due to EPA on Dec. 16. EPA seeking comments on harmful algal bloom event determinations To conform with the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (PL 115-423), EPA is issuing a Federal Register notice requesting public comment on when to determine that a harmful algal bloom (HAB) or hypoxia event in freshwater is an “event of national significance.” A federal determination that a HAB or hypoxia event is such an event of national significance would enable mobilization of federal resources to assess and mitigate its detrimental effects, subject to appropriations. Comments must be received on or before Oct. 31. The EPA notice follows a previous comment opportunity provided by the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration regarding marine HAB and hypoxia events for which comments were due last week. $300 million available through Regional Conservation Partnership Program; webinar on Sept. 26 The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), an agricultural conservation program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), allows partners to address resource concerns at scale. The 2018 Farm Bill gives substantial recognition to source water protection within these programs and each opportunity for funding can address agriculture-related source water protection concerns. RCPP has $300 million available through December 3 to deploy these conservation practices. Utilities are encouraged to attend an NRCS webinar on Sept. 26 (information on RCPP’s website ) to learn more abo ut this program, to review the resources on AWWA’s Source Water Protection page and to contact Adam Carpenter in AWWA’s Washington, D.C. office with questions and assistance for applying to the program. New grant program supports national forests The Innovative Finance for National Forests program is a new partnership that provides grants to engage private investment capital to support the health of the National Forest System and meet the mission of the USDA Forest Service. It is funded and administered by the USDA Forest Service, National Partnership Office, National Forest Foundation and U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities. The program is intended to support innovative approaches that direct private investment capital to improve the health of the National Forest System through projects that deliver environmental and social outcomes and financial returns. Plans include a $4 million, five-year, competitive grant program. Information and an application form are available at www.ifnfgrants.org . Water systems are specifically noted as a possible beneficiary of projects targeted by this grant opportunity.