U.S. EPA releases advisory regarding China-sponsored cyber threat The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an alert warning that water and wastewater systems remain at high risk from Volt Typhoon (also known as BRONZESILHOUETTE and VANGUARD PANDA), a People’s Republic of China (PRC) state-sponsored cyber actor. System owners and operators should direct their network administrators to review this Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) and carry out the recommended mitigation procedures. New information has been discovered concerning Volt Typhoon’s network scanning and other reconnaissance activities at U.S entities in the energy, aviation and defense sectors as recently as mid-June 2023. Mitigation measures to help network administrators searching for this activity include: Scanning network for the known indicators of compromise included in the EPA alert, and other unusual IP addresses and ports in command lines, registry entries, and firewall logs to identify other hosts potentially involved in actor actions. Blocking all listed IP addresses and user-agents listed in the EPA alert. Establishing baselines of normal activity, particularly for remote access and administrative actions, and looking for outliers from those baselines. If you have questions about information in the cybersecurity advisory, please contact Brandon Carter , Water Infrastructure and Cyber Resilience Division, USEPA. If you find evidence of potential Volt Typhoon activity, please report this activity to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations at Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) | File a Complaint or CISA at Incident Reporting System | CISA . EPA releases first UCMR 5 monitoring data EPA published the first round of monitoring data for 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and lithium yesterday. The data release includes monitoring from more than 2,000 water systems with the following data summary for the occurrence of each contaminant: The most frequently observed analyte was lithium. It was detected in 30.5 % of systems and above the EPA’s health reference level in 22.1% of systems. Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) was detected in 6.0% of samples and above the provisional health advisory level in 8.5% of systems. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was detected in 5.7% of samples and present above the provisional health advisory level in 7.8% of systems. Other frequently detected PFAS include perfluoropentanoic acid (PFPeA), perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA), and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) at 7.6%, 6.8%, 6.8% 6.7% and 4.7% of samples, respectively. AWWA is analyzing the released data to better understand PFAS occurrences nationally and how the data compares to EPA’s recent statistical analysis of UCMR 3 and state monitoring data to support the proposed drinking water regulations for PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS. A preliminary analysis of the dataset suggests that a much larger number of water systems will be impacted by the proposed standards. In particular, the data shows the analysis for the proposed rules significantly underestimates the number of small systems impacted and overestimates the number of large systems impacted. OMB releases final BABA guidance The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released the guidance text it intends to publish in the Federal Register to support implementation of the Build America, Buy America Act provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and to clarify existing provisions related to domestic preferences. The text includes new guidance for determining the cost of components of manufactured products as well as a definition for manufacturing processes applicable to construction materials. The guidance also addresses how agencies should receive and process requests for waivers. OMB indicates that before the new guidance is effective (60 days after formal publication), it will issue an update to “Initial Implementation Guidance on Application of Buy America Preference in Federal Financial Assistance Programs for Infrastructure” (Memorandum M-22-11). NDWAC discusses PFAS drinking water standard In briefing the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC), EPA staff reaffirmed their intent to finalize a proposed drinking water standard for PFAS by the end of this year. They said they cannot wait for data from the ongoing UCMR 5 given the need to act to protect public health. Agency staff also reiterated their belief that a hazard index based on multiple health endpoints was valid, arguing that such an approach was conservative and protective of public health. NDWAC members with experience as drinking water suppliers and state regulators sought greater attention to the substantial cost of implementing the rule as proposed. Drinking water highlighted as enforcement priority In announcing its updated enforcement priorities for 2024 – 2027, EPA’s enforcement program emphasizes drinking water. EPA characterizes the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliance saying, “Each year thousands of Community Water Systems (CWS) continue to violate one or more drinking water standards, exposing millions of people to potential health risks.” EPA also emphasized the importance of curtailing release of PFAS into the environment by major manufacturers and users of manufactured PFAS, federal facilities, and other industrial parties. AWWA comments on rules for major renewables and efficiency policy AWWA recently commented on proposed rules issued by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which for the first time would provide tax-exempt and governmental entities access to certain tax credits through direct payments. The proposed rules pertain to “elective pay” for credits related to renewables, efficiency, and deployment of electric vehicles. Prior to passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022, these credits were available only to taxable entities. The IRS rules, expected to be finalized in early 2024, will open the door for municipal entities and special districts to take advantage of investment tax credits for solar and other renewables, as well as rebates for electric and hybrid vehicles. AWWA's comments aim to help make the process as accessible as possible to the utility community. For those entities that are taxable, the IRS is also working to institute rules on “ transferability ” that allow taxable entities to assign or sell their credits to third parties as part of projects involving eligible activities.