Maui embarks on recovery, Florida/Southeast respond to Hurricane Idalia The impacts of the wildfires in Maui, especially the Lahaina community, have been devastating. The Maui Department of Water Supply (DWS) is working with state and federal partners, including subject matter experts, to begin the recovery process for water systems impacted by the fires. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed generators until grid power could be restored to several sites. In the Upcountry and West Maui areas, the DWS has staged water buffalo tankers as alternative sources of potable water. Sampling and analysis continue as an “unsafe water advisory” remains in effect for several areas. Discussions regarding mutual aid and assistance are ongoing through the Hawaii Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (HIWARN), including the possibility of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request for personnel and resources as needs are further defined. AWWA notes that direct support for the impacted communities should be directed to volunteer organizations such as the American Red Cross. Hurricane Idalia made landfall Wednesday morning in Florida's Big Bend near Keaton Beach as a Category 3 storm. Significant storm surge and flooding have impacted communities along a wide stretch of the Gulf Coast and downed power lines before moving northeast into Georgia and South Carolina. Immediate impacts on water utilities as of Thursday evening include at least 20 systems issuing boil water advisories and several drinking water and wastewater systems reporting operational impacts due to loss of power. Full damage assessments were being started by utilities on Thursday and will continue into the weekend. Full appropriation of authorized SRF amounts sought AWWA joined with 15 like-minded associations to send a letter to U.S. Congress seeking appropriations of $3 billion each for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Loan Funds (SRF) in fiscal year (FY) 2024 appropriations. The current appropriations language in the House would reduce the SRFs to a total of $995.6 million, $1.77 billion below the FY 2023 funding level. The letter also requests that Congressional leaders take steps to assure that SRF funding is not used for congressionally directed spending (earmarks). If you have not already joined the sector’s outreach to congressional offices regarding FY 2024 appropriations for infrastructure funding, please consider doing so . EPA receives time to weigh cybersecurity rule options The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit approved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) request for a 60-day extension for its next briefing deadline “to evaluate options regarding the agency action challenged in this case in light of the court’s rulings thus far and the issues raised by petitioners.” EPA’s request did not describe the options it was considering. EPA’s next filing deadline is now Nov. 27. As noted in AWWA’s July 21 Insider , the court agreed to pause implementation of the cybersecurity rule entitled “ Addressing PWS Cybersecurity in Sanitary Surveys or an Alternate Process .“ Presidential advisors recommend national water strategy The President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) finalized a new report intended to address looming “water crises.” The report, “ Preparing United States Critical Infrastructure for Today's Evolving Water Crises ”, includes recommendations to address the underlying issues. One suggestion is to develop a national water strategy to “elevate the importance of water” and create a Department of Water or a Cabinet-level equivalent to implement a “national strategic plan for water infrastructure.” Other major themes include water sustainability, incentives for investment strategies that reduce barriers to innovation and infrastructure renewal and enhancing resilience. The NIAC also acknowledges the workforce challenges facing the water sector. Several of the group’s recommendations had parallels in AWWA’s Water 2050 think tank recommendations. EPA responds to Sackett decision EPA and the U.S. Department of the Army has issued a final rule amending the 2023 definition of “waters of the United States.” The final rule was prepared under the “good cause” provision of the Administrative Procedures Act, which allows agencies to publish a final rule without notice and comment. This action is in response to the Supreme Court’s opinion in Sackett v. EPA. The rule revises the definition promulgated by the agency earlier this year. Changes include removing the significant nexus test from consideration when identifying tributaries and other waters as federally protected. It also revises the adjacency test when identifying federally jurisdictional wetlands. There will be an EPA webinar on Sept. 12 on the revised definition. 3M PFAS multidistrict litigation Judge Richard Gergel issued a preliminary order approving changes to the 3M PFAS settlement. The changes were, in part, the result of negotiations with the 22 state and territorial attorneys general who became engaged in the multidistrict litigation following plaintiffs reaching proposed settlement agreements with 3M and Dupont. The settlement documents are available at www.pfaswaterprovidersettlement.com . AWWA has scheduled a webinar on the multidistrict litigation settlements for Sept. 7. International debate around PFAS health risk assessment EPA, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individual states, Health Canada, the European Union and other nations each have their own unique approach for interpreting available data to inform health risk assessments. The Alliance for Risk Assessment is organizing an expert meeting on this divergence in approaches and associated policy implications. The meeting, which is open to the public (with registration), is occurring while EPA evaluates comments from multiple organizations, including AWWA , which submitted analyses questioning the health basis of the proposed PFAS drinking water standard . CASAC endorses EPA lead health risk assessment EPA’s Clean Air Act regularly reviews the state of the science underpinning the air program’s lead criteria. While distinct from the Safe Drinking Water Act program, the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) review of the agency’s latest draft assessment suggests the upcoming Lead and Copper Rule Improvements rulemaking could consider additional health benefits. CASAC endorsed a causal determination for adult cognitive decline and lumping cardiovascular effects into a single causal determination. In promulgating the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions , EPA did not assign quantitative benefits to cardiovascular health risk. Such an analysis would attribute a portion of the sizable cardiovascular disease burden in the United States to lead exposure. Cybersecurity pilot program launched for small water systems The Cyber Readiness Institute , in partnership with the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation and Microsoft, is launching a pilot initiative, called the “Phased Critical Infrastructure Pilot: Resiliency for Water Utilities,” to provide coach-supported training and resources focused on improving cybersecurity risk management and incident response. The pilot is designed to support up to 200 water and wastewater utilities serving between 500 and 10,000 customers over the next year. The pilot program is based on CRI’s Cyber Readiness Program, which is designed to be clear and accessible for organizations regardless of size and technical expertise. The program only requires about an hour per week for six weeks and very minimal technical expertise. Participants proceed at their own pace, with the help of a coach, to work through implementing organization-wide trainings and policies for strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, patch management, anti-phishing, business continuity and other core cyber readiness topics. If you are interested in participating in this program or learning more, please contact Kevin Morley , AWWA federal relations manager.