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CCR Retrospective Review Gets Underway

On February 23rd, EPA hosted a webinar and launched a two week electronic “Listening Session” to gain insights into stakeholder concerns, issues, and suggestions for streamlined, less burdensome, and more effective Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs).

Nearly 700 representatives from the water community, Federal, state, and local governments, and the interested public signed on for the event. Approximately 72% of the participants were from drinking water utilities; 14% represented governmental entities; and 2% identified themselves as “public.” Among all participants, 59% indicated that they were “very familiar” with the CCR and its requirements.

EPA began with an overview of the required elements and delivery timeframes that apply to creation and distribution of CCRs and then spoke about the events that led up to the webinar and listening session. The Agency has been aware of some of the challenges relating to the efficacy and efficiency of the current CCR requirements. In 2010, OGWDW’s Drinking Water Protection Division began to evaluate the possibility of allowing electronic delivery as an alternative – or at least as an additional option to the direct mail to each customer requirements – and constructed some targeted e-delivery pilot initiatives. In January 2011, the President issued Executive Order 13563 that calls for the periodic retrospective review of existing regulations to assess options for burden reduction and greater efficiency and effectiveness. EPA chose the CCR as one of the existing regulations that would benefit from a retrospective review.

That decision led to the concept of creating a listening session that would allow extensive public input and participation (also required by EO 13563). Using a new Federal information gathering and interactive exchange tool – “IdeaScale” – EPA determined that input should be gathered in five principal areas:

  • CCR e-delivery options
  • CCR certification requirements
  • CCR use as a vehicle for Tier 3 Public Notice requirements
  • CCR reporting units (whole v. decimal units)
  • CCR clarity and understanding as perceived by the public

Each of these discussion areas is further explored by 29 specific questions that are open for comment or discussion. The questions are generally grouped for response by utilities, state primacy agencies, or consumers – although all questions may be addressed by any interested party. For example, state primacy agencies are identified as a primary responder for questions related to how they might track Tier 3 PN reporting using the CCR v. how they track other Tier 3 distribution methods or what suggestions they might offer to streamline the CCR certification process to reduce state burden.

The Listening Session is open until March 9th. EPA will then compile all responses, comments, and suggestions and work toward creating a draft guidance that speaks to CCR enhancement options. The draft will form the basis for a series of public meetings in early Fall with the expectation that a final guidance document could be issued in January 2013. Separately, EPA will also begin to evaluate options that would require more formal statutory or regulatory changes.

By the end of the webinar, more than 160 comments had already been posted…including some from several state drinking water programs.

ASDWA encourages each state to participate in this important new comment opportunity. If you have not already signed up, please do so. You may enter comments or suggestions at any time over the next two weeks. Please go to: http://CCRRetrospectiveReview.ideascale.com. Your input is important as EPA gathers ideas about how to make the Consumer Confidence Report Rule more effective and less burdensome.