State CWA-SDWA Workshop Held this Week Identifies Next Steps for Continued Coordination

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On March 21, ASDWA, the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) held a half-day Clean Water Act – Safe Drinking Water Act (CWA-SDWA) Workshop in Washington, DC.  Approximately 50 participants attended from state clean water, drinking water, and ground water programs from across the country, as well as all the EPA Water Offices, two EPA Regions, and USGS.  Thanks especially to the New Hampshire, Utah, New York, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania Drinking Water Programs for participating on behalf of ASDWA.

The purpose of the workshop was to discuss CWA-SDWA coordination opportunities and challenges and identify next steps to better protect sources of drinking water (both groundwater and surface water) and improve water quality.  The first part of the workshop included:

  • Welcoming remarks from Jennifer McLain of EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water and Sheila Frace of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management;
  • A presentation from Wendy Drake and Amie Howell of EPA Regions 5 and Region 3 who shared information about their CWA-SDWA Integration Checklist for working within their offices and with their states;
  • A presentation from Deirdre Mason of ASDWA who provided information about the National Source Water Collaboratives tools and resources that can be used to help support CWA-SDWA efforts and local level stakeholder engagement; and
  • Presentations from Ryan Chapman of Nebraska, Jennifer Wigal of Oregon, John Barndt of Delaware, and Peter Goodmann of Kentucky about their efforts to coordinate across clean water, drinking water, and ground water programs to protect drinking water sources.

The rest and majority of the workshop was spent in breakout groups discussing where states are making progress at CWA-SDWA and related program coordination and collaboration, identifying challenges and barriers that impede progress on these activities, and brainstorming on next steps and action items to continue to work on these types of efforts after the meeting.  Some key discussion points and needs identified during the breakouts included:

  • Using an integrated water resources management approach to protect source water quantity and quality, address infrastructure needs, and identify opportunities for water reuse;
  • Getting buy-in from senior management to work across programs;
  • Working with other programs and partners to address and communicate risk on emerging contaminants;
  • Making it easier to share data and conduct real time water monitoring for both surface and ground waters;
  • Working with agricultural programs and developing numeric nutrient criteria to address nonpoint source pollution; and
  • Using the Source Water Collaborative Learning Exchange as a platform to share information.

At the end of the workshop, participants identified a number of next steps and action items including:

  • Conducting more workshops like this at both the national and regional levels on specific CWA program areas;
  • Hosting discussions on a true definition of safe drinking water and developing talking points on the cost vs. risk of addressing drinking water contaminants;
  • Continuing to share state program coordination examples and encouraging state to state peer mentoring;
  • Expanding the use of the Region 5/3 integration checklist in other regions and states;
  • Developing a one-stop shop clearinghouse for source water protection funding sources; and
  • Using EPA’s Recovery Potential Screening Tool and the soon to be released Healthy Watershed Assessment for furthering source water protection efforts.

ASDWA, ACWA , GWPC, and EPA plan to continue working together on these action items to help states and stakeholders move forward with their coordination efforts, so stay tuned for more information in the near future.  If you have any questions, please contact Deirdre Mason of ASDWA at dmason@asdwa.org or 703-812-4775.