ASDWA Concludes its 36th Annual Conference

ASDWA Annual Conference Public Session Summary

This week ASDWA virtually hosted its 36th Annual Conference, with over 300 attendees participating in the public sessions. This year’s Annual Conference kicked off with the presentation of the Bridget O’Grady Excellence in Service Award by ASDWA President Cathy Tucker-Vogel to recent Iowa DNR retiree, Diane Moles. Congratulations, Diane!

During the Monday Opening Session, Jennifer McLain, Director, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water provided an EPA update. Topics covered in that update included:

  • LCRR – EPA is focusing on common themes in LCRR comments and heard during public sessions.
  • CCR – The November 4th call will provide stakeholders with an overview of revision plans. The NDWAC CCR recommendations for the full NDWAC will be finalized in November.
  • Justice40 – EPA is piloting three programs related to water – CWSRF, DWSRF, and reducing lead in drinking water. EPA will be hosting public engagement sessions on these initiatives, with the first being held on October 26th.
  • Cybersecurity – EPA is working with the Department of Homeland Security to develop tools and provide technical assistance to the water sector. EPA is aiming for a regulatory approach to cybersecurity, working with states to develop guidance documents and training.
  • Climate Change – EPA is looking at its funding and financing programs to assist utilities in building resiliency. EPA is providing technical assistance for climate risk assessments and adaptation strategies and have developed training for utilities. EPA wants to ensure that water systems have access to assistance when resilience planning and encourages utilities interested in climate change planning to reach out to EPA.
  • PFAS – The new EPA PFAS Strategic Roadmap was published this week and EPA expects to issue a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) for certain PFAS in Fall 2022 (before the Agency’s statutory deadline of March 2023) and issue a final regulation in Fall 2023 after considering public comments on the proposal. EPA is looking for nominations for individuals as Small Entity Representatives for a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel that will provide input on the agency’s effort to develop the PFAS NPDWR.
  • MDBPs – EPA is in the process of reviewing the MDBP regulations and has started its scientific and public engagements, with an upcoming meeting being held on November 18th.

The Opening Session concluded with a Congressional Update from Mae Stevens, Executive Vice President at Signal Group and Jess Kramer, Counsel with the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Congress is looking at how the regulatory development process could be optimized and would like to have discussions about how to balance affordability and cost-benefit analysis for small systems. Congress is also hopeful that an infrastructure bill will be passed this year. Senate appropriations were released this week, and Congress is continuing to work on 2022 appropriations.

Lead Service Line Inventories

ASDWA hosted a Lead Service Line Inventories session that included presentations from multiple experts in the water sector. Conversations included:

  • Lead service line inventory basics and translating data to public information;
  • Learning to adapt with implementation of new rule;
  • Lead service line replacement program experience at the state-level;
  • Connecting lead service line replacement with environmental justice.

California SAFER and Drinking Water Needs Assessment

The second day of ASDWA’s Annual Conference began with an overview of California’s SAFER and Drinking Water Needs Assessment. California’s SAFER program utilizes water systems, non-profit organizations, governments, a community advisory board, and other stakeholders work together to develop and implement preferably voluntary solutions using tools, funding sources, and regulatory authorities. Data and an annual needs assessment allows SAFER members to proactively reach out to water systems that are out of compliance to walk them through the SAFER application process and to collaborate on short- and long-term solutions, which are developed with input from the community.

PFAS: State Actions and Challenges

ASDWA hosted a PFAS session, which included presentations on state actions in Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Discussion included:

  • Colorado’s 2020 sampling program and AFFF takeback program;
  • An overview of ASDWA’s upcoming PFAS MCLs White Paper;
  • Nebraska’s UCMR3 sampling results, private well sampling, and preparation for UCMR5 sampling;
  • New Mexico’s USGS PFAS sampling partnership;
  • Pennsylvania’s PFAS Action Team, PFAS sampling plan and results, toxicology report, and proposed MCLS and MCLGs for PFOA and PFOS;
  • Massachusetts’s PFAS MCL process including monitoring requirements, public education, and treatment grants.

Workforce: Operators & Small Systems

ASDWA’s final public session focused on general workforce issues, which included the specific topics of operators and small systems. Presentations were given by Maine, the National Rural Water Association (NRWA), Texas and the Texas Department of Agriculture. This session included the following topics:

  • An overview of EPA’s new Innovative Water Infrastructure Workforce Development Program and the ten recipients;
  • A summary of NRWA’s apprenticeship program successes, which includes 366 registered apprentices, and how state programs can work with their state NRWA to address workforce issues;
  • Maine’s small system contract operations best practices and proposed Designated Operator Form;
  • The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s partnership and work with the Texas Department of Agriculture on successful operator trainings.

We want to thank all the speakers who shared their vast knowledge and expertise with us for this year’s Annual Conference and the participation of our audience. We look forward to your attendance at ASDWA’s next Annual Conference.