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Upcoming EPA and USDA Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care Facilities Funding Webinar

June 17, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

EPA and USDA will be hosting a joint webinar on July 14 from 1:00-2:30 pm (Eastern) discussing funding opportunities for lead testing and remediation in schools and child care facilities. This webinar will include discussions on available funding, who and what projects are eligible, and how to access the funding.

The webinar will be broken down into the following:

  • S. EPA 3Ts – Training, Testing and Taking Action program to reduce lead levels in drinking water in schools and child care facilities.
  • S. EPA Grants under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) available to Native American tribes, states, and territories.
  • USDA Grants and Loans under the Community Facilities Programs available to schools, child care facilities, municipalities, and Native American Tribes
  • USDA Grants and Loans under the Water and Environmental Programs available to municipalities, utilities, and Native American Tribes.
  • State Case-study – Pennsylvania’s Program on Providing Voluntary Lead in Drinking Water Testing to Childcare Facilities and Schools using EPA WIIN Grant Funding

For more information and to register, click here.

Radhika Fox Confirmed by Senate to Lead EPA Water Office

June 17, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

The Senate voted 55-43 to confirm Radhika Fox as Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water. The Senate vote included seven Republicans joining with 48 Democrats to confirm Fox. President Biden nominated Fox for the position, and she has been serving as the assistant deputy director for the Office of Water while awaiting Senate confirmation. In May, the Senate held a hearing on her nomination, where Senators questioned Fox on hot topics including lead in drinking water, per- and polyflouralkyl substances (PFAS) and Waters of the US (WOTUS).

During the hearing, Fox highlighted several priorities if she were to be confirmed for the position, including implementing the range of water infrastructure funding and financing programs, strengthening and supporting the capacity of the states and tribes, continuing work on water affordability so that infrastructure investments are affordable for individual families and water systems, addressing PFAS and emerging contaminants, and supporting the office of water staff and “rebuilding the morale.”

Fox is the former US Water Alliance CEO and is the first woman of color and first person of Asian heritage to lead the EPA Office of Water.

EPA Delays LCRR Effective Date and Compliance Date

June 16, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

In a Federal Register notice published today (6/16), EPA has delayed the effective date of the final Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) originally published on January 15, 2021, at 86 FR 4198, and then delayed in a rule published March 12, 2021, at 86 FR 14003. The effective date of this rule is delayed until December 16, 2021. Additionally, the compliance date for the final rule is delayed until October 16, 2024. Extending the compliance deadline ensures states have the full three years provided by the Safe Drinking Water Act to adopt laws and regulations to obtain primacy for the rule and so water systems have adequate time to take any necessary actions to meet the compliance deadlines in the rule.

EPA explained that the further delay is needed to allow the agency adequate time to conduct a thorough review of the LCRR requirements and to assess whether the regulatory changes are needed. This action allows the agency to continue conducting virtual engagements to gather additional input from communities, national water associations, Tribes and Tribal communities, and EPA’s state co-regulators.

EPA Releases New Tools for Lead Testing in Schools and Child Care Facilities

June 11, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

This week, EPA released three new tools for the 3Ts toolkit on Reducing Lead Levels in Drinking Water in Schools and Child Care Facilities.

3Ts to Protect Children from Lead in Drinking Water at Child Care Facilities Poster – In collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – Office of Head Start and Office of Child Care have developed a poster to highlight the importance of 3Ts – Training, Testing, and Taking Action, on reducing lead in drinking water in child care facilities. The poster is intended for facilities specializing in early care and educational programs, including center-based and family child care homes, pre-kindergarten programs as well as Head Start and Early Head Start Programs. This friendly poster is a fun way to share and educate children, parents, guardians, staff, and associated communities about lead in drinking water.  The poster can be found here.

Sampling eTracker for Child Care facilities – This sampling eTracker is a recordkeeping and reporting interactive tool for child care facilities and small schools with ten (10) or fewer outlets. When testing for lead levels in drinking water, it serves to track sample results and actions taken when lead levels are detected. If the facility is receiving funding from the state under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act grant to test for lead in drinking water, the tool contains an auto-populating form that can be used to submit reportable information to the state. The tool can be found here.

Sampling eTracker for Schools – This sampling eTracker is an interactive recordkeeping and reporting tool for schools that have more than 10 outlets. When testing for lead levels in drinking water, it serves to track sample results and action taken when lead levels are detected. If the school is receiving funding from the state under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act grant to test for lead in drinking water, the tool contains an auto-populating form that can be used to submit reportable information to the state. The tool can be found here.

Pennsylvania Announces Final PFAS Statewide Sampling Results

June 11, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines, Source Water     

Pennsylvania has released its PFAS Statewide Sampling Results that includes a complete and final list of sample results collected from public water systems. The statewide sampling plan began in June 2019 to test for six PFAS (PFOS, PFOA, PFNA, PFHxS, PFHpA and PFBS) and was expanded in 2020 to test for 18 PFAS. The PA Department of Environmental Protection tested 372 targeted sites located within a half mile of a potential source of PFAS contamination, such as military bases, fire training sites, landfills, and manufacturing facilities; and 40 sites that were not located within a half mile of a potential source of PFAS contamination to establish a baseline.

The sampling was concluded in March 2021 and the results do not indicate widespread PFAS contamination, though PFOS and PFOA were most commonly detected (at 103 and 112 sites), only two sites had results above EPA’s Health Advisory Level for the sum of PFOS and PFOA at 70 parts per trillion (ppt). The other six PFAS that were detected are: PFNA, PFHxS, PFHpA, PFBS, PFHxA and PFUnA. For more information, read the press release and view the results on the PA PFAS website.

Three New PFAS Actions Announced by EPA

June 11, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines, Source Water     

EPA has announced three new actions to help reduce the potential risks to the public from PFAS. These actions include: issuing a proposed TSCA rule with new reporting requirements for more than 1,000 PFAS manufactured in the US; withdrawing guidance that weakened EPA’s July 2020 Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) restricting certain long-chain PFAS; and publishing a final rule that officially incorporates three additional PFAS into the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

TSCA Reporting Rule: The proposed TSCA rule on PFAS reporting was required by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and would require all manufacturers and importers of PFAS to report information in any year since 2011 and provide a comprehensive set of data with chemical identities, categories of use, volumes manufactured and processed, byproducts, environmental and health effects, worker exposure, and disposal. The proposed deadline for reporting PFAS data to EPA is one year following the effective date of the final rule. EPA will accept public comments on the proposed rule for 60 days following publication in the federal register via docket EPA-HQ-OPPT-2020-0549 at www.regulations.govView a prepublication version of the proposed rule.

Withdrawing Compliance Guide on PFAS SNUR: EPA has withdrawn a compliance guide that weakened the July 2020 Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) as required by the Biden Administration’s regulatory review requirement. The compliance guide was issued in January 2021 and limited PFAS “surface coatings” subject to the SNUR. After review, EPA determined that the guide inappropriately narrowed the scope and weakened the prohibitions included in the SNUR.  EPA’s July 2020 SNUR continues to be in effect and EPA does not intend to issue a new guidance document. For more information, visit EPA’s website.

Implementing NDAA Requirements to Report PFAS to TRI: EPA has taken the next step to implement the NDAA requirements that provided a framework for additional PFAS to be added to TRI on an annual basis. The NDAA automatically added three PFAS to the TRI list for reporting became effective in January 2021 and EPA issued its final rule on June 3rd requiring PFAS reporting to EPA by July 1, 2022, for calendar year 2021 data. For more information, view the final rule and visit EPA’s website.

EPA Webinar on Road Salts and Freshwater Salinization Syndrome

June 11, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines, Source Water, Webinars     

On Wednesday, June 30th from 2:00-3:00pm (eastern time), EPA’s ORD will host a webinar entitled, “Road Salts and Freshwater Salinization Syndrome: An Emerging Water Quality Threat,” as part of its Water Research Webinar Series. The webinar will include an optional Q&A session from 3:00-3:15pm and will examine the fate and transport of salts and chemical cocktails, describe environmental impacts and approaches to manage them, and discuss the use of real-time sensor data to characterize trends of nutrients and metals using long-term data from urban streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. For more information, view the webinar flyer and register for the webinar here.

EPA and Army to Revise WOTUS Definition

June 11, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines, Source Water     

On June 9, EPA and the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) to better protect our nation’s water resources. The Biden Administration Executive Order 13990 on “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” directed EPA and the Army to review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to revise or replace the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR) that defines WOTUS. EPA and the Army have completed this review and determined that they have concerns that it is causing significant, ongoing, and irreversible environmental damage.

This new effort to revise the definition will be aimed at: protecting water resources under the Clean Water Act; considering the latest science and the effects of climate change; emphasizing effective implementation; and reflecting the experience of landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, tribes, environmental organizations, and community organizations. In the interim, the NWPR is still in effect across the country. Further details of the agencies’ plans, including opportunity for public participation, will be conveyed in a forthcoming action later this summer.  For more information, read the press release and visit EPA’s website.

HHS Releases FY 2021 Funding for Low Income Household Water Assistance Program

June 11, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines, Small Systems     

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is releasing $166.6 million in FY’21 funding for the Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). In total, $1.1 billion will be available through LIHWAP grants from the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act and the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. LIWHAP grantees may use these funds to assist low-income households, particularly those with the lowest incomes, that pay a high proportion of household income for drinking water and wastewater services, by providing funds to owners or operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce arrearages of and rates charged to such households for such services. Up to 100 percent of the funding can also be carried over for obligations in FY’22 and FY’23. For more information, view the state and territorial FY’21 allocations here, read the press release, and visit the LIHWAP website.

Senate EPW Holds Hearing on PFAS

June 9, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines, Legislative     

On June 9, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing entitled, “PFAS: the View from Affected Citizens and States.” Four witnesses testified at the hearing to share their experiences and recommendations on PFAS from their personal, state, and water utility perspectives. The witnesses were Joanne Stanton of the Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water in Pennsylvania; James Kenney of the New Mexico Environment Department; Tracy Mehan of the American Water Works Association; and Scott Mandirola of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The testimonies and questions focused on federal government actions to assess and address PFAS contamination and the associated impacts to drinking water, public health, the environment, and the economy. Key recommendations discussed during the hearing included the need to:

  • Develop a federal PFAS drinking water regulation
  • Develop federal Clean Water Act water quality standards with limits in permits for producers
  • Designate PFAS as a hazardous substance under CERCLA
  • Create a deadline for industry and the Department of Defense to remediate and address legacy PFAS pollution
  • Use TSCA to prevent, limit, and track PFAS
  • Continue research on needed PFAS science and health studies
  • Increase funding for treatment, research, and state programs

ASDWA also submitted a Statement for the Record for the hearing that includes some similar recommendations. To view the recorded hearing and read the witness testimony, visit the Senate EPW website.

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