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Congress Passes Continuing Resolution Funding the Federal Government through December 16


On Friday (September 30), the House of Representatives voted to approve a bill to fund the federal government through December 16. The Senate had already passed the measure on Thursday (September 29). Now the bill will go to President Joe Biden for his signature averting the government shutdown, narrowly missing the midnight deadline.

September 30, 2022


EPA Finalizes Additional Waiver for Build America, Buy America Requirements


On September 26, EPA finalized an additional waiver from the requirements under the Build America, Buy America Act (BABA). The waiver is applicable to small projects with total federal funding (direct EPA funding and any other federal agency) in amounts equal to or less than the Simplified acquisition threshold, which is currently $250,000. ASDWA submitted comments when the waiver was first proposed generally supporting the waiver but recommended that EPA increase the threshold to $1 million. ASDWA argued that this increase would better achieve the Agency’s goals of reducing the burden on small and disadvantaged communities. The final waiver can be found on EPA’s ‘Approved BABA Waivers’ page.


EPA to Hold October 11 Webinar on Defining “Disadvantaged Communities”


EPA will be holding a webinar October 11th, 3-4pm ET that will cover the Agency’s recently released Disadvantaged Communities (DAC) Definitions Report. EPA and state speakers will discuss the role of state-defined DACs in the Safe Drinking Water Act and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRF), DAC definitions and guidelines, what the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) means for DWSRF investments in DACs, and opportunities to improve DWSRF program reach to communities most in need. Registration is available online.


Register for EPA’s Upcoming UCMR 5 Webinar


On October 26 and 27, EPA will hold a webinar for small and large water systems (PWSs), with the intent of heling PWSs learn about the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5). Presentations during the webinar will provide an overview of the UCMR 5 program and information on monitoring schedules and locations, the Safe Drinking Water Accession and Review System (SDWARS), sample collection, and reporting requirements.

Click here to register. Please note that the same information will be repeated on both October 26 and 27.

Rule Background

In December of 2021, EPA published UCMR 5 to establish nationwide monitoring for 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and lithium ink drinking water served by PWSs. The rule requires participating PWSs to sample from 2023-2025 and report final results through 2026. America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 requires all small PWSs serving between 3,300 and 10,000 people to participate in UCMR (subject to availability of appropriations and lab capacity) and specifies that a representative sample of small PWSs serving fewer than 3,300 people participate.

September 29, 2022


EPA Announces New National Office for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights


On September 24, EPA announced the creation of a brand-new national office focused on advancing environmental justice and civil rights. The new office, named the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, will consist of more than 200 EPA staff both at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the ten regional offices. According to the agency’s news release, EPA staff will “engage with communities with environmental justice concerns to understand their needs, as well as Tribal, state, and local partners; manage and disburse historic levels of grants and technical assistance; work with other EPA offices to incorporate environmental justice into the agency’s programs, policies, and processes, as allowed by law; and ensure EPA funding recipients comply with applicable civil rights laws.” The office will be led by a new Senate-confirmed Assistant Administrator who will be announced later.

This office will oversee the implementation of the $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act. Additionally, the office will ensure EPA’s implementation of other funding programs within the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and regular appropriations meet or exceed the President’s Justice40 Initiative.

September 26, 2022


Senators Introduce Legislation to Reduce Lead Exposure in Drinking Water


On September 22, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) along with Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced new legislation to reduce exposure to lead from water service lines. The bill titled the Financing Lead Out of Water (FLOW) Act would make it easier for cities and utilities to issue bonds to finance replacement projects. Specifically, the FLOW Act “provides an explicit guarantee in the tax code to allow public water utilities to issue tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the removal and replacement of both the publicly- and privately-owned lead service lines, resolving the full scale of the issue for residents in areas with lead pipes.” The bill also helps funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law make “a deeper impact on replacing the nation’s essential water infrastructure.” The FLOW Act’s full text can be found here.

September 23, 2022


Congress Nears Sept. 30 Deadline to Avoid Government Shutdown


Next Friday, September 30, is the end of the fiscal year and the deadline for Congress to pass a stopgap spending bill to extend funding for federal agencies and avoid a government shutdown. Senate leaders hope to pass a stopgap bill to fund operations temporarily until mid-December. If a deal isn’t reached and funding runs out, federal services would close completely or face significant strain. Additionally, a portion of federal government employees would have their paychecks deferred.


Department of Homeland Security Announces Cybersecurity Grant for State, Local, and Territorial Governments


Last Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced the State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (SLCGP). The funding helps eligible entities address cybersecurity risks and threats to information systems owned or operated by—or on behalf of—state, local and territorial governments. Through two distinct Notice of Funding Opportunities, the SLCGP and Tribal Cybersecurity Grant Program (TCGP) combined will distribute $1 billion over four years to support projects throughout the performance period of up to four years. This year, the TCGP will be released after SLCGP.

In FY 2022, $183.5 million is available under the SLCGP, with varying funding amounts allocated over four years from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This year, each state and territory will receive a funding allocation as determined by the statutory formula:

  • Allocations for states and territories include a base funding level as defined for each entity: 1% for each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico; and 0.25% for American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • State allocations include additional funds based on a combination of state population and rural population totals.
  • 80% of total state allocations must support local entities, while 25% of the total state allocations must support rural entities; these amounts may overlap.

Requirements

Each state and territory must establish a Cybersecurity Planning Committee that coordinates, develops, and approves a Cybersecurity Plan. These plans are meant to guide development of cybersecurity capabilities across the state or territory. The Cybersecurity Planning Committee is responsible for approving the Cybersecurity Plan and prioritizing individual projects. Eligible entities submit Cybersecurity Plans for review and approval as part of their grant application. Initial Cybersecurity Plans will be approved for two years. Subsequent Cybersecurity Plans, building on the investments from the previous year(s), must be submitted for approval annually. Additional information on cost-share and pass-through requirements can be found here.

For more information on the Grant and application process, click here.

 

 


New Report from OIG Highlights Noncompliance in Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs


A new report released by EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) on September 14 summarized OIG’s findings from a review of external audits of nonfederal entities, such as states, local governments, and tribes, that spent EPA grant funds from 2019 through 2021. The review found seven areas of frequent noncompliance with applicable federal laws, regulations, and program requirements. The report concluded that the majority of the 364 instances of noncompliance were associated with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, at 135 and 120 instances respectively. Most compliance issues were within seven different areas: procurement, suspension, and debarment; reporting; allowable costs/cost principles; cash management; activities allowable or unallowable; special tests and provisions; and subrecipient monitoring.

The Agency stressed the importance of this review, stating that with “the expected and significant increase of [ Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act] funds slated to be given to the EPA and subsequently awarded as grants to nonfederal entities, it is important that the EPA monitors grant recipients to ensure that goods and services are acquired in accordance with federal laws, regulations, and terms and conditions of the awards.”


Register Now! ASDWA Webinar Series on Implementation Tools and Best Practices for LSLI and LSLR


ASDWA is pleased to announce our upcoming free webinar series: Implementation Tools and Best Practices for Lead Service Line Inventories and Replacements. This webinar series is open to the public and intended for those in the water industry who are working to #gettheleadout, starting with the identification of lead service lines and the completion of EPA’s lead service line inventory requirement. Webinars will be held on Thursdays from 1:00-2:30 PM ET on the following dates. Registration links for each webinar are included in the table below, you will need to register for each webinar individually. Details for sessions 3-6 will be added as speakers are finalized—register now to save the date. We hope to see you there!

Please feel free to share this information with state staff, water systems, or others in the industry who may benefit from attending these webinars.

 

 

Session 1 -Technologies for Lead Service Inventories and Mapping 11/10/2022 https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9131072859629519884
Session 2 – Consultants’ Roundtable for Inventories and Mapping  12/15/2022 https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8602824592692832527
Session 3 – Topic TBA 1/12/2023 https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2106296368304198923
Session 4 – Topic TBA 2/9/2023 https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3188832636059031819
Session 5 – Topic TBA 3/9/2023 https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8553150856373547279
Session 6 – Topic TBA 4/13/2023 https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8488697484753368078

 

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September 19, 2022


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