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Page 1 of 414

ASDWA, ACWA, ECOS, and ASTSWMO Submit Joint Comments to EPA on Changes to EPCRA PFAS Reporting Requirements and Supplier Notifications for Chemicals of Special Concern

On February 3, ASDWA, the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), and the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) submitted a joint letter of comment to EPA on the “Changes to Reporting Requirements: Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and to Supplier Notifications for Chemicals of Special Concern; Community Right-to-Know Toxic Chemical Release Reporting.” These changes are being proposed for the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA). Together, our organizations represent state and territorial clean water, drinking water, solid waste management and environmental restoration, and environmental quality agencies and leaders who implement national and state environmental statutes, that have the potential to be impacted by PFAS.

The joint comments support EPA’s action to add PFAS to the list of Chemicals of Special Concern with specific requirements for reporting under EPCRA – and remove the de minimis exemption for Supplier Notification Requirements for PFAS and all chemicals on the list of Chemicals of Special Concern. The comments also request the EPA make one specific amendment and pursue a supplemental rulemaking to ensure that all PFAS added to the TRI are also added to the Chemicals of Special Concern List. These proposed changes effectively address some recommendations and concerns in ACWA, ASDWA, and ECOS’ February 2020 comments that generally supported the “Addition of Certain PFAS; Community Right-to-Know Toxic Chemical Release Reporting,” and noted that the “National Defense Authorization Act of 2020 (NDAA) reporting threshold of 100 lbs for the TRI is too high and not appropriate for PFAS specified in the NDAA or for PFAS added to TRI in the future.”

For more information, view the EPA docket here, and read the Association’s comment letter.


February 3, 2023

ASDWA Asks President Biden to Fully Fund the SRFs in Joint Letter from Thirteen Water Organizations

In a February 2 letter, ASDWA joined twelve other water sector associations urging President Biden to fully fund the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) at $3 billion each in the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget. The letter highlights that the Clean Water SRF and the Drinking Water SRF appropriations in 2022 remained the same as before the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) at $1,638,826,000 and $1,126,088,000, respectively. Additionally, the 2022 capitalization grant was used to pay for $838 million in congressionally directed spending (previously called earmarks). These earmarks continued in 2023 and resulted in more than half of
the appropriation – $1.46 billion – being diverted to congressionally directed spending projects. The letter states that due to congressional earmarks over the past two years, annual funding for Clean Water SRF state projects has been cut by 40%, and annual funding for Drinking Water SRF state projects has been cut by 45%.

The letter argues that “[w]ithout SRF subsidized loans, small communities would have few, if any, viable financial options to repair their aging water infrastructure and protect the public health of their citizens.” And “medium and large communities would likely face higher interest rates, which are passed onto households in higher water bills, exacerbating the financial burden on low-income households.” To avoid these outcomes, the thirteen organizations call for President Biden to fund the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs in the 2024 budget to the full authorized amount in federal law, $3 billion each.

Alongside ASDWA, the signatories include the American Public Works Association, the American Water Works Association, the Association of Clean Water Administrators, the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities, the Environmental Policy Innovation Center, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the National Association of Water Companies, the Rural Community Assistance Partnership, the Water and Wastewater Equipment Manufacturers Association, the Water Environment Federation, the WaterNow Alliance, and the WateReuse Association.


EPA Releases Updated Clean Water Act Financial Capability Assessment Guidance

On February 1, EPA released its final updated Clean Water Act Financial Capability Assessment (FCA) Guidance to “help communities ensure public health protections and financial feasibility as they work to comply with the Clean Water Act (CWA).” When discharges from municipal wastewater treatment facilities violate the CWA, EPA sets a schedule for the municipality to implement control measures to address the discharges as soon as possible. The FCA Guidance outlines strategies for communities to follow to support affordable rates while planning investments in water infrastructure.

The FCA Guidance:

  • Looks at ways to lower costs of compliance and reduce or mitigate the financial impact of water service costs on a community’s low-income households when setting schedules for implementing control measures related to CWA violations or when making certain WQS decisions for public entities.
  • Considers households with incomes in the lowest quintile and other poverty factors affecting communities.
  • For schedule development, provides a second option for assessing financial capability through a dynamic financial and rate model that looks at the impacts of rate increases over time on utility customers.
  • Outlines strategies that municipalities can employ to reduce costs and relieve the burden on low-income residents while ensuring clean water for residents. Tools such as variable rate structures, consumer assistance programs, and grants or subsidies from the Clean Water State
    Revolving Fund are some of the tools outlined in the guidance.
  • Strongly encourages additional subsidy or grant consideration from governmental funding sources for entities that are seeking extended schedules due to financial capability constraints.
  • Provides general CWA compliance schedule benchmarks up to 20 years for high financial impacts, or up to 25 years for unusually high impacts, after consideration of financial alternatives.
  • Explains how an FCA would apply to proposed decisions on WQS variances and antidegradation reviews that rely on economic demonstrations. In appropriate cases, these methodologies may also inform decisions about revisions to designated uses, subject to additional analyses.

The FCA Guidance is not legally binding and is meant to be a starting point for negotiations. The updated guidance supersedes the 1997 Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development. EPA released a corresponding fact sheet and a question and answers document.

February 2, 2023

Requests for Nominations to the EPA Science Advisory Board

EPA is inviting nominations of scientific experts to be considered for appointment to the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB). Individuals that are selected for the SAB may participate on one of the many standing committees, including the Drinking Water Committee, which provides advice to the chartered SAB on the scientific and technical aspects of EPA’s national drinking water program. Members of the SAB constitute a distinguished body of non-EPA scientists, engineers, and economists who are nationally and internationally recognized experts in their respective fields. Members are appointed by the EPA Administrator to serve as Special Government Employees for a term of up to three years.

Any interested person or organization may nominate qualified persons to be considered for appointment, and individuals may self-nominate. For more information and to submit a nomination, go here. Nominations should be submitted by March 2, 2023.

February 1, 2023

ASDWA Releases New White Paper on Defining Disadvantaged Communities within the DWSRFs

Today (1/31), ASDWA is releasing a new white paper: “A New Era for the Drinking Water State Revolving Funds: Identifying Ways to Better Assist Disadvantaged Communities.” The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) has specific requirements for state programs distributing these funds, including a 49% subsidy requirement in the form of grants, principal forgiveness, or negative interest rate loans for communities deemed disadvantaged. The Safe Drinking Water Act leaves defining what constitutes a “disadvantaged community” (DAC) up to the state Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) programs. In response to the release of BIL, EPA issued a memorandum: Implementation of the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Provisions on March 8, 2022. Among other things, the memo spelled out the Agency’s expectations for states to evaluate and revise, as needed, their DWSRF DAC definitions.

ASDWA saw the value in collecting and disseminating knowledge between the states regarding their work to evaluate and revise their DAC definitions. This white paper is the culmination of those discussions and includes an analysis of the changes made by states to their DAC definitions after the passage of BIL and a comparison to EPA’s June 2022 report, “DWSRF Disadvantaged Community Definitions: A Reference for States.” It also includes 10 case studies of DWSRF programs that modified either their DAC definitions or their affordability criteria to better meet the needs of their communities. ASDWA intends for state staff to use this document as they work to analyze the viability of their current DAC definitions and affordability criteria, modify these parameters, or continue to evaluate their new definitions. Additionally, the paper will prove useful to those working in the drinking water and environmental justice space. The paper can be found on ASDWA’s Environmental Justice webpage, along with ASDWA’s existing interactive table for state definitions of DAC.


January 31, 2023

New Proposed Rule from EPA Aims to Prevent Companies from Manufacturing or Using Inactive PFAS Without EPA Review

On January 26, EPA released a proposed Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) that would prevent companies from starting or resuming the manufacture, processing, or use of “inactive” PFAS without a complete EPA review and risk determination under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). An “inactive” designation means that a chemical substance has not been manufactured (including imported) or processed in the United States since June 21, 2006. Without this proposed rule, companies could resume the use of an estimated 300 PFAS without notifying EPA.

When TSCA was first passed in 1976, these PFAS were grandfathered in under the statute and allowed to remain in commerce without additional EPA review. Under the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, the Agency must now formally review the safety of all new chemicals before they are allowed into commerce. The proposed SNUR would apply to “inactive” PFAS which are not already subject to a SNUR. The proposal would require companies to notify EPA before they could start or resume the use of any of these PFAS, and EPA would need to conduct a review of health and safety information to determine if their use may present an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. If the Agency determines there is an unreasonable risk, EPA would put necessary restrictions in place before the use could begin.

The proposal is open for public comment until March 27.


EPA Launches Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators in CT, PA, NJ, and WI

Today (1/27), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new initiative, the Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators, to push the country closer to the Biden administration’s goal of removing 100% of the lead service lines throughout the U.S. According to the Agency’s news release, the program “will provide targeted technical assistance services to help underserved communities access funds from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and replace lead pipes that pose risks to the health of children and families.” The initiative is a partnership with the Department of Labor (DOL) and four states: Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. EPA and its partners will work with 40 communities across the four states in 2023. The Accelerators are being announced on the one-year anniversary of the Agency’s Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan.

Through the Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators, the Agency and its partners will provide hands-on support in developing lead service line (LSL) replacement plans, conducting LSL inventories, increasing community outreach and education efforts, and supporting applications for Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding. $15 billion from BIL is dedicated solely to LSL replacement and associated activities. Through the Accelerators initiative, EPA plans to support Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin in strategically deploying BIL funding for LSL replacements. Through this work, EPA plans to “[develop] best practices and creative approaches that can serve as a roadmap for the rest of the country.” Additionally, EPA and DOL will collaborate to “provide tools aimed at increasing job quality standards, equity, and resources to accelerate the development of the skilled water workforce needed to undertake these community and system-wide lead service line replacement programs.” A corresponding fact sheet about the initiative is available online.

ASDWA has been providing states and water systems tools and resources for the past year to help them meet the October 16, 2024 deadline for initial inventories. A year ago, ASDWA published the State Implementation Framework for Lead Service Line Inventory Requirements under EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR). ASDWA is currently halfway through hosting a series of six free webinars to further assist states and water systems with lead service line inventories and replacements and also hosted a series of eight webinars a year ago.

January 27, 2023

FDA Releases Draft Guidance for Action Levels for Lead in Baby Food

On January 24, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the draft guidance, Action Levels for Lead in Food Intended for Babies and Young Children, for industry on action levels for lead in processed baby foods. The document provides action levels for a variety of foods, including processed food packaged in jars, pouches, tubs, and boxes. This action is part of Closer to Zero, which outlines FDA’s approach to reducing exposure to lead, arsenic, cadmium and mercury in foods eaten by babies and young children under two.

The FDA has included differing action levels to account for the variances in consumption levels of different food products. The levels also account for the differences in the amount of lead the food takes up from the environment. The draft guidance contains the following action levels:

  • 10 parts per billion (ppb) for fruits, vegetables (excluding single-ingredient root vegetables), mixtures (including grain and meat-based mixtures), yogurts. custards/puddings and single-ingredient meats.
  • 20 ppb for root vegetables (single ingredient).
  • 20 ppb for dry cereals.

The public can provide comments on the draft guidance until March 27.

Chicago Federal Reserve Outlines Potential Funding and Financing Strategies for Replacing LSLs

The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Chicago Fed) has released a summary from a November 2022 convening discussing the issues of lead service line (LSL) replacement. For the meeting, Chicago Fed brought together municipal water system officials, philanthropists, and innovative leaders who work in public finance or with private capital markets. The convening stemmed from Chicago Fed’s Lead Service Line Replacement project, “an initiative that has leveraged [Chicago Fed’s] expertise in public policy, finance, and community economic development under the Federal Reserve’s broader mission to foster a strong and inclusive economy and promote an efficient financial system.” The summary outlines potential funding and financial strategies for LSL replacement, including:

  • Low-cost federal funding sources such as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, and Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans;
  • Municipal debt markets;
  • Community Reinvestment Act for low- and moderate-income communities; and
  • Attracting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investors.

January 26, 2023

Nine Associations Send Letter to EPA Administrators Requesting Withdrawal of Cybersecurity Memorandum

On Wednesday, January 25, nine associations representing water and wastewater systems and local elected officials sent a letter (below) to EPA Administrator Regan asking for withdrawal of the Agency’s “Memorandum to State Drinking Water Agencies on Public Water System Cybersecurity” that is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The letter details several legal, procedural, and policy concerns that drinking water utilities have regarding the imposition of cybersecurity requirements through the Sanitary Survey Program and offers an alternative process for collaboration to achieve the goal of improved cybersecurity.

Joint Association Letter to EPA on Cybersecurity 2023.01.25

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