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Western States Held Source Water Protection Meeting this Week with Technical Assistance Providers

November 20, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines, Source Water     

On November 17, the Nevada Integrated Source Water Protection Program held a virtual workshop aimed at maximizing state source water protection partnerships with technical assistance providers. Approximately 60 people attended the workshop representing state source water protection programs and EPA staff in Regions 8, 9, and 10, technical assistance (TA) provider organizations including Rural Communities Assistance Corporation RCAC), the Environmental Finance Center Network (EFCN), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), and the National Rural Water Association (NRWA), as well as EPA Headquarters, GWPC, and ASDWA.

Key points from the workshop presentations by TA providers and discussions included opportunities to work together on:

  • Building partnerships with multiple water utilities and partners to protect a common drinking water source to help leverage resources and funding.
  • Coordinating across sectors (e.g., power, transportation agriculture, parks) for implementing projects with mutual benefits.
  • Helping communities build resilience by Including source water in utility asset management plans and considering options for natural and grey infrastructure needs.
  • Assisting drinking water utilities with developing source water protection plans and implementation actions.
  • Considering options for source water assessment maps, including very simple maps and google earth, as well as more complex GIS platforms.
  • Creating state and local source water “collaboratives” with multiple partners.

For more information about the workshop, view the agenda here.


EPA Sends Invitations to 3 States for SWIFIA Program

November 19, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines, DWSRF     

The SWIFIA program, established in the 2018 America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA), is a loan program within the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program that is exclusively for state infrastructure financing authority borrowers, commonly known as State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. In July 2020, EPA announced the availability of SWIFIA loans along with a deadline of September 15, 2020 for states to submit letters of interest. EPA received three letters of interest from California, Iowa, and Rhode Island and is now inviting all three candidates to apply for $695 million in SWIFIA loans. This funding will help states increase their capacity to finance infrastructure projects to improve water quality and protect public health. Before Congress established the SWIFIA program, two state SRFs were selected to receive WIFIA loans: in 2019, EPA closed a $436 million WIFIA loan with the Indiana Finance Authority and the New Jersey Infrastructure Financing Authority was invited to apply for a $149 million WIFIA loan. For more information about the SWIFIA program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia/what-swifia.

Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) | US EPA

 


New EPA Research Funding Opportunity: Deployment of Innovative Water Technologies RFA and Informational Webinar

November 19, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines, Small Systems, Source Water     

EPA announced a new funding opportunity to facilitate multi-state cooperation and adoption of innovative water technologies.

Deployment of Innovative Water Technologies for Very Small Drinking Water Systems, Areas Served by Private Wells and Source Waters Request for Applications (RFA)

URL: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/deployment-innovative-water-technologies-very-small-drinking-water-systems-areas-0
Open Date: November 16, 2020
Close Date: January 12, 2021
Informational Webinar: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/new-epa-research-funding-opportunity-deployment-innovative-water-technologies-very

EPA is seeking research that provides technical assistance to deploy innovative water technologies to very small public drinking water systems (serving 500 persons or fewer) or areas served by private wells/source waters. Applicants should focus on how states consider sources of performance data and other information to make decisions to allow innovative water technologies to be used and establish effective ways for multiple states to cooperate to prevent or minimize state-by-state testing protocols.

Expected outcomes of research from this RFA include:

  • Reduced economic costs of deploying demonstrated innovative water technologies;
  • Improved public health and reduced risks of deploying demonstrated innovative water technologies; and
  • Streamlined approval process for demonstrated innovative technologies that provide clean drinking water supplies with minimal environmental impact.

Please note: Cost-sharing is required for this award. Each applicant must contribute a minimum non-federal cost share/match of 54% of the federal funds awarded. This is equivalent at a minimum to 35% of the total project costs.

This RFA is congressionally directed through the explanatory language of the FY20 appropriations bill and America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, Public Law 115-270, Section 2007: Innovative Water Technology Grant Program.

For information on eligibility, project specifications, or how to apply, visit https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/deployment-innovative-water-technologies-very-small-drinking-water-systems-areas-0

Learn more about the Safe and Sustainable Water Resources (SSWR) Research Program.
Learn more about EPA Research Grants.


Informational Webinar for Applicants:

Date: Dec. 8, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
Register: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/new-epa-research-funding-opportunity-deployment-innovative-water-technologies-very

Join us for an informational webinar on the Deployment of Innovative Water Technologies for Very Small Drinking Water Systems, Areas Served by Private Wells and Source Waters RFA. The webinar will cover application information and provide an overview of what has already been provided in the RFA.

Webinar Objectives:

  • Share general information and information on research areas for the RFA (EPA Project Officer)
  • Learn about the administrative, submission, eligibility and peer review processes (EPA Eligibility, Submission, and Peer Review Officers)
  • Question & answer session

A copy of the webinar presentation will be available at https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/deployment-innovative-water-technologies-very-small-drinking-water-systems-areas-0.


Register for the 2020 Water Utility Resilience Virtual Forum

November 19, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines, Events     

Join the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, in partnership with WaterISAC and The Water Research Foundation, for the 2020 Water Utility Resilience Virtual Forum on December 1 and 2. Each day from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET, you are invited to engage with water sector leaders and peers to explore recent events that have caused challenges to water system resilience. With an agenda that combines a speaker presentation, panel discussions, and a virtual breakout session, this forum will deliver the timely topics you need to develop resiliency models to plan for the future. Register for free today.

In light of natural disasters, contamination, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the need for water utilities to examine resiliency has intensified. The town manager of Paradise, Calif., Kevin Phillips will open the forum by sharing his experiences and recovery strategies from two “black swan” events: the worst wildfire in his state’s history and the pandemic. He will discuss the need for effective cross-sector communication in rebuilding a system that has been devastated. Following his session, a panel of water sector leaders will explore how they have adjusted their approaches to resilience amid the pandemic and increased national focus on racial and social issues.

The next afternoon, a panel of leaders from a global credit ratings agency and urban utilities will share insight from past economic downturns and discuss the pandemic’s financial impact on utilities, as they face the potential of decreased revenues, suspending shutoffs, providing payment relief, and dealing with increased costs. The panel will also explore how pandemic-related issues are compounding existing infrastructure funding and affordability challenges. The forum will conclude with virtual breakout sessions to allow you to reflect on forum topics as they relate to utility leadership.


FY21 Congressional Appropriations Update

November 18, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines, Legislative     

Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee released all twelve of its Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) spending bills. The Senate’s appropriation plan for EPA funds the agency at approximately level funding with FY2020. This includes:

  • $1.126 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) (equal to FY20)
  • $1.639 billion for the Clean Water SRF (equal to FY20)
  • $60 million for WIFIA (equal to FY20)
  • $110 million for Public Water System Supervision Grant (a $4 million increase from FY20)

The House passed 10 out 12 of the bills earlier this summer. Now that the Senate has released its bills, negotiations for final omnibus spending package are underway. With the current continuing resolution set to expire on December 11th, Congress is on a short deadline to come to agreement on FY21 spending. It’s possible, perhaps likely, we will see another continuing resolution that funds the government into the next year, giving Congress more time to negotiate and pass an omnibus package.

For a detailed comparison of both House and Senate appropriations bills for relevant EPA programs, see the FY21 EPA Appropriations Summary Chart prepared by ASDWA.


Update on California’s Needs Assessment and Drinking Water Fund

November 13, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines     

This week, California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office published a report summarizing the progress and remaining needs of California’s $130 million Safe and Affordable Drinking Water (SADW) Fund and the Safe and Affordable Funding for Equity and Resilience (SAFER) program. Both initiatives were established to work together to address the more than one million Californians who currently Financial Assistance Programs - Grants and Loans | California State Water Quality Control Boardlack access to safe drinking water, primarily because they receive water from systems and domestic wells that do not consistently meet those established standards. The programs are also aiming to address affordability issues in the states, as some residents pay in excess of 5 percent of their income on their water bills, more than double the affordability threshold of 2.5% MHI used by EPA. California’s small systems struggle the most and drinking water problems disproportionately affect Latino, rural, and lower‑income communities in the state. The SAFER program is performing a comprehensive statewide needs assessment, expected to be completed by June 2021 and planned expenditures from the SADW Fund in 2020‑21 include construction ($49 million), technical assistance ($30 million), and emergency water supplies and interim solutions ($19 million).


New Jersey Files Two New PFAS Lawsuits for Chemical Company Contamination

November 12, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines, Source Water     

On November 10, the New Jersey Attorney General and the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed two new lawsuits against chemical companies for PFAS contamination to recover Natural Resource Damages (NRDs). The lawsuits are the latest NRD complaints filed since 2018, with three other cases that are pending, as well as additional voluntary settlements, that have recovered millions of dollars to compensate the people of New Jersey for their losses, to be reinvested into the affected communities and resources.

One lawsuit is against Solvay Specialty Polymers and Arkema for PFAS drinking water contamination from a Gloucester County facility. The “complaint seeks to compel Solvay to promptly and thoroughly investigate and remediate the extent of its pollution, protect drinking water sources, and restore natural resources damaged by the hazardous substances (including PFAS, VOCs, and PCBs) that Solvay continues to release into the state’s environment, including into our air, surface water, and groundwater, and to publicly disclose information regarding the health and environmental impacts of its operations.”

The other lawsuit against Honeywell seeks to restore NRDs along the Hudson River in Bergen County. Honeywell is the survivor corporation to various predecessor companies that are accountable for discharges of contaminants into the ground and water at and near the Quanta Resources Superfund Site. The “complaint seeks the award of clean-up costs to the State and compensation for NRDs resulting from decades of coal tar processing…manufacture of paving and roofing materials, and…waste oil storage and recycling that were halted in 1981.”

For more information, read the New Jersey news release here.


Register for EE2020’s November 19 Webinar on Low Code Platforms!

November 12, 2020      Data Management, Events, SDWIS Prime, Webinars     

Interested in learning more about low-code approaches to application development? Check out the next installment of the EE2020 webinar series is set for Thursday, November 19 at 1:00 PM ET. Visit the  EE2020 meeting website to reserve your spot today.

Do We Even Need Programmers? Low-Code Software and the Future of Environmental Protection Systems
Date: November 19, 2020
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 PM ET
Register: https://www.eenationalmeeting.net/november-2020-1
The link to join the webinar will be distributed to registrants via email shortly before the webinar begins.  

About the Webinar:

The next phase of digital transformation—from systems of record to GIS and data analytics—relies on no-code and low code platforms. These systems allow people with very little programming knowledge to create robust cloud applications in order to meet a wide variety of needs. Agencies are beginning to use these systems outside of traditional IT to meet emerging needs. However, these systems are not without their challenges. They require a new set of skills and a different governance model to achieve their full potential. Agencies will need to adjust their work to support this emerging cloud technology or face a wave of organizational chaos. This panel will outline the promises and pitfalls of the no-code/low-code platforms along with suggestions on how to fully leverage this new approach to tool and service development.

For registration questions, please email: krakouskas@ecos.org.


EPA Schedules 2020 National Drinking Water Advisory Council Meeting

November 11, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines     

EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water announced a virtual meeting of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) to review Safe Drinking Water Act programs for fiscal year 2021 and to receive input from Council members. The meeting will be held on December 2, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., eastern time and is open to the general public. Registration information and additional details will be provided in the meeting agenda, which will be posted on EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/​ndwac prior to the meeting. EPA is accepting both oral and written statements, both due to EPA by November 24, 2020.


National Academies Announce December Meeting on Legionella

November 9, 2020      Drinking Water Headlines     

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s Water Science and Technology Board is hosting a public meeting on management of Legionella in water systems. More information and registration is available here. Management of Legionella in Water Systems | The National Academies Press

The meeting will be held virtually on December 10th and will provide an opportunity for discussion of the 2020 NASEM report, Management of Legionella in Water Systems. Topics to be discussed during the meeting include:

  • Pros and cons of monitoring for Legionella species vs. Legionella pneumophila
  • Making action levels and thresholds more operational and specific to different exposure routes, to different water system types, and to different locations within complex water systems
  • What method(s) should be used, and how would the 50,000 CFU/mL threshold be recalculated for molecular methods
  • Collaborative national survey of Legionella


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