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New APHL and EPA Citizen Science Quality Assurance Toolkit

September 24, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) worked with EPA to develop the new Citizen Science Quality Assurance Toolkit to facilitate the use of the previously developed EPA Citizen Science Quality Assurance Handbook. The toolkit was developed to optimize the value of citizen science data and collectively with the handbook, help citizen science groups systematically plan, carry out and document their projects through project plans. In collaboration with citizen science groups, federal, state, tribal and local agencies may expand their own data collection efforts by providing quality assurance guidance so the project data can be used for their intended purpose.

Citizen science encompasses a wide variety of projects—from community science activities to public participation in scientific research—and can answer important environmental and public health questions. Citizen-led projects can produce valuable information to answer these questions, but quality assurance during the data gathering process is critical.

For more information, also read the APHL and EPA Guide for Government Agencies and visit the EPA citizen science website.

Attend the Upcoming WLA Security Summit and CISA National Cybersecurity Summit

September 24, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

EPA’s Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) is hosting an upcoming 3-day Security Summit that will include discussions on challenges with climate change and cybersecurity and Water Security Division, partner utilities, and laboratories will share resources to promote preparedness. The WLA Summit will also include presentations on environmental justice and a collaborative tabletop exercise based off a contamination scenario.

The Summit will be held on November 16-18 at 11 am (Eastern). For more information and to register for the WLA Security Summit, click here.

Additionally, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will be hosting its 4th Annual National Cybersecurity Summit. The CISA Summit will be held throughout October on the 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. For more information and to register, click here.

Congressional Update: Infrastructure & NDAA

September 24, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

House Democrats are planning to work over the weekend to get set up for votes next week on the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure package and the larger $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which both include funding and provisions addressing water infrastructure. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is working to unify House Democrats to vote in favor of both measures, which are central to President Biden’s agenda.

This week, the House of Representatives passed the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (HR 5305) – also known as a continuing resolution to keep the government open. If approved by the Senate and signed into law, this bill would extend funding for the federal government through Dec. 3, 2021, and raise the debt ceiling through Dec. 16, 2022. To avoid a federal government shutdown, the Senate must vote to approve, and President Biden must sign this bill into law before September 30th.

On Thursday, the House passed its version of the bipartisan FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after considering hundreds of amendments. The massive $768 billion bill outlines the Pentagon’s spending for the coming fiscal year is considered a must-pass piece of legislation that has been enacted annually for the past 60 years. The amendments considered Thursday covered several divisive issues, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. The final House version includes an amendment to address PFAS contamination impacting military bases and communities across the country. The amendment closes a loophole in the Toxics Release Inventory reporting process for some PFAS, which has allowed manufacturers to underreport PFAS releases to the environment, and a prohibition on the incineration of PFAS waste by the Department of Defense until it adheres to requirements set by the 2020 NDAA. Up next is the Senate’s consideration of their version of the NDAA. Assuming the Senate passes it, a House-Senate conference will negotiate differences before both chambers vote on sending the bill to the President for signature.

Upcoming Full NDWAC Meeting on CCR Revisions

September 24, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

EPA will be hosting another listening session for the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) CCR Working Group:

  • September 28, from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm ET

Additionally, on October 12, 2021 from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm (ET) the NDWAC CCR Working Group is scheduled to present their recommendations for revisions to CCR requirements to the full NDWAC.  Following this meeting, the next step would be for the full NDWAC to review the Working Group’s recommendations and determine what recommendations will be submitted to EPA. Details for providing written and verbal statements can be found in the Federal Register here.


ASDWA Submits CCL 5 Comments

September 17, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

Today, ASDWA submitted its comments on the draft fifth Contaminant Candidate List (CCL 5). ASDWA included the following in its comments:

The CCL Process

  • ASDWA emphasizes its support of the regulatory development process outlined in the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) amendments, including the CCL, the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR), Regulatory Determination, and Six Year Review, which is vastly preferable to regulating based on arbitrary target numbers or focusing on contaminants with high media profiles.
  • ASDWA expresses concern with the Agency’s approach for UCMR 5, specifically that the final UCMR 5 did not include many contaminants identified in CCL 4 where national occurrence data is needed.
  • ASDWA recommends that EPA provide further details on why contaminants from CCL 4 were not also listed on CCL 5 when no regulatory determination was made.

Moving Forward with Regulatory Determinations

  • ASDWA encourages EPA to make a regulatory determination for any CCL contaminants with adequate data, specifically the 23 on CCL 5 that have nationally representative finished water occurrence data and qualifying health assessments.
  • ASDWA emphasizes that the CCL is not intended to be a permanent home for contaminants.

Contaminant Groups

  • ASDWA supports contaminant grouping but requests clarity on how groups of contaminants will be treated for Regulatory Determinations and UCMR selection as well as how contaminants within the groups will be prioritized for research.
  • ASDWA recommends that EPA reevaluate the definition of PFAS used in CCL 5 to be more inclusive of structurally different PFAS.

ASDWA also included comments on contaminants listed on the Draft CCL 5 that are a particular concern for state drinking water programs. These contaminants included: manganese, 1,4-dioxane, PFAS, DBPs, Legionella, and cyanotoxins. To view ASDWA’s full comments, click here.


Congressional Update: Build Back Better Plan

September 17, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

This week, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce advanced provisions of a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package. The Democrats are hoping to pass the reconciliation package as a companion to a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that has bipartisan support. The reconciliation package, which is being referred to as the Build Back Better Plan, aims to expand education, health care, and childcare support, address climate change, and increase investments in various types of infrastructure, including additional funding for lead service line removal. Some highlights of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s section of the bill include:

  • $100 million for Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) grants to states;
  • $30 billion for lead service line replacement through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund;
  • $500 million for grants for water systems to improve resiliency to natural disasters; and
  • $700 million for grants to reduce lead in drinking water at schools

While the $1 trillion infrastructure package has bipartisan support, Republicans do not support the $3.5 trillion package. Therefore, Senate Democrats are using budget reconciliation to pass the bill with a simple majority vote. However, Democrats must convince moderate party members to back the bill to achieve a majority, some of which have raised concerns about the size and scope of the program.

Additionally, the end of the fiscal year is approaching without an approved spending bill for FY22. Congress plans to pass a continuing resolution to fund government operations and avoid a government shutdown. The House Committee on Rules is planning to meet on Monday, September 20, to take up the stopgap funding bill.

Free Webinar on 9/23 on Strategies for Managing COVID-Related Cost Increases

September 14, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

From customer-facing services to capital improvement projects, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause extensive delays throughout the water sector. A shortage of commodities to complete needed projects coupled with increasing costs are creating multiple uncertainties. In response to these uncertainties, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and Carollo Engineers will host a webinar, Disrupting the Disruptions: Mitigating COVID-related Construction Costs and Delays on Thursday, September 23 at 2:00 p.m. ET.

The speakers will help the water sector better understand the challenges in completing construction projects due to commodity pricing strains and supply chain issues. Leaders from water utilities, a construction executive, and a chief estimator will comprise the panel. The speakers will examine the responses to the evolving circumstance, address stakeholder concerns, and explore mitigation strategies. Participants will have the opportunity to ask the panel questions. Register before September 23rd.

ASDWA’s Annual Conference is Going Virtual

September 10, 2021      ASDWA Conferences, Drinking Water Headlines, Events     

Out of an abundance of caution related to the continuing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, ASDWA is converting the October 18-21, 2021 Annual Conference to a virtual conference and is now offering registration at no cost.

A surge in cases across the U.S., uncertainties surrounding organizations’ travel bans and restrictions, challenges in debating and implementing potential onsite safety protocols such as vaccine/mask mandates or social distancing, and the emergence of the highly contagious Delta variant led ASDWA to make this difficult decision for the health and safety of our attendees and staff. Although we would prefer to see all of you in person and everyone is suffering from fatigue from the two-dimensional experience, we have developed an agenda to ensure that the shift to virtual still provides unique opportunities to learn about, and to discuss, the critical drinking water issues that we are all facing.

More information, including the block agenda and new registration form, is now available on the ASDWA 2021 Annual Conference web page. Please note the following dates and information for registering to attend the virtual sessions.

  • Monday and Tuesday, October 18-19, 2021: General registration is available for the opening session and topic sessions on Lead Service Line Inventories, California SAFER, PFAS, and Workforce.
  • Wednesday and Thursday, October 20-21, 2021: Registration is limited for the State-EPA Roundtable (for states and EPA only) on October 20 and the States-Only Roundtable on October 21.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We look forward to meeting again in person in 2022 and to meeting with everyone virtually next month!

Upcoming Webinar – 20 Years of EPA Homeland Security Research

September 10, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

EPA is hosting an upcoming webinar – 20 Years of EPA Homeland Security Research – Looking Back and Moving Forward. This webinar will explore the role EPA has played in response to events such as September 11th and the Amerithrax incident. It will discuss how this incident and the events of September 11th necessitated the establishment of a Homeland Security Research Program at the U.S. EPA.

The Homeland Security Research Program provides scientific and technical expertise to help the United States to prepare for, respond to, and recover from a potential or active chemical, biological, or radiological attack. Through the years, the Homeland Security Research Program has built up capability through a foundation of research to assist emergency responders and decision-makers on a number of incidents, such as ricin, water contamination, Fukushima, and Ebola. As the Program fulfills its mission by responding to current events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, fentanyl contaminations, and cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, it also look to the future to apply what we know now to what’s potentially to come and ensure the United States is able to prepare for, respond to, and recover from those events. For more information, click here.

DATE: September 16

TIME: 2:00-3:00 pm (Eastern)

REGISTER: To register, click here.

Upcoming NDWAC CCR Listening Sessions

September 10, 2021      Drinking Water Headlines     

EPA has hosted several ongoing Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) calls with its National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC) CCR Working Group. The meetings are open for public listening, see the schedule below for the next series of meetings:

September 14, from 10:00am – 12:30pm ET

Register here.

September 16, from 2:30pm – 5pm ET

Register here.

September 21, from 10:30am – 1pm ET

Register here.

September 23, from 2:30pm – 5pm ET

Register here.

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