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Page 1 of 410

EPA Issues State PFAS Discharge Guidance and Proposed PFAS TRI Data Reporting Rule

This week, EPA issued two press releases announcing a new state guidance memo on PFAS National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to restrict PFAS at their source, and a proposed rule to enhance PFAS Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) data reporting.

The PFAS discharge guidance memo for states entitled, “Addressing PFAS Discharges in NPDES Permits and Through the Pretreatment Program and Monitoring Programs,” is aimed at establishing PFAS monitoring and pollution reduction requirements for Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs), industrial facilities, and stormwater discharges. The memo recommends that states use the most current sampling and analysis methods to identify known or suspected sources of PFAS and use pretreatment and NPDES permitting authorities to help reduce PFAS pollution when issuing new permits or modifying existing permits, including those that have the potential to impact drinking water sources and public health. The recommendations in the memo include:

  • Developing facility-specific, technology-based effluent limits for known industrial dischargers of PFAS.
  • Implementing Best Management Practices (BMPs) such as product substitution, reduction, or elimination of PFAS for Industrial permits.
  • Using BMPs o address PFAS-containing firefighting foams for stormwater permits.
  • Conducting effluent, influent, and biosolids monitoring, and pretreatment program activities for POTWs.
  • Working with POTWs to reduce the amount of PFAS chemicals in biosolids.
  • Recommending public notice for draft permits with PFAS-specific conditions to potentially affected downstream public water systems.

For more information, read the press release and view the guidance memo.

The Proposed PFAS TRI Data Reporting Rule entitled, “Changes to Reporting Requirements for PFAS and to Supplier Notifications for Chemicals of Special Concern; Community Right-to-Know Toxic Chemical Release Reporting,” is aimed at improving Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) PFAS reporting. Information collected through TRI helps inform communities about nearby PFAS use and supports decision-making by companies, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the public. The new proposed rule would list PFAS as “chemicals of special concern,” and eliminate an exemption that allows facilities to avoid disclosing their PFAS releases and other waste management quantities when PFAS are used in minimal, or de minimis, concentrations. This change will also help ensure that purchasers of mixtures and trade name products containing these chemicals are informed of their presence in mixtures and products they purchase. In addition to PFAS, the proposed rule would also make the de minimis exemption unavailable for purposes of supplier notification requirements to downstream facilities for all “chemicals of special concern,” which includes other certain persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals like lead, mercury, and dioxins. For more information, read the press release, visit the EPA website, and view the Federal Register notice.


December 7, 2022

US Water Alliance Releases Racial Equity Toolkit for Water Utilities

The US Water Alliance has released a new tool, the Racial Equity Toolkit, designed to enable water utilities to work towards improving their racial equity practices and outcomes both within the utility itself and its customers/community. The US Water Alliance highlights that utilities “can use the Toolkit to understand how current policies, practices, and programs continue to promote and exacerbate racial inequities.” The toolkit provides resources to help utilities “identify opportunities to improve their internal operations, actions, and external relationships to better center the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.”

The toolkit focuses on five thematic areas: Organizational Development, Community Partnerships, Workforce Development, Capital Projects, and Customer Service. In a phased approach, the toolkit outlines objectives and actions for each focus area that a water utility can take to advance racial equity. The US Water Alliance intends the toolkit to be a living document that will evolve along with the water sector.


December 2, 2022

Two Water Webinars on December 8th

On Thursday, December 8, two webinars are being held that will cover several topics of interest to state drinking water programs.

  • Emerging Contaminants Update: Microplastics in Source Water & PFAS in Wastewater/Biosolids: From 11:00 am – 12:00 pm ET, Jacobs Consulting will host an “In the kNOW” that focuses on the risks associated with microplastics pollution in surface water and the environment and discuss PFAS regulation development and technology options for removal in biosolids. Speakers will also provide an overview of processes affecting the transport and removal of PFAS and microplastics in bioinfiltration systems and highlight how their design can be modified to improve their removal. More information about the webinar and registration is available here.
  • EPA Superfund and Opportunistic Pathogens Research Webinar: From 12:00 – 1:30 pm ET, EPA will host a webinar as part of the monthly series, “EPA Meets the World: a Research Webinar.” The following topics will be covered during the webinar. More information about the webinar and registration is available here.
    • EPA Office of Superfund and Technology Innovation and Field Services Integration Division Overview
    • EPA Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) Superfund Technology Assessment
    • Water Research Foundation Opportunistic Pathogens Research Overview
    • Sampling and Monitoring Strategies for Opportunistic Pathogens in Drinking Water Distribution Systems
    • Occurrence of Legionella in Drinking Water Distribution Systems


EPA Approves Final SDWA Variance for Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program Plan

US EPA has approved Denver Water’s comprehensive approach for reducing lead in drinking water through the issuance of a final variance under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The variance allows Denver Water to continue to implement a set of actions, called the Lead Reduction Program Plan (LRPP), which work together to reduce lead in Denver’s drinking water.  Denver Water is also receiving $76 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to accelerate the pace of the lead service line replacement actions specified in the plan. In 2012 Denver Water exceeded the lead action level and was required to complete a corrosion control treatment study. As a result of the study, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment modified Denver Water’s designation of optimal corrosion control treatment (OCCT), requiring Denver Water to install and operate orthophosphate as OCCT by 2020, in accordance with the Lead and Copper Rule. In September 2019, Denver Water submitted a request for a variance from the OCCT requirements in the LCR and instead implement a suite of actions under its LRPP, including:

  • Developing a LSL inventory to identify and track lead service line replacements (LSLRs);
  • Initiating a lead removal filter program for homes with LSLs and certain homes with copper pipe with lead solder;
  • Conducting an accelerated LSLR program to replace all LSLs in 15 years;
  • Operating increased pH/alkalinity adjustment as corrosion control treatment for all customers; and
  • Implementing a communications, outreach, and education plan.

Under SDWA Section 1415(a)(3), a variance may be approved by EPA if an alternative treatment technique is at least as efficient in lowering the contaminant in question and is implemented by the water system; in granting this variance, EPA has concluded that the steps Denver Water is taking under the LRPP are equally as efficient in lowering the levels of lead in drinking water as the application of orthophosphate as OCCT. EPA approved this variance in 2019–the first ever lead-related SDWA variance. After evaluating data from Denver Water’s LLRP, EPA is approving another variance allowing Denver Water to continue with the current plan, indicating that Denver’s plan has been as effective as the application of orthophosphate for reducing lead in drinking water. Although not a part of the variance decision, approval of the variance also has the added benefit of not adding to the levels of phosphorous loading to Denver’s wastewater. “Local, state and federal partners collaborated to develop and implement this innovative approach, which has proven to be a success for public health, environmental protection and environmental justice over the last three years,” said Ron Falco, Safe Drinking Water Program Manager for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is excited to continue overseeing this great work.”

View EPA’s Press Release here.

Learn more about EPA’s Variance Approval.

Learn more about Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program.


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December 1, 2022

Register now for ASDWA’s free webinar “SDWA Turns 48: A Reflection of the Regulatory Landscape and What’s Next”

Register now for ASDWA’s free webinar “SDWA Turns 48: A Reflection of the Regulatory Landscape and What’s Next”

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was initially signed on December 16, 1974, and this one-hour free webinar on its 48th anniversary (December 16, 2022, from 2:30-3:30 EST) will summarize the SDWA history and the current regulatory landscape in the first half-hour. The second half-hour will be a forward look towards the 50th anniversary of the SDWA on December 16, 2024, noting that EPA and the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA) on October 18, 2022. The webinar will be an opportunity to get the drinking water community to start thinking about what’s worked, what hasn’t worked so well, and what data or information would be needed to make informed decisions on what might need to be revised in the SDWA sometime in the future.

Register for the webinar here:  

A recording of the event will be posted to the webinar event page after the event.


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November 29, 2022

Congress Passes Legislation Averting a Rail Strike-Bill Sent to the President to Sign

On Thursday, December 1st, the Senate passed legislation previously approved by the House that prevents a rail strike that was scheduled to start on December 9th. President Biden is expected to sign the bill in a timely manner.

Besides all of the other shipping disruptions for almost everything in commerce, for the water sector, disruptions in rail service would have impacted the inbound and outbound deliveries of chemical manufacturers and suppliers. As a result, the delivery of critical treatment chemicals to water and wastewater systems could have been impacted. More information on potential water and wastewater supply chain impacts and recommended preparatory actions can be found here.


CEQ Releases Version 1.0 of Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

On November 22, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) launched version 1.0 of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). The tool includes an interactive map and uses indicators of burdens in eight categories: climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, and workforce development. The screening tool is meant to help federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities at the census tract level that could benefit from the Biden Administration’s Justice40 initiative. The Justice40 initiative aims to provide 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments in climate, clean energy, and related areas to disadvantaged communities.

The CJEST incorporates dozens of metrics, including proximity to wastewater discharge, to help inform agency decisions. The tool utilizes publicly available, nationally consistent datasets, such as the National Risk Index, the American Community Survey, and the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI) Model from 2020 as compiled by EPA’s EJSCREEN. A beta version of the tool was released in February of this year and the public was encouraged to provide feedback. ASDWA provided comments to CEQ stating the association’s appreciation for CEQ’s work but underscored the need to ensure that federal agency activities are streamlined and avoid duplicative efforts. CEQ’s November 22 announcement outlines the changes made to the tool after reviewing public input.


November 23, 2022

ASDWA’s Letter on Impacts to SRFs from Earmarks

ASDWA recently sent a letter to the Hill (below) to educate Members and their staff about the impacts to the State Revolving Loan Funds (SRFs) from Congressionally Directed Spending, otherwise known as earmarks. The current use of the State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) funding for the earmarks, as opposed to separate appropriations, impacts the long-term sustainability of the SRFs even with the additional infrastructure funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). With Congress using the SRF capitalization grants to fund “earmarks,” DWSRF funding was reduced by $393 million or 35% and, for the CWSRF, the funding was reduced by $425 million or 27%.

Additionally, the SRFs are state operated programs. States expend a significant amount of time and resources with staff, project management, project inspections, day-to-day operations, etc. The “earmarks” reduce the funding through set-asides that is available for state staff to appropriately manage these critical funding programs and to provide the appropriate technical assistance to disadvantaged communities.

Beyond the negative impacts on long-term viability, using the SRF capitalization grants to fund “earmarks” ignores the states’ proven processes for prioritizing the limited funding for water infrastructure. As a result, construction of the highest priority projects in a state will be delayed, which can potentially increase the risk to public health and the environment.

ASDWA’s letter parallels an earlier letter from the Council of Infrastructure Financing Authorities (CIFA) that raises the same concerns with the current funding process for earmarks.

ASDWA Appropriations Earmarks Letter 11102022 Final

EPA Webinar on Transforming the Water Workforce

On Thursday, December 15th from 1:00 – 2:30 pm (eastern time), EPA will host a webinar entitled, “Transforming the Water Workforce.” During the webinar, Korey Gray and Sharon Talley of DC Water will present how they developed a sustainable workforce. This is part of an ongoing series of Water Workforce Webinars to provide information across the water sector on ways utilities and others are addressing the challenges of building and maintaining a sustainable water workforce for the future. Register for the webinar here.

November 22, 2022

Inspector General Finds that EPA Met AWIA Requirements but Needs to Improve Oversight

According to a recent report from EPA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Agency generally met the water system security requirements in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA) but needs to improve its oversight of the systems. The report found that EPA did not provide adequate oversight to ensure the compliance of water systems—particularly small water systems—with AWIA requirements. Specifically, EPA did not maintain accurate contact information for water systems, publish guidance regarding enforcement actions against noncompliant water systems, provide sufficient assistance to support small water system compliance, or review the quality of the risk and resilience assessments and emergency response plans.

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