Member Pipeline - Clean Water Current - January 26, 2007
January 26, 2007
NACWA Participates in NRC Meeting to Set Scope of Study on Stormwater Issues
NACWA emphasized the need for innovative stormwater management practices in its Powerpoint presentation (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-01-22NAS-NRC.pdf) at a Jan. 22 National Research Council (NRC) committee meeting to determine the scope of a study on Reducing Stormwater Discharge Contributions to Water Pollution. The two-year study, which is being conducted at the request of EPA’s Office of Wastewater Management, will address the links between stormwater pollutant discharges and ambient water quality, assess the current state of stormwater management science, and provide policy recommendations to EPA. While EPA requested that the NRC work within the existing stormwater permit program, NACWA and other groups urged that green infrastructure and a watershed approach, rather than “end-of-pipe” approaches, be pursued as a solution for stormwater management. NACWA and the Philadelphia Water Department, a NACWA member, made presentations on innovative stormwater management and water quality improvement methods, ranging from porous asphalt paving to stream restoration. NACWA also recommended the NRC committee consider ways EPA can encourage innovation and watershed approaches, rather than focus only on numeric effluent limits. NACWA will keep members informed about developments in NRC’s research effort.
Sewer Overflow Grant Bill Introduced; NACWA Urges Members to Push for Support
Last week, Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.), introduced the Water Quality Investment Act of 2007 (H.R. 569), which would authorize $1.5 billion in grants over six years for cities to control sewer overflows and to pay for sewer infrastructure improvements. This effort was also touted last week by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources & Environment, as one of her top priorities in the 110th Congress. In their joint “Dear Colleague” letter (http://www.nacwa.org/private/legreg/outreach/2007-01-27dcl.cfm), Camp and Pascrell seek co-sponsors, noting that “it is imperative that we help localities meet their obligations under the Clean Water Act, as many cannot afford to repair these systems on their own. Sewer system overflows are a growing problem in the United States today.” The letter also points out that in 2003, New Jersey closed more than 30,000 acres of shellfish beds because of a large sanitary sewer overflow (SSO), while Michigan witnessed 829 sewer overflows, spilling more than19 million gallons of sewage in the course of a year. NACWA recommends members contact their representatives and urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 569. The Association will keep members informed about the progress of this important legislation.
NACWA Efforts Result in Decision Not to Regulate SSIs Under Clean Air Act Provision
Consistent with NACWA’s Aug. 14, 2006, comments (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2006-08-14EPA-HQ-OAR-2003-0156.pdf), EPA has formally decided not to regulate sewage sludge or biosolids incinerators (SSIs) under the Clean Air Act (CAA) provisions for other solid waste incinerators (OSWI). EPA announced its decision not to subject SSIs to Section 129 of the CAA (covering OSWIs) in the Jan. 22 Federal Register (http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20071800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2007/E7-820.htm), but reaffirmed that it is planning additional regulations for SSIs under Section 112 of the CAA governing the safe operation of stationary sources. NACWA’s comments reiterated its long-standing position that SSIs are not subject to regulation as OSWIs under the CAA. While EPA had excluded SSIs from the final OSWI rule that was published in December 2005, the Agency announced in June 2006 that it was reconsidering its decision in response to a Sierra Club petition, which claimed that EPA had not properly sought comments on the exclusion. NACWA continues to engage EPA’s air office on the pending development of additional SSI regulations under Section 112.
NACWA Files Brief with Supreme Court on Catskills Interbasin Transfer Case
NACWA filed a brief Jan. 26 with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), a NACWA member agency, in requesting a review of a controversial decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on interbasin water transfers. The June 2006 decision affirmed a previous appeals court finding that NYCDEP was required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for transfers of natural, untreated water from one of its reservoirs to another. NACWA argues in its brief to the Supreme Court that the NPDES program is not the appropriate mechanism with which to regulate these kinds of water transfers and outlines the hardships such a requirement would place on municipalities nationwide. Additionally, EPA is expected to issue a rule soon that would exempt such transfes from the NPDES permits program. The court is expected to decide whether to accept the appeal within the next few months. The brief will be posted on NACWA’s website on Monday (http://www.nacwa.org/private/littrack/#20).
Agriculture Secretary Says Administration Supports Conservation Efforts in Farm Bill
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in remarks at a water resources conference this week that the Bush administration would support a conservation title in the Farm Bill and advocates market-based approaches to helping farmers reduce their impacts on nearby waterways. “At USDA, we have placed a very high priority on improving water quality and quantity and on helping farmers find ways to conserve water,” he said “I look forward to the day when credits for clean water, lower levels of greenhouse gases, and protected wetlands can be traded as freely as corn or soybeans are today.” These statements mimic recommendations NACWA made in its white paper (http://www.nacwa.org/private/legreg/legalrts/la06-5.cfm) on the Farm Bill discussions and demonstrate a key step forward in its advocacy effort. USDA held a series of forums around the country, and Johanns said he would “take seriously” discussions with farmers about the importance of conservation in upcoming talks on the Farm Bill. NACWA also has been working with conservation organizations, through the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, to develop language for strengthening the conservation provisions when the 2002 Farm Bill comes up for reauthorization this year or next. Johanns’ remarks are available on USDA’s website at http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2007/01/0011.xml.
NACWA Initiates New Regional Network to Boost Grassroots Advocacy
The new NACWA Regional Network kicked off this week with the inaugural edition of the NACWA Network News, a monthly newsletter designed to report on key regulatory, legislative, and legal issues facing the clean water community. The NACWA Network, currently comprised of 16 state and regional clean water associations from across the nation, marks a major step forward in NACWA’s efforts to broaden and strengthen the Association’s reach and ensure grassroots support for the clean water community's advocacy priorities. As part of this initiative, the NACWA Network News will be e-mailed to liaisons in each organization, who will then forward it to their members. Additionally, periodic NACWA Network Action Alerts will be sent when specific, time-sensitive issues arise that could benefit from grassroots advocacy efforts and input from Network organizations. The Network also will provide a means for state and regional agencies to report issues of local interest to the national level, allowing NACWA to be informed of important issues that may be percolating in different regions or states. It will widen the audience for NACWA’s efforts and provide an opportunity for potential members to better understand what the Association does and how membership would be beneficial. A complete list of the growing number of organizations that are part of the Network can be viewed at http://www.nacwa.org/private/reg_outreach.cfm. Questions or suggestions for the Network should be directed to Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s counsel, at email@example.com.
2007 NACWA/Wet Weather Partnership CSO Workshop Registration Now Available!
Registration information (http://www.nacwa.org/meetings/) for this year’s CSO Workshop, to be held April 26-27 in Chicago is now available on NACWA’s website. This is the fifth CSO Workshop to be held by NACWA and the Wet Weather Partnership, in cooperation with EPA. This year’s Workshop will highlight key strategies and developments through case studies from communities nationwide, which are leading the effort to implement and comply with the National CSO Control Policy. Each year the Workshop sells out, so register now!
Winter Conference Preparations Complete; Large Turnout Expected
NACWA is expecting a large turnout for its Winter Conference next week in St. Petersburg, Fla. Its compelling program, Global Trends Impacting Public Utilities ...The Rising Cost of Clean, and wonderful location promises something for everyone. Don’t forget that the attire for the week is business casual. Please have safe travels, and we look forward to seeing everyone next week.