Member Pipeline - Clean Water Current - February 16, 2007
February 16, 2007
NACWA Supports EPA Effluent Guidelines Plan in Arguments Before Appeals Court
NACWA argued in support of EPA’s effluent limitation guidelines (ELG) program before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week in Our Children’s Earth Foundation (OCEF) v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The case involves a challenge to the ELG program by OCEF, which argues that EPA must conduct a substantial review of the technology underlying each guideline every year. As an intervenor in the case, NACWA, with support from its Targeted Action Fund (TAF), urged the Ninth Circuit to affirm the trial court’s finding that EPA is implementing the ELG program properly and consistent with Congress’ intent.
NACWA emphasized to the court that 30 years of case law and the legislative history of the Clean Water Act (CWA) support EPA’s recent ELG program actions. The three-judge panel focused on the language of the CWA and whether EPA's duty to “review” ELGs every year included a non-discretionary duty to evaluate the details of each ELG. One judge seemed convinced that nothing in the CWA mandates this type of review. The two others seemed to believe EPA has significant discretion in how it chooses to carry out its mandatory “review.” The panel focused on CWA language that EPA shall “review, and revise [ELGs] if necessary.” A decision from the Ninth Circuit is expected in the coming months. More information on this case may be found on NACWA’s Member Pipeline (http://www.nacwa.org/private/littrack/#childrenef).
NACWA Seeks EPA Review of Fabrics Containing Copper as Biocide
NACWA asked EPA, in a Feb. 15 letter (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-02-15copper.pdf), to review fabric products containing copper as a biocide. These fabrics utilize copper to inhibit the growth of odor-causing bacteria and fungi. However, the laundering of these fabrics may also cause copper particles to be released into the sewer system, ultimately leading to higher copper concentrations in wastewater effluent. NACWA asked EPA to consider registering these products under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) in order to prevent harmful effects of copper releases on the environment. “Registration under FIFRA would ensure that the environmental impacts of these products are more thoroughly reviewed before being sold to consumers,” the letter said. The copper-containing fabrics are examples of the growing number of household products containing new “ingredients” that may end up in the sewer system and negatively affect water quality, such as triclosan in soaps and permethrin-impregnated clothing. NACWA successfully requested that EPA review washing machines that release silver ions as a disinfectant, and EPA will reportedly be requiring registration of the machines as a pesticide (http://www.nacwa.org/private/news/20061121.cfm). NACWA is continuing to address contaminants from consumer products and other sources through the Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Committee and Emerging Contaminant Workgroup, and will keep members informed of new developments.
NACWA, NRDC to Recruit Signatories to Board-Approved Green Infrastructure Statement
NACWA and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) began outreach efforts this week to recruit organizations to sign on to a Green Infrastructure Statement of Support (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-02-16green.pdf). The statement, developed by NACWA and NRDC in consultation with EPA and the Low Impact Development (LID) Center, was endorsed by NACWA’s Board of Directors at the Winter Conference in St. Petersburg, Fla. It outlines the goals and benefits of green infrastructure and expresses support for its use in a variety of clean water communities, including those with combined or separate sewers and municipal separate storm sewer systems. The statement is non-regulatory in nature and does not require any specific action on the part of utilities. Its endorsement by NACWA’s Board signals the Association’s continued implementation of a strategic watershed-based agenda. NACWA and NRDC are working with EPA to set up a meeting with stakeholders this spring to plan a strategy for advancing green infrastructure goals.
NACWA Urges Members to Contact Congress in Support of Key Funding Bills
NACWA is urging its members to contact their representatives in Congress next week — when many will return to their home districts for the President’s Day recess — to push for support of two funding bills expected to go to the House floor the following week. In an Action Alert (http://www.nacwa.org/private/cwc/20070215aa.cfm) sent out yesterday, NACWA provided key points relating to the bills that members can use in appealing to their representatives for support. The Water Quality Financing Act of 2007 (H.R. 720) would reauthorize the clean water state revolving fund (CWSRF) at $20 billion over five years and was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in a bipartisan 55-13 vote after an extensive debate on the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage provisions, which remain in the bill. The Water Quality Investment Act of 2007 (H.R. 569) would authorize $1.8 billion in grants for combined and sanitary sewer overflow control projects over six years and was approved unanimously.
Similar bills have been reported favorably by the committee in the past several years, but never came up on the floor of the House because Republican leaders objected to the inclusion of the Davis-Bacon provisions. The new Democratic leadership has promised a floor vote. Similar legislation is expected to be offered in the Senate soon. NACWA will continue working hard to ensure passage of these key pieces of legislation but recognizes that they only represent a first step in meeting the funding needs of the nation’s clean water utilities.