Member Pipeline - Clean Water Current - May 4, 2007
May 4, 2007
Urge Your Representatives to Fund Green Infrastructure Initiative in FY 2008 Budget
The recent signing of the Statement of Intent on Green Infrastructure between EPA, NACWA, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Low-Impact Development (LID) Center, and the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA) was only the beginning. To ensure the green infrastructure initiative obtains needed funding NACWA is asking that you contact your Representatives and urge them to sign onto a Dear Colleagues Letter seeking Fiscal Year 2008 funding for green infrastructure educational, research and pilot projects. The Dear Colleagues Letter is being organized by Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) and is available on NACWA’s Legislative Correspondence & Outreach webpage (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-05-01dcltr.pdf).
NACWA has also signed onto a coalition letter seeking FY 2008 funding for green infrastructure (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-04grinfltrapp.pdf), which will be sent to all Members of Congress over the coming weeks. As the letter states, “wet weather pollution is a large and rapidly growing source of pollution in U.S. rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. As a result, States and local governments will need to invest more than $140 billion over the next 20 years to upgrade sewage systems. This is an incredible financial burden, and these communities are looking for creative and cost effective ways to reduce stormwater pollution, minimize combined sewer overflows, and ensure that there will be safe and clean water resources for the future.” To meet this challenge, the coalition is urging Congress to direct EPA “to identify a full-time senior staff member to coordinate implementation of this [green infrastructure] initiative nationally, regional coordinators, and $10 million in grants for green infrastructure pilot projects.” The letter was signed by a wide array of groups including American Rivers, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Trout Unlimited to name just a handful.
Board Approves NACWA/Ducks Unlimited Memo of Understanding on Wetlands
With the approval of the Association’s Board of Directors, NACWA is pleased to announce that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ducks Unlimited (DU) on the importance of wetlands will be signed at the Capitol Hill Reception on May 8th at the NACWA/WEF Clean Water Policy Forum. This MOU demonstrates NACWA’s ongoing commitment to new, vital partnerships. DU’s mission is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl and has conserved more than 11.6 million acres of waterfowl habitat in North America. The MOU’s purpose “is to provide a foundation for collaboration in protecting, restoring, enhancing, constructing and managing wetlands of value to waterfowl and other wildlife — a mutual priority of DU and NACWA. Activities carried out pursuant to this MOU will contribute significantly to improving our nation’s water quality through an innovative wastewater treatment technique, as well as to the protection, restoration and enhancement of wetland ecosystems for waterfowl, other wildlife and people.” The MOU will be made available on NACWA’s website after it is signed next week.
NACWA Weighs in with White House on Disposal Guidelines for Prescription Drugs
On Wednesday, NACWA sent the Director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) a letter (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-05-02whdpo.pdf) detailing several concerns raised by members regarding a set of disposal guidelines for unused prescription drugs issued by the ONDCP, in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services and EPA earlier this year (http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/drugfact/factsht/proper_disposal.html). NACWA’s letter noted that the guidelines do not put sufficient emphasis on the value of local drug take back programs, many of which have been developed by NACWA member agencies on behalf of their communities. More problematic was the inclusion in the guidelines of a list of drugs that the federal government is recommending should be flushed.
The Food and Drug Administration maintains the list of drugs that it believes should be flushed primarily due to the potential for illegal distribution and use, but NACWA expressed concern that recommending flushing for any drugs could result in an increase in flushing of all drugs, not just those on the list. While acknowledging the public health benefits of ensuring the proper disposal of controlled substances, NACWA expressed concern that while federal drug officials are recommending the disposal of certain drugs down the drain, environmental regulatory agencies with oversight of clean water agencies are measuring these same drugs in wastewater effluent and are contemplating their options to address this issue. NACWA’s Emerging Contaminant Workgroup will be following up with the ONDCP and the other federal agencies involved in the handling of unused pharmaceuticals on the value of local or regional take-back programs.
Senators Introduce Security Funding Legislation, GAO Releases Report on Security Costs
Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), together with Senator David Vitter (R-La.), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Transportation Safety, Infrastructure Security and Water Quality, and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), last night introduced the Wastewater Treatment Works Security Act of 2007. The bill provides $200 million to utilities who voluntarily seek the funds to perform vulnerability assessments or make security enhancements. The bill is nearly identical to legislation previously introduced by Senator Inhofe that passed the EPW Committee in each of the past two Congresses and with strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives in the 108th Congress. NACWA has supported these legislative efforts and believes this new bill provides for a strong federal-municipal partnership to make needed security enhancements. As Senator Inhofe stated in his press release “Wastewater security is an essential part of a broad, concerted effort to bolster the nation’s defenses against terrorism,” adding that “my wastewater security bill provides incentives to facilities to make security improvements and conduct assessments without imposing a federal, one-size-fits all regulation.” Senator Inhofe’s press release is available on NACWA’s website (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-05-04senatewwsb.pdf) as is a draft version of the legislation (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-05-02draftleg.pdf).
Also this week, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report, Securing Wastewater Facilities: Costs of Vulnerability Assessments, Risk Management Plans, and Alternative Disinfection Methods Vary Widely (http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07480high.pdf). Several NACWA members were involved in providing GAO with data for the report, which demonstrates the wide range of costs to perform vulnerability assessments and switch to alternative disinfection methods. NACWA believes this shows that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to security-related issues because of the unique, site-specific needs of publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). These and other security-related issues will be discussed at next Monday’s Security and Emergency Preparedness Issues Forum at the NACWA/WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in Washington, D.C.
- The Association wishes all of its members traveling to Washington, D.C. for the upcoming NACWA/WEF Clean Water Policy Forum a safe and pleasant trip.