Member Pipeline - Clean Water Current - June 8, 2007
June 8, 2007
New Practical Guide to Asset Management – Now Available!
NACWA, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) yesterday released Implementing Asset Management – A Practical Guide, which provides a common sense approach for managing utility assets. This Guide builds on the popular Managing Public Infrastructure Assets to Minimize Cost and Maximize Performance developed in 2002 and provides a risk-based method that any size utility can use regardless of their current approach for managing their infrastructure assets. This new resource employs a top-down method for effectively and efficiently using existing knowledge and resources to improve a utility’s management of its assets. Ordering information will be sent out via a Member Update early next week. NACWA members will be able to purchase the document at a special discounted rate of $95. Visit http://www.nacwa.org/private/umfi.cfm for more information on purchasing this publication.
EPA/Corps of Engineers Release Wetlands Guidance Interpreting Supreme Court Cases
EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) announced the release this week of guidance (http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/guidance/CWAwaters.html) that their field offices will use to determine whether certain wetlands or isolated water bodies fall within the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Accompanying the guidance is a Memorandum of Agreement between the agencies laying out the process they will use for making jurisdictional determinations in a timely manner. The guidance and agreement interpret and respond to recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States, which are detailed in Legal Alert 06-05 ( http://www.nacwa.org/private/legalalerts/leg06-05.cfm). Calling the Bush administration “pro-wetlands,” Benjamin Grumbles, the EPA assistant administrator for water, said the guidance will provide “greater consistency and certainty” in how CWA jurisdictional decisions are made.
The document was quickly denounced by Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, who introduced the Clean Water Restoration Act (H.R. 2421) May 22 to clarify CWA jurisdiction and ensure that isolated, non-navigable waters are protected. Oberstar’s response sets up a possible show-down between Congress and the administration on how best to respond to the Supreme Court cases. Oberstar said the EPA/corps guidance “extends the ambiguity of Federal regulation of isolated waters and undermines the protection of millions of acres of wetlands.” NACWA requested in a Legislative Alert 07-2 (http://www.nacwa.org/private/legreg/legalrts/la07-2.cfm) that members provide comment on H.R. 2421 by June 15 and will use this input to advise its position on this contentious issue. Even though the guidance is final, EPA and the Corps will take public comments on it for six months. NACWA requests that members providing comment also submit a copy to NACWA’s Susie Bruninga at email@example.com.
Detailed NACWA Summer Conference Agenda Now Available Online
A detailed agenda was posted on NACWA’s website today for the Association’s upcoming 2007 Summer Conference & 37th Annual Meeting in Cleveland, Ohio. With the theme, Sustainable Infrastructure Choices . . . Gray, Green & Everything in Between, the July 17 – 20 program will focus its sights on the significant job of enhancing traditional gray infrastructure with green initiatives and technology to address today’s water quality challenges. Elected and appointed officials, corporate CEOs, environmental activists and utility leaders will bring their experience and perspectives to bear – resulting in a provocative and informative program that should not be missed.
Conference-rate rooms at the Renaissance Cleveland are rapidly filling up, so make your travel plans soon! Visit NACWA’s website (http://www.nacwa.org/meetings/07summer/) for a conference agenda, hotel registration information, and online registration.
NACWA Maintains Focus on Green Infrastructure
On a related note, NACWA continued to engage in green infrastructure initiatives, attending the dedication of a green infrastructure courtyard at EPA headquarters this week and holding meetings to discuss additional funding for green infrastructure projects. EPA dedicated a new green infrastructure project (http://www.epa.gov/owow/nps/lid/stormwater_hq) in a courtyard of its headquarters that incorporates rain gardens, vegetative swales, porous concrete, and an underground cistern designed to collect stormwater runoff and recycle it as irrigation water for the courtyard’s vegetation. Benjamin Grumbles, EPA assistant administrator for water, spoke at the ceremony and specifically referenced NACWA as one of the national partners which signed the Statement of Intent on Green Infrastructure with EPA in April.
NACWA also participated in meetings this week on potential legislation that would provide federal grants for green infrastructure initiatives, which the Association is pushing to move forward in the coming weeks.
$8.1 Billion EPA Funding Bill to Get Vote on House Floor Next Week
The House Appropriations Committee approved $8.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2008 funding for EPA yesterday, including $1.1 billion for the clean water state revolving fund (CWSRF). The legislation will go before the full House of Representatives for a vote at the end of next week. Several amendments were added to the bill, including one that would provide $140 million through the State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) account for water and sewer projects in targeted communities. The FY 2007 funding bill contained no such earmarked grants, although they have totaled close to $500 million in previous budgets. The bill also contains $16 million for rural water technical assistance; $174 million targeted to specific watersheds, such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Puget Sound; and $17 million for the National Estuary Program. The Senate is expected to take up the legislation soon.
U.S. News & World Report Cover Story Highlights Funding Challenges, Quotes NACWA
The June 4 issue of the U.S. News & World Report, the weekly news magazine, features water as its cover story with the headline “Why You Should Worry about Water.” The magazine received significant attention, and a link to the article is available on NACWA’s Newsroom website for your review (http://www.nacwa.org/getfile.cfm?fn=2007-06-04woes.pdf). NACWA will be forwarding this article to key policymakers on Capitol Hill and at EPA and members are encouraged to do the same. NACWA’s Executive Director, Ken Kirk, is quoted in the article discussing the shortcomings of EPA’s Four Pillar approach to the infrastructure funding gap and on the need for a clean water trust fund.