July 30, 1999
AMSA, Municipal Caucus Withdraw from SSO FACA
This week AMSA, along with the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the American Public Works Association and the Water Environment Federation, pulled out of Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) negotiations on national sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) regulations. Expressing serious concerns with the course EPA was taking with the draft proposed regulations and the FACA process, AMSA and the other groups decided, with reluctance, to withdraw and seek other means to participate in the development of future SSO regulations. After determining that EPA was inflexible on issues critical to municipalities and wastewater agencies, members of AMSA's leadership in caucus with other local government organizations on the FACA ended their participation.
The two-and-a-half-year lapse in SSO FACA meetings and an October 15 deadline contributed to making the process extremely unfavorable to municipal interests. These factors changed what had been a consensus-based, regulation development process to an EPA listening session. Other considerations that factored into the withdrawal of AMSA and the other organizations included the lack of an alternative, watershed approach to SSOs in EPA's draft proposed regulations and no discussion of the rule's costs and benefits to communities. EPA currently estimates that the SSO problem will cost local governments and their ratepayers $80-90 billion. But AMSA and the other groups are extremely concerned that the unrealistic requirements in the draft proposed regulations could drive these costs drastically higher. Combined, these factors amounted to an unacceptable departure from the original SSO FACA process that AMSA had asked EPA to initiate almost five years ago.
Despite the failure of the SSO FACA process, AMSA will continue to work with its municipal partners, EPA, environmentalists, Congress and the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) toward technically and financially feasible SSO regulations. The Association and its municipal partners will also continue efforts to pass the Urban Wet Weather Priorities Act of 1999. AMSA will keep members apprized of the latest developments on these issues.
AMSA to Side with EPA in Major TMDL Lawsuit
In order to protect the interests of the municipal wastewater community, AMSA's Board of Directors voted late last week to intervene in a lawsuit with a high potential to set a precedent over EPA's authority to include nonpoint sources in total maximum daily loads (TMDLs). The Board made their determination based on several factors. A key consideration was AMSA's longstanding position that without the inclusion of nonpoint sources, TMDLs will adversely impact municipal permit holders and result in no appreciable water quality improvements. If the court accepts AMSA's petition to intervene, the Association will be assured participation in every stage of the legal process. AMSA's involvement in the process will strengthen the Association's position on nonpoint source pollution and as one of the nation's leading clean water advocates.
AMSA to Coordinate EPA Pretreatment Proposal Comments
Following the release of EPA's Pretreatment Streamlining Proposal in the July 22 Federal Register, AMSA's Pretreatment & Hazardous Waste Committee is planning to coordinate industry and public agency comments. As a first step, AMSA is seeking a 60-day extension to the comment period, which currently ends September 20. AMSA members will receive the proposal via a forthcoming Regulatory Alert. The proposal is currently available online at www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-WATER/1999/ July/Day-22/w17773.cfm.