Member Pipeline - Member Services & Information - Update (MU07-03)
|To:||Members & Affiliates|
|Date:||February 28, 2007|
COMMITTEE UPDATES FROM WINTER CONFERENCE
All of the Association’s Standing and Board Committees met at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies’ (NACWA) Winter Conference in St. Petersburg, Fla., January 30-February 2. This Member Update provides a summary of the highlights from this conference’s Committee deliberations that will help provide input into NACWA’s next steps on priority clean water issues. Many of the issues discussed in this Update will also be the building blocks for continued strategic Committee discussions at the Association’s upcoming joint NACWA/Water Environment Federation (WEF) National Clean Water Policy Forum, May 6-9, at the Renaissance Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C. NACWA’s committees are the backbone of its advocacy efforts and the Association encourages member agency participation in them. To join NACWA committees, please contact Rebecca Bortnick at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 202-533-1801.
Air Quality Committee
Co-Chair, Edward Torres, Orange County Sanitation District, Calif.
Co-Chair, Greg Adams, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Calif.
State and national efforts to address greenhouse gas emissions were the focus of discussion at the Air Quality Committee meeting. Ed Torres, co-chair of the Committee, talked about California’s AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which made California the first state to establish statewide limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Several similar bills have been discussed in other, primarily East Coast, states that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On the federal front, EPA’s draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which is issued annually for information purposes only, ranks wastewater treatment currently sixth in methane emissions and fifth in nitrous oxide emissions. NACWA discussed its expert comments that were provided to EPA outlining how the methods EPA used over-estimate emissions from wastewater treatment plants. NACWA requested and received additional Targeted Action Fund (TAF) support to complete the review of EPA’s estimation methods. The Committee also discussed the focus of the U.S. Congress on greenhouse gas emissions reductions and that EPA’s Inventory could be used as a basis for stricter regulatory requirements on wastewater treatment plants.
NACWA completed a TAF-supported study of EPA’s WATER9 model, which estimates emissions of volatile organic compounds from wastewater collection systems. The study indicated that emissions were overestimated by WATER9 when compared to field data and other models, and that lack of complete documentation for the model potentially leads to errors. Other NACWA advocacy efforts discussed included EPA’s recent determination that sewage sludge incinerators (SSIs) would not be regulated as other solid waste incineration units (OSWIs) under Section 129 of the Clean Air Act. NACWA had submitted extensive comments to EPA urging this action. EPA’s proposed requirements for internal combustion engines also received Committee attention and the group agreed that although the standards are not onerous, NACWA should continue its efforts to have EPA clarify the text of the complex proposal to facilitate compliance with performance testing and reporting requirements. Finally, staff updated the Committee on NACWA’s comments to the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC) supporting its decision not to implement expensive, impractical, and unnecessary emissions controls for POTWs.
Chris Quigley of CH2MHill updated the Committee on the Water Environment Research Foundation’s (WERF) project, Minimization of Odors and Corrosion in Collection Systems. An extensive literature review helped define and prioritize knowledge gaps in odor and corrosion issues. NACWA members assisted in the review by providing information from their facilities. The project will now try to answer the data gaps in areas such as sewer ventilation, identification and treatment of odor compounds, and the relationship between hydrogen sulfide gas and corrosion, and develop a collection system odor and corrosion assessment tool.
In recent news, NACWA’s President chose to rename the Air Quality Committee the Air Quality and Climate Change Committee in order to address this critical and burgeoning issue area. Although there will be no official Committee meeting at the upcoming joint NACWA/Water Environment Federation (WEF) National Clean Water Policy Forum in May, there will be a Climate Change Issues Forum on Monday, May 7 from 8:30 - 9:30am. Members of the Committee are urged to attend this important meeting and help set the clean water community’s strategic course on climate change issues.
Biosolids Management Committee
Co-Chair, Robert Dominak, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Ohio
Co-Chair, Dave Taylor, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Wis.
The Orange County Utilities Water Reclamation Division in Florida provided the Committee with an overview of its biosolids management program. While the County formerly sent all of its solids to a landfill, it has now moved to a land application program and is an active participant in the National Biosolids Partnership (NBP). Proposed changes to Florida’s biosolids management regulations, discussed during the Committee meeting, are raising concerns with Orange County and the other utilities in Florida regarding the long-term viability of land application in the state. While acknowledging that the current program could be improved, Florida’s public wastewater utilities are raising concern that the proposed regulations go too far.
Biosolids issues in Kern County, California continue to impact the management options available to a number of NACWA members in the southern portion of the state. A representative from the City of Los Angeles provided the Committee with an update on the legal fight over the County’s ban, which was approved last year through a ballot measure. While no final decisions have been made, initial indications from the judge suggest that NACWA’s impacted members will prevail in maintaining their right to land apply biosolids.
EPA continues work on its Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey. Much of the sampling is now complete and shipments are being made to the labs that will conduct the analyses. Committee members received a copy of the sampling and analysis plan and will be reviewing it over the coming weeks. Other news from EPA included an announcement that EPA will not regulate sewage sludge incinerators under Part 129 of the Clean Air Act, something NACWA has long advocated for.
The Committee also heard an update on the ongoing work related to WERF’s research effort on the reactivation and regrowth of fecal coliforms following high solids centrifuging of some biosolids and several other biosolids related research efforts. The Biosolids Management Committee will meet next at the joint NACWA/WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 6 from 3:00 - 4:00pm.
Clean Water Funding Task Force
Co-Chair, William Schatz, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland, Ohio
Co-Chair, Suzanne Goss, JEA, Jacksonville, Fla.
NACWA Clean Water Funding Task Force Co-Chair Suzanne Goss briefed NACWA members on the January 19, 2007 clean water infrastructure funding hearing in the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. Kurt Soderberg, Executive Director of the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, Duluth, Minn., NACWA’s witness at the hearing, shared his impression of the session and detailed his one-on-one meeting with the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN). Soderberg noted that Chairman Oberstar was committed to the issue of clean water and his commitment to moving H.R. 720 (see Legislative Policy Committee summary).
The Task Force also received an update on the success of one of its major initiatives, the Clean Water America grassroots cyber campaign, which has access to nearly 300,000 individuals, over 155,000 of which have signed the Clean Water America petition, and 203 organizations nationwide. Task Force members agreed to a NACWA staff request to broaden the scope of the website’s issue base to include a broader range of funding and water quality initiatives that are important to NACWA member utilities. NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk said that NACWA staff also will draft a business plan that will provide further details on the feasibility and costs associated with broadening the issues and potentially making Clean Water America a subsidiary of NACWA.
Facility and Collection System Committee
Co-Chair, Martin Umberg, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio
Co-Chair, Adel Hagekhalil, City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, Calif.
The Facility and Collection System Committee was updated on the status of EPA’s proposed Peak Wet Weather Flows Policy, which is currently under review by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). NACWA and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) are working together to try to get the policy approved by OMB. Although the policy is not official yet, clean water agencies in California are already being asked to conduct No Feasible Alternative (NFA) analyses based on the draft policy. NACWA is working with its members in California to ensure a reasonable approach is taken and is considering the development of a “toolbox” with sample NFA analyses to assist members in the future.
The Committee had an extensive discussion on its options for moving forward with the sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) issue. NACWA sent a letter in September 2006 to EPA urging the Agency to progress with a rulemaking, indicating that the Association was preparing to formally petition for a rulemaking. EPA responded that work on a SSO policy will commence after the Peak Wet Weather Flows Policy is finalized. A legislative approach was also considered as was the establishment of a voluntary best management practices (BMP) program. Texas already has a voluntary SSO program, and EPA Region 6 is reportedly using discretion to determine when to enforce based on whether the voluntary BMPs are being followed. The Committee discussed potential issues with the BMP approach, including getting cooperation from satellite agencies and nongovernmental organizations. A small group of committee members will be meeting to discuss NACWA’s next steps.
Updates were provided on NACWA’s efforts with EPA’s Significant Noncompliance (SNC) policy and with financial capability issues. NACWA submitted comments to EPA regarding the SNC policy, and EPA has responded that the comments were very helpful and that many of the recommended revisions will be made. NACWA continues to use TAF funds to draft guiding principles and other information that NACWA intends to provide to EPA as it revises its Financial Capability Assessment documents.
Collection system issues were also discussed, including state actions to permit collection systems and collect data about spills. Finally, Committee members were urged to contact their Representatives to encourage support of HR 569, the Water Quality Investment Act of 2007, which would provide $1.8 billion in grants for sewer overflow control projects.
Although there will be no official Committee meeting at the upcoming joint NACWA/ WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in May, there will be a Wet Weather Issues Forum on Monday, May 7 from 11:00am - 2:00pm. Members of the Committee are urged to attend this important meeting and help set the clean water community’s strategic course on wet weather issues.
Legal Affairs Committee
Chair, Lisa Hollander, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Ohio
Vice Chair, Terry Satterlee, Little Blue Valley Sewer District, Mo.
The Legal Affairs Committee featured two presentations by partners from NACWA Legal Affiliate Williams Mullen. In the first presentation, R. Stuart Broom discussed key trends in construction and operation contracts and provided a comparison between the two main procurement methods, the architectural/engineering approach and the design-build approach. Mr. Broom then focused specifically on the design-build method, and outlined some of the potential benefits and risks associated with such a contract. In a comment period following the presentation some members expressed doubts about whether the design-build approach is ultimately more time and cost efficient than traditional contracting models.
The second presentation featured William A. Anderson II explaining how to best manage a response to a Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 308 request for information or monitoring. As part of this discussion, Mr. Anderson identified a list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” that a utility should consider if sent a Section 308 letter. For example, Mr. Anderson warned that a utility should not respond to a Section 308 letter by tying to hide the facts, ignoring the letter, or turning the request over to a consultant.
The meeting also included an update on current NACWA litigation. Alexandra Dunn, NACWA’s General Counsel, reported that NACWA has filed a Motion to Intervene in the BEACH Act case involving recreational water quality standards, and that the Association is scheduled to present oral arguments in the coming weeks arguing for inclusion in the case.
She also reported that the NACWA Board of Directors had recently approved for the Association to participate in the Arizona Endangered Species Act (ESA) case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court involving the interplay between the ESA and the CWA. The meeting closed with a brief discussion of recent developments in clean water law. Handout materials from the Legal Affairs meeting are available on the section of the Member Pipeline at www.nacwa.org.
The Legal Affairs Committee will meet next at the joint NACWA/WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 6 from 3:00 - 4:00pm.
Legislative Policy Committee
Chair, Kevin Shafer, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, Wis.
The Legislative Policy Committee met in extended session to receive input from NACWA members to finalize the Association’s legislative action agenda for the 110th Congress. NACWA Secretary and Legislative Policy Committee Chair Kevin L. Shafer, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, presented a comprehensive legislative agenda that reflected the recent political changes brought about by last year’s elections and the shift in environmental priorities in the new Congress. Members agreed that the priorities put forth to date by the new House and Senate leadership present the Association with new opportunities and challenges.
The NACWA-supported Water Quality Financing Act of 2007 (H.R. 720) was discussed at length because the bill was moving quickly through the Committee process during the NACWA Winter Conference in advance of an anticipated House floor vote prior to the President’s Day recess. H.R. 720 would authorize $20 billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund over five years and calls for a vital Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of revenue sources for the creation of a clean water trust fund, along the lines of those that exist for highways and airports. The Committee also reviewed another NACWA-supported measure, the Water Quality Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 569), which was moving concurrently with H.R. 720 through the Committee process. H.R. 569 would authorize $1.8 in grants for sewer overflow control projects over five years.
Although there will be no official Committee meeting at the upcoming joint NACWA/WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in May, the agenda has members of Congress, their staff and key stakeholder Representatives on the agenda to discuss the 110th Congress’ legislative priorities. There will also be a Legislative & Regulatory Issues Briefing on Monday, May 7 at 3:30 - 5:00pm.
Another key issue on the NACWA Legislative Policy Committee agenda included reauthorization of the 2002 farm bill and the work that NACWA is doing in coordination with the conservation community to ensure increased funding and accountability for water quality projects in the Farm Bill. Also discussed was the potential for increased attention by the new congressional leadership on chemical and wastewater security legislation, legislation to define navigable waters under the Clean Water Act, EPA oversight hearings, and appropriations for fiscal year 2008, including for the NBP. NACWA members were encouraged to reach out to their congressional delegations to advocate for the clean water community’s priorities.
Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention
Chair, Bennett Horenstein, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Oakland, Calif.
Vice Chair, Martie Groome, City of Greensboro Water Resources Department, N.C.
The Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Committee discussed NACWA’s efforts to work with EPA to update the 50 POTW Study from 1982. Committee leaders met with EPA during the 2006 Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Workshop, and EPA was interested in the potential for collaboration. NACWA is currently conducting a feasibility study for data collection and analysis using TAF support.
The contents of EPA’s Final 2006 Effluent Guidelines Program Plan were discussed. EPA did not identify any categories for effluent guidelines rulemaking, but does plan to conduct additional studies for several categories, including the Health Services industry. Effluent guidelines rulemaking is proceeding for Airport Deicing and Drinking Water Treatment, categories that were identified for rulemaking by EPA in 2004. An update was also given on two court cases that seek to change EPA’s implementation of the effluent guidelines program. NACWA has entered the case of Our Children’s Earth Foundation v. EPA as an intervenor to urge the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to affirm the lower court ruling that EPA is implementing the effluent guidelines program properly.
Emerging contaminants have received significant attention recently, and the committee discussed NACWA’s efforts with these issues. NACWA successfully advocated for EPA regulation of washing machines that release silver ions into the wash cycle as a way to disinfect clothing. The Emerging Contaminants workgroup is seeking to develop a framework for future NACWA advocacy with emerging contaminants issues. An important component of this framework will be the dialogue that NACWA is initiating with other organizations to address emerging contaminants in consumer products.
Implementation of the Pretreatment Streamlining Rule was another topic of the meeting. EPA recently posted its Model Pretreatment Ordinance, which provides guidance for establishing or revising local laws to implement and enforce a pretreatment program, incorporating the Streamlining Rule. NACWA is interested in learning about members’ experiences with Streamlining implementation.
Finally, the 2007 Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Workshop is being planned for November. NACWA will announce the location of the Workshop once it is finalized. The Pretreatment & Pollution Prevention Committee will meet next at the joint NACWA/WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 6 from 1:30 - 2:45pm.
Regulatory Policy Committee
Chair, Ray Orvin, Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority, SC.
Vice Chair, Steve Pearlman, Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, Denver, Colo.
Following reports from the Chairs of each of NACWA’s Standing Committees and the Regulatory Policy Workgroups, the Regulatory Policy Committee approved three TAF requests (subsequently approved by the Board of Directors at its meeting). The first request, for up to $20,000 in FY 2007, was from the Legal Affairs and Security & Emergency Preparedness Committees and will be used to substantially revise the NACWA Legal Issues in a Time of Crisis checklist. The document has become dated since it was published in 2002 and many recent developments and legislative changes necessitate a major overhaul of certain sections.
The second request, for $5,000 in FY 2007, from the Air Quality Committee, will be used to develop additional comments on EPA’s Inventory of greenhouse gas emissions (see Air Quality Committee summary above). The most recent Inventory, currently in draft form, lists wastewater treatment plants as significant sources of two potent greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide. The funds will be used to ensure EPA’s estimates are accurate and based on reasonable assumptions.
The third TAF request, of $15,000 in FY 2007, approved by the Committee is intended for a cooperative project to develop a comprehensive survey of wastewater utility information. Similar to the NACWA Financial Survey, this technical survey will collect information vital to the industry and will be used to further populate the CleanWater Central database.
Although there will be no official Committee meeting at the upcoming joint NACWA/WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in May, the agenda has top EPA officials who will be focusing on the Agency’s top priorities. There will also be a Legislative & Regulatory Issues Briefing on Monday, May 7 at 3:30 - 5:00pm.
Security & Emergency Preparedness Committee
Chair, Robert Steidel, City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, Richmond, Va.
This Committee meeting began with a round of applause congratulating Billy Turner, NACWA Board member and President, Columbus Water Works, Ga., on becoming Chair of the Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC). The WSCC is made up of representatives of key water/wastewater sector association representatives who work closely with EPA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on critical national security issues. The Committee discussed the WSCC’s work with EPA and DHS on a sector specific plan (SSP) for the water sector which is intended to provide vital information on the water sector’s activities to plan for, respond to, and recover from a terrorist attack or natural disaster. The SSP, which is expected to be finalized soon, also outlines some of the potential security gaps that water and wastewater utilities still need to address.
The Committee also heard from members on their efforts to set up mutual aid networks, with insightful information shared on the Florida WARN [water/wastewater agency response network] and Texas WARN initiatives. The Committee also discussed the fact that over $2 billion in DHS grant funds was also available but that in order to access these funds every wastewater treatment plant employee needed to be certified through the National Infrastructure Management System (NIMS) certification process. While this is a fairly straight-forward online process, every plant employee from administrative assistants to the executives must be certified or risk being denied grant funds.
The committee also discussed the 110th Congress and the likelihood that potentially onerous and duplicative requirements on wastewater treatment plants may again be revived in the House and Senate and that NACWA would continue to vigilantly follow and advocate on such legislative initiatives. The Committee also discussed the good news that the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) recently finalized a report recommending to DHS and the President that over 600,000 water/wastewater workers should be considered Tier1 critical employees for purposes of vaccine prioritization in the event of a pandemic. NACWA is also continuing to upgrade its security webpage (http://www.nacwa.org/advocacy/security/) to provide updated information and links for the use of NACWA members.
Although there will be no official Committee meeting at the upcoming joint NACWA/ WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in May, there will be a Security & Emergency Issues Forum on Monday, May 7 from 11:00am. - 12:00pm. Members of the Committee are urged to attend this important meeting to discuss priority issues and help set the clean water community’s strategic course in the security arena.
Utility Management Committee
Chair, Jon Schellpfeffer, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Wis.
Vice Chair, Tim Houghton, City and County of Honolulu Dept. of Environmental Services, Hawaii.
Several collaborative efforts topped the Utility Management Committee’s agenda, including the ongoing collaborative effort to develop a set of attributes to describe an effectively managed utility. This effort is an outgrowth of the statement of intent signed by NACWA and six other organizations during the National Clean Water Policy Forum in May 2006. The effort is nearing completion and final recommendations for a sector strategy and next steps will be laid out during the 2007 Policy Forum. The new practical guide to asset management, being developed by NACWA, WEF, and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, as well as two other collaborative efforts regarding the feasibility of a national institute for utility management and the development of training for mid-level managers will all be wrapping up before NACWA’s 2007 Summer Conference in Cleveland.
The draft international standard on wastewater services is now one step closer to being final. It is expected to gain approval as a final standard by the end of 2007. The U.S. delegation, of which NACWA has been an active participant, voted to approve the draft standard last fall. According to NACWA’s experts, nothing in the standard should adversely affect U.S. utilities because of efforts to ensure the standard is compatible with most existing practices.
The Committee also reviewed the draft results from the 2006 NACWA Index Survey. Again, it appears that the increase in the average sewer bill paid by residential customers has outpaced the rate of inflation. The Committee is still working to ensure several key member agencies complete their surveys before finalizing the survey. Preparations for the 2008 NACWA Financial Survey have begun and the Committee is looking for volunteers interested in helping with the design of the survey. The Committee also approved a TAF request for $15,000 to conduct a technical survey off-cycle with the Financial Survey. The new technical survey would decrease the length of the Financial Survey and enable NACWA to collect other vital information.
Updates were also provided on a number of other items:
The Water and Wastewater Leadership Center Session for March 2007 is already full and a waiting list has been started.
EPA is expected to release new information in February regarding possible revisions to its financial capability assessment document. NACWA’s recent letter on the subject was well received and is being considered in EPA’s deliberations.
NACWA continues to track the permit fee incentive program proposed by EPA. A public meeting will be held in February to discuss the proposal.
Water Quality Committee
Chair, Norm LeBlanc, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, Va.
Vice Chair, Keith Linn, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Ohio
The Water Quality Committee again began its meeting with a discussion of NACWA’s ongoing efforts in light of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision (Friends of the Earth v. EPA) that the term “daily” in total maximum “daily” load does, in fact, mean “daily”. With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case and the issuance of EPA guidance instructing states and regions to develop daily expressions of the load but to continue doing business as usual when writing permits, NACWA believes the issue will again end up in the courts. The Committee will be working closely with other stakeholders in the coming weeks to determine what next steps the Association will take.
EPA’s recreational water quality criteria (which use E. coli and enterococci as indicators) are the subject of an upcoming experts workshop, slated for the end of March 2007. Committee leaders have been working to nominate NACWA representatives to participate in the workshop, but to date only one municipal wastewater official has been selected to participate. The experts will discuss both long-term and near-term approaches for addressing the criteria’s shortcomings. EPA seems open to the consideration of a whole new approach including the use of multiple indicators and possibly multiple criteria for different applications (e.g., effluent monitoring vs. beach monitoring). The decision to host the experts workshop comes on the heals of a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, citing EPA’s failure to meet certain obligations under the BEACH Act, including a requirement to study and develop new recreational water quality criteria. NACWA is currently working to intervene in this important case.
The Committee also discussed a number of analytical issues. A
new WERF report (00-ECO-1) could be very helpful for NACWA members currently
negotiating whole effluent toxicity (WET) requirements with their regulatory
agencies. The report indicates that EPA’s method for determining when permit
limits are necessary can overestimate the need for limits by 37-40%, among other
things. NACWA continues to participate on the Federal Advisory Committee working
to develop new procedures for determining the detection and quantitation limits
associated with analytical methods. The work on this issue will continue until
the end of 2007 at which point EPA will decide whether to act on the advisory
Following updates from the Emerging Contaminants and Mercury Workgroups, the Committee heard from representatives from WERF and NACWA member agency the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago regarding a potential project to determine appropriate criteria for secondary contact recreation waters. A meeting of interested parties is planned for February 27, 2007, in Chicago. The Utility Management Committee will meet next at the joint NACWA/WEF National Clean Water Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, May 6 from 4:15 - 5:15pm.