Member Pipeline - Member Services & Information - Update (MU07-10)
|To:||Members & Affiliates|
|Date:||June 14, 2007|
COMMITTEE UPDATES FROM THE NATIONAL CLEAN WATER POLICY FORUM
Many of the Association’s Standing Committees met in May during the
National Clean Water Policy Forum in Washington, DC. In addition to
committee meetings, the Policy Forum featured three joint NACWA-Water
Environment Federation (WEF) Issues Forums. The new format was very popular and
discussions during the three one-hour sessions — which explored key security and
emergency preparedness, wet weather, and climate change issues — were conference
highlights. This Member Update provides a summary of the priority issues
discussed during the conference’s committee meetings and Issues Forums and
insights into NACWA’s next steps for both its own and collaborative initiatives.
Many of the issues discussed in this Update will also be the building
blocks for continued strategic committee discussions at the Association’s
upcoming Summer Conference, Sustainable Infrastructure Choices: Grey, Green
and Everything in Between, July 17-20, in Cleveland, Ohio (http://www.nacwa.org/meetings/07summer/).
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 Sharon Powell at email@example.com
or at 202-833-2672.
I. Committee Discussions
Biosolids Management Committee
Co-Chair, Robert Dominak, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Ohio
Co-Chair, Dave Taylor, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Wis.
The Biosolids Management Committee continues to track the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) work on its Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey. With sampling complete, EPA is now working on analyzing the samples and is expected to complete its analysis on everything but a few of the emerging contaminants this spring. EPA’s current schedule is to provide a report (data only, no risk assessment information) by September. EPA also continues to collect data and other information for its work to evaluate the need for maximum achievable or generally available control technology limits for biosolids incinerators under 112k (requiring standards for area sources of hazardous air pollutants) of the Clean Air Act. NACWA has provided EPA with data on several metals, dioxins, and a newly compiled and more accurate list of incinerators in the U.S. Based on early reactions from EPA, it does appear that much of the NACWA-supplied data indicates that incinerator emissions are sufficiently regulated under existing provisions.
The Committee is currently reviewing a draft survey of biosolids management trends in the US. Developed cooperatively by the North East Biosolids and Residuals Association (NEBRA), the publishers of Biocycle, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Northwest Biosolids Management Association, the preliminary report is now available at www.nebiosolids.org. Several concerns raised during the Committee meeting related to the lack of information on incineration and other thermal treatment in the current draft of the report. NACWA is working with the survey team to provide them with additional information.
The Committee also heard an update on ongoing work related to the Water Environment Research Foundation’s (WERF) research on the reactivation and regrowth of fecal coliforms following high solids centrifuging of some biosolids, and several other biosolids related research efforts. Work continues to better determine whether there is reactivation and/or regrowth of actual pathogens, not just pathogen indicators. Alan Hais (firstname.lastname@example.org) with WERF was on hand to discuss the project. The Biosolids Management Committee will meet next at NACWA’s 2007 Summer Conference and 37th Annual meeting in Cleveland, Ohio on Tuesday, July 17, from 4:00 – 5:00 pm.
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 provided timely updates on NACWA’s ongoing litigation activities, including the Association’s participation in both the recent Clean Water Act/Endangered Species Act case before the U.S. Supreme Court and the BEACH Act litigation involving recreational water quality standards currently underway in federal court in California.
The Committee also received reports on the progress of the new security publication (which NACWA is currently working on with the American Public Works Association [APWA], the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies [AMWA], and the Water Environment Federation [WEF]). The purpose of the project is to create a publication for water utilities, wastewater utilities, and public works directors providing a description of key environmental and related legal issues relevant in times of heightened security. The publication will serve as both a practical manual and guidebook for how the legal landscape has changed in the municipal arena regarding security and emergency preparedness issues.
Following these updates, attendees engaged in a lively roundtable discussion on Legal Hot Topics, including issues such as recent enforcement actions against peak excess flow permitting facilities (PEFTFs), the Kern County, Calif., biosolids case, and the recently issued Phase II permit for the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority’s (DCWASA) Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant. The Committee’s next meeting is scheduled for the NACWA Summer Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, on Friday, July 20, from 7:30 – 8:45 am. Efforts are also underway to plan for the 2007 Developments in Clean Water Law Seminar scheduled for Nov. 7-9 in Palm Springs, Calif., so save the date now.
Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Committee
Chair, Bennett Horenstein, East Bay Municipal Utility District, Oakland, California
Vice Chair, Martie Groome, City of Greensboro Water Resources Department, N.C.
NACWA and the Committee leaders are continuing to pursue a collaborative effort with EPA to update the 1982 50 POTW Study. Currently, NACWA is waiting for a response from EPA regarding the issues that must be resolved before a collaborative study can be performed, including sample collection and data analysis questions.
Emerging contaminants continue to receive significant attention. Under the leadership of Ben Horenstein, chair of the Committee, NACWA is initiating a national dialogue with other organizations, regulatory agencies, and retailers to address the problem of contaminants from consumer products. Since the pretreatment programs cannot regulate domestic contaminants, the goal of this dialogue is to prevent contaminant-containing products from entering the market. The Committee requested that NACWA survey members to find out how many are operating pharmaceutical take-back programs and requiring mercury amalgam separators.
The 2007 Pretreatment and Pollution Prevention Workshop is being planned for November 14-16 in Denver, Colo. The Committee discussed the importance of holding the Workshop each year, and invites suggestions for topics at this year’s Workshop. Also, the Committee will be meeting via conference call this summer and critical issues, including emerging contaminants, will be on the agenda for the Water Quality Committee meeting at the Summer Conference in Cleveland [see Water Quality Committee summary].
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.
Members of the Effective Utility Management Steering Committee kicked off the Utility Management Committee’s agenda with an overview of the collaborative effort to develop a set of attributes for effectively managed utilities (http://www.nacwa.org/private/umfi.cfm). After previewing the attributes, which were officially released during a signing ceremony later in the week during the Policy Forum, Committee members discussed NACWA’s role in integrating these attributes into other management-related initiatives, including NACWA’s Excellence in Management awards program. How to further implement the attributes and build on the momentum generated by the signing ceremony will be discussed at future Committee meetings. The Committee also previewed the new practical guide to asset management, being developed by NACWA, WEF, and AMWA, which will be available for ordering on NACWA’s website in the next few weeks.
The Committee also reviewed NACWA’s annual Index Survey results and two new sets of graphs with regional breakdown information. This new regional information provides a historical look at the average service charges for each EPA region as compared to the national average and the distribution of 2006 service charges in each of the regions compared to the national average. These new graphs are now available on the NACWA website (http://www.nacwa.org/private/umfi.cfm). The Committee is considering whether additional questions on the survey may provide a more useful summary of changes in the cost of wastewater services and whether the inclusion of a building cost index or some other cost indicator in addition to the Consumer Price Index might also bolster the survey’s usefulness.
Preparations for the 2008 NACWA Financial Survey have begun and the Committee will review the draft survey form at its next meeting during NACWA’s 2007 Summer Conference and 37th Annual Meeting in Cleveland on Tuesday, July 17, from 1:00 – 2:15 pm. Committee members recommended that the Financial Survey Workgroup consider adding a question regarding each community’s median household income.
Updates were also provided on a number of other items:
- NACWA’s representatives to the international effort on wastewater standards will consider a set of Final Draft International Standards this summer, with a final vote slated for this November. A presentation on the content of the standards will be featured at the next Committee meeting.
- NACWA is setting up a meeting with EPA on its financial capability guidelines. A recent report of the Environmental Finance Advisory Board indicated that changes in EPA’s guidance are needed and NACWA plans to discuss that report and the Association’s ongoing project on financial capability.
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 discussed 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 (TMDL) 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 in each TMDL but allowing non-daily limits when writing permits, NACWA believes the issue will again end up in the courts. NACWA is currently using Targeted Action Funds to develop a paper on the concept of suitability — namely, whether all pollutants are actually suitable for TMDL calculation — an issue raised by the D.C. Circuit in its decision. In July, the Committee will review a draft of the paper that will outline several suitability arguments for nutrients, mercury, and bacteria.
In March, EPA convened a panel of experts to discuss the Agency’s recreational water quality criteria (which use E. coli and enterococci as indicators) and how they might go about developing updated and/or new criteria. The decision to host the experts workshop was prompted by a lawsuit filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 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 has intervened in the case and is now working to engage in the ongoing settlement talks between EPA and NRDC. The outcome from the March experts workshop will likely play a key role in the BEACH Act discussion.
The Committee approved a TAF request from a group of NACWA members in the Pacific Northwest to update a model used to develop stringent TMDL waste load allocations for point sources. The $10,000, if approved by the Regulatory Policy Committee and the NACWA Board in July, would support a joint effort with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to further adapt the existing temperature model used by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to expand the heat trading component to include additional scenarios for trading, evaluate the temperature and flow effects of upstream reservoirs and dams, and include nonpoint thermal loads.
With Committee Chair Norm LeBlanc’s election to the NACWA Board, his tenure as Chair of the Water Quality Committee will end. Norm has been involved in the Committee’s work since the mid-1980s and has done an exceptional job as its Chair for more than a decade. The Water Quality Committee will meet next at NACWA’s 2007 Summer Conference in Cleveland on Tuesday, July 17, from 10:00 – 11:15 am.
II. Issues Forums
NACWA was represented at this meeting by Air Quality and Climate Change Committee Co-Chairs, Ed Torres, Orange County Sanitation District, Calif., and Gregory Adams, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, Calif. The highly attended suite of Issues Forums began with an overview of federal climate change legislation, which was presented by Gregory Adams. EPA’s annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which lists greenhouse gas contributions by industry sector, including wastewater treatment, may become critical as climate change such legislation progresses in Congress. NACWA reviewed the Inventory via a Targeted Action Fund project, to ensure that wastewater treatment emissions are realistically estimated by EPA.
Also discussed was a recent Supreme Court decision that held that EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases, making it increasingly difficult for EPA to avoid issuing regulations on greenhouse gas emissions in the future. EPA’s recently released studies on the water quality impacts of climate change also garnered significant concern from the participants. One study indicated that precipitation pattern changes may cause some combined sewer overflow (CSO) long-term control plans to be inadequate, but indicated at the same time that existing climate models were unreliable and contradictory, leading to a situation where predictions about the numbers and volume of CSOs varied widely. A second study indicated that lower base flows due to climate change could lead to additional treatment requirements in the future to meet water quality standards. The impacts of precipitation pattern changes on wastewater treatment practices resulting from climate change was a topic of significant interest for attendees, with many utilities already considering potential impacts in their local areas.
Security and Emergency Preparedness
NACWA was represented in this Issues Forum by its Security and Emergency Preparedness Committee Chair, Robert Steidel, with the City of Richmond Department of Public Utilities, Va. The many security and emergency preparedness initiatives addressing the water sector were discussed at this Issues Forum, beginning with an update of the work of the Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC). The WSCC is made up of representatives of key water/wastewater sector associations that work closely with EPA and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on critical national security issues. Curt Baranowski of EPA provided an update on the Sector-Specific Plan (SSP), which was recently released. The SSP outlines the security vision and objectives of the water sector, while also assessing gaps in water sector security initiatives.
Billy Turner, President of Columbus Water Works, Ga., NACWA Board Member, and Chair of the WSCC, updated attendees on WSCC efforts, including working with DHS to make commonly used vulnerability assessment tools compatible with DHS’s overall risk assessment framework. The WSCC has also agreed to work with EPA on developing metrics for progress made in the water sector, as well as on creating a workgroup to review and develop strategies for water sector decontamination efforts.
Other topics included progress in the development of Water and Wastewater Agency Response Networks (WARNS) across the nation, and various participants indicated that their utilities had developed plans for a potential pandemic outbreak.
Security legislation was also discussed, with NACWA articulating its support for legislation that provides funding for utilities to voluntarily replace chlorine gas with other disinfection technologies but its opposition to any mandatory, one-size-fits-all approach. The Forum ended with a discussion of how NACWA and WEF can better communicate with members to help them sort through the many security and emergency preparedness initiatives that are underway, with a focus on those with practical consequences for the utility sector. The Security & Emergency Preparedness Committee will be meeting via conference call in the coming weeks.
NACWA was represented at the Wet Weather Issues Forum by its Facility and Collection System Committee Co-Chairs, Marty Umberg with the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio, and Adel Hagekhalil with the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, Calif. The Issues Forum provided NACWA and WEF members with an opportunity to share their opinions on the progress made and next steps for developing consistent, realistic regulations for wet weather issues. EPA’s proposed Peak Wet Weather Flows Policy is still under review by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). NACWA, WEF, and other organizations are working together to try to get the policy approved by OMB. Utilities expressed frustration with OMB’s delay on this policy, and with inconsistencies in interim, ad hoc regulations on other wet weather management techniques, such as peak excess flow treatment facilities.
WEF provided an overview of its Risk Management Based Capacity Planning guidance, which would provide a system for wastewater collection and treatment capacity sizing that considers a community’s site-specific needs. In response to the increasing unlikelihood of a forthcoming sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) rule from EPA, participants discussed the potential collaboration between WEF, NACWA and other key groups in developing voluntary best management practices or guidelines to address SSOs and collection systems from a watershed-based planning approach. NACWA and WEF staff are planning an initial meeting to explore voluntary standards to deal with collection system and SSO issues.
Overall, the Issues Forums were highly successful and are expected to be a feature of next year’s National Clean Water Policy Forum.