Member Pipeline - Clean Water Current - June 1, 2007

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June 1, 2007

Clean Water America Gala Celebration Set for September
NACWA sent out “save-the-date” notices this week for the Clean Water America Gala Celebration to be held Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C. NACWA is taking the lead in organizing the event, which celebrates the 35th anniversary of the Clean Water Act and the gains made in cleaning up the nation’s waterways. The theme of “Guaranteeing Clean and Safe Water for Future Generations” acknowledges that the hard work to achieve clean water is far from over and that a new commitment to working together is paramount to raising awareness about the need for continued investment and innovation to ensure that progress is not reversed.

The honorary chairs for the Gala Celebration are former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.). The comedy group, the Capital Steps, will provide the entertainment. More than 30 organizations have already signed on as organizing sponsors. Contributions made in support of the Clean Water America Gala will be used to support a variety of entities, programs and activities that broadly inform and educate individuals and organizations on the vital importance of clean and safe water to all of our communities and the Nation. More information is available by emailing or by calling Tanya Stevenson at (202) 530-5722.

NACWA Files Comments on Draft Significant Noncompliance Policy
NACWA submitted comments ( June 1 expressing concern with EPA’s April 30 draft significant noncompliance (SNC) policy ( and recommending several ways to improve it. This marks the second round of comments NACWA has filed with the Agency on the draft SNC policy. An earlier version of the draft was circulated in October 2006 for member review, and NACWA submitted comments ( in November 2006. Although made some minor changes to the draft as a result of NACWA’s input, many of the Association’s original concerns still remain. Among other issues, NACWA is concerned that the draft policy does not provide permitting authorities with enough discretion to not designate an overflow as SNC if there are mitigating circumstances. Additionally, the policy may duplicate existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements for wastewater treatment facilities. While there are no specific reporting Discharge Monitoring Report criteria for wet weather events, many NPDES permits contain overflow reporting requirements.
The June 1 letter emphasizes these concerns and invites EPA to work with NACWA in its efforts to finalize the new SNC policy.

EPA Issues Policy Memo on Development of Numeric Nutrient Criteria
EPA released a memo ( May 25 from Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for water, intended to accelerate the development of numeric nutrient criteria by the states. This is the first major policy statement on nutrients since 2001, when EPA gave states additional time to make plans for developing their own numeric criteria ( Since EPA published its national nutrient criteria strategy in June 1998 and began developing national criteria, NACWA has expressed serious concerns with the approach used to derive the criteria values. NACWA encouraged EPA to give states additional time to develop more scientifically based criteria instead of simply adopting the federal numbers. EPA originally expected states to develop their numeric criteria by the end of 2004 to avoid having to implement federal criteria if that deadline was not met.

The 2001 policy statement revised the target dates and directed states merely to show progress, using a schedule or set of milestones, toward developing nutrient criteria by the end of 2004. With its May 2007 memo, the Agency notes that state progress has been ‘uneven’ since 2001 and expresses its commitment to ‘accelerating the pace’ for making progress. While the memo makes no mention of federal promulgation and
highlights the importance of working with the states to help them develop numeric criteria, EPA is still required by section 304(c)(B)(4) of the Clean Water Act to promulgate water quality standards when necessary. NACWA is most concerned that this latest push on the states will force some to abandon their more scientific approaches to criteria development and simply adopt the federal default criteria. NACWA has been discussing this issue with the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA) and will alert the membership to any new developments.

NACWA Seeks Member Input on Sewer Overflow Reporting Legislation
Late last week, Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.) introduced the Raw Sewage Overflow Community Right-to-Know Act (H.R. 2452) (, which contains monitoring and reporting requirements for sewer overflows. As of today, the bill has only 11 co-sponsors, and the Senate is not working at this time on similar legislation. Last week, NACWA sought input from its Facility and Collection System Committee and Legal Affairs Committee on the bill. Initial feedback indicates that many communities are already doing the types of monitoring and reporting on overflows required by the bill. However, the legislation does create duplicative requirements and inappropriately implies — by citing Centers for Disease Control and illness rates out of context — that utilities are not adequately ensuring the public’s health. Similar legislation has been introduced in the past but has failed to garner significant support. NACWA will be monitoring this legislation closely and working with the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, where it has been referred, to ensure the views of the nation’s clean water agencies are fully considered.

The bill requires: the installation and use of a technology that notifies the owner/operator in “a timely manner” that a sewer overflow has occurred; notification to the public, as well as EPA or the state, of the overflow within 24 hours; immediate notification of public health authorities and other “affected entities, such as public water systems” of any overflow that may “imminently and substantially endanger human health;” a report to EPA or state of the magnitude, duration, and suspected cause of the overflow and the steps being taken to reduce or eliminate the recurrence; as well as provide EPA or state with a report containing the total number, location and impact of overflows in a given year, among other provisions. Please contact NACWA’s Susan Bruninga at with any comment on the legislation.

Efforts Continue on Green Infrastructure Initiatives
NACWA continued its work this week on green infrastructure projects, meeting with EPA staff to help plan the green infrastructure webpage that EPA will soon make available to the public. The webpage is designed to provide a “one-stop shop” for a variety of information on issues relating to green infrastructure, including technical, regulatory, and funding guidance. EPA is compiling a comprehensive collection of green infrastructure resources, and NACWA is helping determine the content and design of the webpage. NACWA is working on research projects to help increase the amount of information that will be available on the site. The webpage is expected to be operational soon, and NACWA will inform the membership when it debuts.

Department of Homeland Security, EPA Release Final Water Sector Security Plan
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and EPA released the final Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources for Water Sector-Specific Plan (SSP) (, which outlines security and emergency response objectives for water and wastewater utilities, government agencies, and other partners. The SSP was prepared by EPA, the designated agency for overseeing water sector security, with the assistance of the Water Sector Coordinating Council (WSCC) and the Government Coordinating Council (GCC). The WSCC consists of representatives from NACWA and other key water and wastewater sector associations, who were named in the SSP’s “Acknowledgements” section, while the GCC consists of representatives from government agencies with an interest in water sector security. As established by the SSP, the water sector’s security vision “is a secure and resilient drinking water and wastewater infrastructure that provides clean and safe water as an integral part of daily life.” The vision “assures the economic vitality of and public confidence in the nation’s drinking water and wastewater through a layered defense of effective preparedness and security practices in the sector."

The SSP also identifies the following sector security goals:

  • sustain protection of the public health and environment;
  • recognize and reduce risks in the water sector;
  • maintain a resilient infrastructure; and
  • increase communication, outreach, and public confidence.

NACWA Summer Conference to Focus on Sustainability and the Role of Going Green
NACWA’s 2007 Summer Conference, Sustainable Infrastructure Choices…Gray, Green, & Everything In Between, July 17-20, in Cleveland will focus on how sustainable wastewater infrastructure objectives can be achieved by adding new green infrastructure approaches to traditional gray infrastructure. Featured speakers and panelists will examine if green infrastructure approaches are a cost-effective option for decreasing combined and separate sewer overflows, increasing energy efficiency, and improving water quality. Community and regulatory support are also necessary for successful incorporation of green infrastructure into a sustainable water management plan, and these issues will also be addressed. Visit NACWA’s website ( for a conference agenda, hotel registration information, and online registration. The deadline for reserving a room at the special conference of $159 is June 26.

June 4 Issue of U.S. News & World Report to Feature Water Challenges, Quotes NACWA
The June 4 issue of U.S. News & World Report, the weekly news magazine, will feature water as its cover story with the headline “Why You Should Worry about Water.” One of the articles focuses on the problems of aging and crumbling infrastructure and quotes NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk. Articles such as these help bolster NACWA’s advocacy efforts by alerting millions of readers to the daunting funding challenges cities face in trying to maintain and upgrade their clean water infrastructure. NACWA members are encouraged to pick up a copy of the magazine and even send copies to their congressional representatives with a note urging their support for increased clean water funding.