White House and Congress Make Progress in Securing New Funds for Businesses Devastated by COVID-19, including WateReuse Member Businesses
The White House and congressional leaders made progress last week in negotiating a fourth COVID-19 relief package that would include new funds for small business loans. In recent weeks, Congress enacted three pieces of legislation to provide aid to households, businesses, and local and state governments impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) attempt to secure a unanimous consent agreement in the Senate has been blocked by Democrats, who are seeking to include additional aid for hospitals and state and local governments in the package. Given Democratic demands, Senator McConnell will likely need to make concessions in order to enact a bill.
In addition to passing a fourth relief package, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has indicated that she intends to push a large economic stimulus bill in the weeks ahead. House Democrats have offered their Moving Forward Frameworkas a starting point for discussions for that package.
The WateReuse Association has sent letters to congressional leaders urging that coronavirus stimulus packages include investments in water recycling infrastructure. As discussed below, WateReuse is also collecting a list of “shovel-ready” projects to demonstrate the role water reuse can play in supporting economic recovery and organizing member advocacy during a virtual Water Week, April 26-May 1.
Action Needed: Submit Your “Shovel-Ready” Water Recycling Projects for Stimulus Investment
In the coming weeks, Congress will be considering whether and in what form to invest in infrastructure development as an economic stimulus mechanism. In preparation for negotiations over a larger economic stimulus package in the weeks and months ahead, we want to make sure that Congress is aware of the role that shovel-ready water recycling projects can assist in our country’s economic recovery.
If your utility or business has projects or project expansions that are primed to move forward in the next 12 to 24 months, we want to know. Congressional staff are looking for the following information ahead of Congress’ return later this month:
What would you be able to accomplish in the next 12-24 months if
you had an additional infusion of funding?
How much federal and non-federal money could you spend on the
project over the next 12-24 months?
Is there an existing federal program through which this money
could be invested?
Do you have any sense of the economic benefits that this project
would generate in your community? Any idea how many jobs would be created
or sustained given an additional infusion of funds?
If you have information regarding shovel-ready water recycling projects or expansions, please tell WateReuse about it by sending your information to Greg Fogel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Virtual Water Reuse Advocacy: Join Water Week Webinars on April 22 and April 29
While the nation’s response to
the pandemic will keep us from meeting in person during Water Week 2020, the
last few weeks have only underscored the importance of the sector’s continued
advocacy with federal policymakers. The virtual Water Week 2020 will provide an
opportunity to advance recycled water policy priorities and bring together
water professionals across the country April 26 – May 1 to bring awareness to
our priorities and advocate as one voice for the sector.
Please join WateReuse, NACWA,
WEF, and WRF for two complimentary webinars to supercharge your virtual
advocacy and hear the latest from key federal policymakers.
Join us on Wednesday, April 22, 2:00 – 3:30 PM ET for the first webinar, Water Advocacy Update and How to Virtually Lobby Congress During Water Week 2020, to hear the latest update on Congressional advocacy and learn how to engage during Water Week. The webinar will present the latest updates from Capitol Hill, the water sector’s key issues and talking points, and tools and tips for engaging during Water Week – such as setting up virtual congressional office visits and messaging resources for social media and community outreach during Water Week and beyond.
Join us again on Wednesday, April 29, 2:00 – 3:30 PM ET for the Water Week 2020 Webinar. We know you value hearing directly from EPA and Congress when you are in Washington, so we are bringing the latest insights to your computer during Water Week 2020. The webinar will include the latest water policy developments from EPA senior staff, messages from Members of Congress about the value of water sector advocacy, and updates from key Water Week partners.
Members of Congress Urge Moratorium on Water Utility Shut-offs and Federal Support for Water Utilities Amid Pandemic
Last week, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Peter Defazio (D-OR) spearheaded a letter from 115 Members of Congress to congressional leadership, calling for a nationwide moratorium on utility shut-offs, including water utilities. With unemployment claims continuing to rise, millions of Americans are expected to be unable to pay their bills for water services, electricity, and internet access. Importantly, the letter notes that many utilities have already voluntarily suspended shut offs.
The letter also urges federal support for utilities, but does not provide any details on how that support should take shape. According to a recent analysis by the American Water Works Association and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, water utilities are facing up to a $14 billion shortfall in ratepayer revenue.
Bureau of Reclamation Awards $400,000 to WateReuse Members for Drought Planning
The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation has chosen four projects to share $710,771 to develop and update drought contingency plans, including incorporating water reuse as a water management strategy.
Valley Water will use their $200,000 to develop a drought response plan to improve water supply reliability during times of shortage in Santa Clara County in Northern California. The water district provides water and other services to businesses, industrial and agricultural users, and approximately two million residents across 15 cities in Santa Clara County, California.
The Western Municipal Water District will use their $200,000 to convene a local task force to develop a comprehensive drought contingency plan that considers impacts to local water supplies and infrastructure that will help Western customers during the next drought. They are located in western Riverside County in California and serve more than 880,000 people.
Both utilities are matching their grant with $200,000. Reclamation also announced awards for the Montana Department of Natural Resources and the Pechango Band of Luiseño Indians.
COVID-19 Resources for Water Recycling Agencies, Businesses, and Institutions
Federal Agencies Provide Guidance on Water and COVID-19
Federal agencies are providing guidance to water professionals and the public on water transmission and COVID-19. Use the chart below to find useful resources to help your organization navigate issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Dedicated COVID-19 information website hosting information on disinfectants, drinking and wastewater, and COVID-19 news.
WateReuse Members and Partners Provide COVID-19 Guidance
National water sector organizations, state agencies, researchers, and businesses are contributing information to help the water sector stay informed and combat the spread of coronavirus. The following resources are available:
WateReuse Member Spotlight: COVID-19 Experiences and Responses
WateReuse Association members continue to
provide resources and services to help the nation recover from the coronavirus
pandemic, including engineering and technology firms.
Carollo: Mel Butcher of Carollo Engineers shared how design concepts may help civil engineers during the COVID-19 Pandemic with American Society of Civil Engineers Plot Points podcast. Read More.
Evoqua: Evoqua technologies helps company increase disinfection production tenfold during this pandemic. Read More.
Share Your Story!
Please submit your COVID-19 story or your company’s COVID-19 response (up to 50 words) for inclusion in a future issue of WateReuse Review. Email your information to email@example.com by Thursday at 12 pm ET.
State Updates and Member Profiles
California: UC Berkley Expert, Kara Nelson, Says Water Reuse Treatment Kills COVID-19
Kara Nelson, an expert in waterborne pathogens at UC Berkley, says that researchers have a high degree of confidence in the ability of existing water reuse treatment to handle the COVID-19 virus. In an interview with the Public Policy Institute of California, Dr. Nelson explained that coronaviruses have a different structure from other viruses in wastewater, which makes them even easier to kill. Although these treatment processes are based on science and a regulatory approach developed over decades, Nelson indicated that researchers would like to see studies to confirm this. Several studies have been launched across the nation. Read More
California: West County Wastewater and East Bay Municipal Utility District Announce Recycled Water Partnership
West County Wastewater and the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) announced a recycled water partnership that will preserve valuable drinking water for the region. Under an existing agreement, West County Wastewater sends the majority of its treated secondary wastewater to EBMUD. The updated agreement significantly increases the amount of discharged wastewater that can be transferred to EBMUD, which distributes the recycled water to local businesses for industrial reuse, such as cooling towers and boilers. Read More.
California: Palmdale Regional Groundwater Recharge and Recovery Project Moves Forward
Although the Palmdale Water District offices are closed to public during the coronavirus pandemic, work continues on the Palmdale Regional Groundwater Recharge and Recovery Project. This effort will recharge local groundwater supplies with recycled water to fortify the community’s water resources. The District Board of Directors unanimously approved a contract last week for the first test well. Read More.
California: Stanford Researchers Track COVID-19 with Wastewater Surveillance
Stanford researchers are collecting wastewater across the Bay Area to understand how wastewater surveillance can help us better understand the prevalence of COVID-19 and potentially predict new flare-ups before they happen. In the absence of extensive testing or a vaccine, understanding where and to what extent cities have been impacted will be important. Wastewater surveillance allows researchers to identify COVID-19 in a sewer system based on the RNA present. Research labs are teaming with pandemic experts to validate and provide tools during this crisis in a timely fashion. Read More.
Colorado: Unique Mobile DPR Demonstration on Track for Symposium Debut
To foster public awareness and engagement for future implementation of direct potable reuse (DPR), Colorado Springs Utilities (Springs Utilities), the Colorado School of Mines (Mines), and Carollo Engineers, Inc. have joined forces to design, construct, and operate an innovative mobile demonstration. Unlike previous mobile DPR demonstrations, the system uses ozone and biologically active filtration instead of reverse osmosis (RO). The process is designed with the flexibility to incorporate additional unit processes.
With the collaborative design effort and engineering documents by Carollo complete, construction is underway by Mines faculty, staff, and students. The trailer-mounted system will first be stationed for operations at Springs Utilities’ J.D. Phillips Water Resource Recovery Facility through fall 2020. It will make its national debut in conjunction with the WateReuse Association 2020 Symposium. Symposium attendees are invited to tour the operating system in Colorado Springs. Public and stakeholder tours and purified water, beer, hard seltzer, and soda tastings are planned as part of Springs Utilities’ engagement efforts.
In late 2020, the trailer will be relocated to Mines to support potable reuse research and education efforts. The system will also be available for use in other Colorado communities considering DPR.
Colorado: Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program Moves Forward During Pandemic
WateReuse Association member Denver Water remains committed to their public health initiatives, by shifting focus to tasks that can be accomplished safely during the stay-at-home order. The Lead Reduction Program, aimed at removing lead service lines, had just gotten underway in early March. Denver Water is focusing on pre-work that can be done safely, such as collecting consent forms and tackling service lines not currently in use, such as schools and daycares. Read More.
Florida: Potable Reuse Rulemaking Included in Omnibus Water Bill; Governor Expected to Sign
Potable reuse projects will be required to address contaminants of emerging concern and must meet or exceed federal and state drinking water quality standards and other applicable water quality standards. In addition, reclaimed water is deemed in Florida Statute, a water source for public water supply systems. The inclusion of potable reuse in the omnibus water bill is a great success for the Potable Reuse Commission as it allows its recommendations to be implemented and recognizes the importance of the Potable Reuse Commission’s report.
Due to COVID-19, Senate Bill 712 has not been presented to Governor DeSantis for action but we expect that it will be signed into law by him upon presentation.
WateReuse Members Support U.S.-Israel Team on $21.4M Center to Develop Water-Energy Efficient Technologies, including Reuse
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of International Affairs and Israeli’s Ministry of Energy have teamed to fund a multi-institutional effort called the Collaborative Water-Energy Research Center (CoWERC). This effort will develop technologies to solve global water challenges including desalination and purifying drinking water.
The research and technology development in energy-efficient enhanced water supply, water reuse and resource recovery, and energy-water systems will culminate in pilot projects at both U.S. and Israeli facilities. Read More.
Need to Illustrate the Value of Water Reuse Investment? Use Our Flyer and Infographic
Utilities must make a compelling case to ratepayers, policymakers, and other stakeholders that investment in water recycling is the right decision. Use our flyer and infographic to illustrate that Investment in water reuse builds communities that are modern, sustainable and stable—ready for families to flourish and businesses to grow. The infographic highlights examples of recycled water from coast to coast and documents the value they bring.
Conferences and Events
Webcast Series Provides Value Information and Resources on COVID-19
In response to questions and concerns surrounding COVID-19
and water recycling, the WateReuse Association has developed a series of
webcasts to provide members with the answers and resources they need. From risk
preparedness to stimulus funding and communicating about the safety of recycled
water, WateReuse has assembled experts across multiple disciplines to share the
latest information and analysis. The following webcasts are available and free
Are water recycling utilities well prepared to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and other potential future risks? The America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) requires all utilities serving 3,300 or more people to complete a risk and resilience assessment (RRA) for their water systems, followed by the completion of an emergency response plan. This presentation will begin with an overview of AWIA requirements, RRAs, and the role of water reuse in those assessments followed by a focus on risk and risk perceptions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Register Now!
In the weeks since COVID-19 took hold in the United States, Congress has passed a number of relief packages that have included paid leave provisions, paycheck protection loans, emergency disaster loans, and tax deferrals, among other tools. In this webcast, leading experts from national business associations will break down how recent legislation, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, can help WateReuse business members survive and recover from the disaster. Register Now!
Communities embrace water reuse as a proven method to ensure a safe, reliable, and locally controlled water supply, but in the age of COVID-19 new questions are being asked about public health and worker safety. Researchers at the forefront of this issue will join us for an informative update on what we know about recycled water and COVID-19. Experts in water reuse communications will follow with guidance on risk communication and messaging. This is an essential presentation for anyone that communicates about recycled water. Register Now!
Colorado’s Challenging Water Future: Where are we with Water Reuse?
Join us at the 2023 WateReuse Colorado Conference on May 2 2023! The conference will bring together water reuse professionals to share the latest research, innovation, and experiences to address the growing need for water recycling in Colorado and across the country. WRCO is pleased to conduct this event in collaboration with CU Boulder. Make plans to attend the conference for learning, networking, and engaging in discussions with the experts of reuse community, while enjoying the view of beautiful Boulder Flatirons!
WateReuse is the only trade association that focuses solely on advancing laws, policy and funding to increase water reuse. Our niche strategy sets us apart from other organizations in the water industry.