April 30, 2018
Senate Committee Examines Groundwater Conduit Theory
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on April 18 to discuss federal permitting requirements for pollutants discharged to jurisdictional surface waters via groundwater under the Clean Water Act. The committee convened the hearing, “The Appropriate Role of States and the Federal Government in Protecting Groundwater,”
as permitting requirements under the Groundwater Conduit Theory are being challenged in court cases across the country and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing its rules on the matter. They key implication for WateReuse Association members is that under this theory, water recycling projects could require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits in addition to permitting requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act, if the recycled water is subsequently conveyed via groundwater to surface waters through natural seepage.
Hearing witnesses included the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA), both of whom explained the burdensome and difficult nature of permitting discharges to groundwater and determining whether those discharges have a direct hydrologic connection to a jurisdictional surface water. NACWA also explained that a direct hydrologic connection interpretation could have unintended consequences for beneficial and widely supported projects, such as water recycling and groundwater recharge, as additional permits would create additional costs and barriers. Proponents of this theory focused on the value of the groundwater conduit theory as a tool to regulate groundwater pollution. Opponents of this theory, including WateReuse, assert that the issue is not whether groundwater pollution should be regulated, but what tools are the most appropriate to regulate groundwater discharges.
There are several cases examining this groundwater conduit theory including the Hawaii Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui which held that pollutants conveyed via groundwater through a “direct hydrologic connection” to surface water do require permits. WateReuse joined other stakeholder groups on an amicus brief requesting a rehearing of this case, which was denied last month. This case is now being appealed to the Supreme Court. The EPA is also examining this issue and currently collecting public comments which are due May 21. Please contact Amber Kim if you have any comments or input regarding this issue.
Water Infrastructure Resiliency Grant Program Legislation Introduced
A bipartisan bill establishing a grant program for water infrastructure resiliency and sustainability was introduced last Monday, sponsored by Reps. Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Tom Reed (R-NY). The Water Infrastructure Resiliency and Sustainability Act (WIRSA), H.R. 5596
, would establish a competitive grant program under the Environmental Protection Agency for projects at water systems that increase resiliency and adapt to changing hydrologic conditions. Such projects include water reuse, groundwater recharge, stormwater capture and recycling, and more. The program is authorized from Fiscal Years 2018 – 2022 at $50 million annually. WateReuse signed a letter of support
for this bill, and will look for opportunities to advance the ideas in this bill, including encouraging the use of water recycling to address water resiliency and sustainability challenges.
New Report on Mainstreaming Potable Water Reuse Released
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), ReNUWIt, and the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread released a new report, Mainstreaming Potable Water Reuse in the United States: Strategies for Leveling the Playing Field.
The report stems from an intensive workshop convened by the three organizations last October with utility managers, state and federal regulators, academics, service providers, and other stakeholders. The workshop examined barriers to implementing potable reuse projects and brainstormed strategies to advance potable reuse further into the mainstream and elevate potable reuse as a widely accepted and established water resource. The report summarizes the ideas and strategies discussed that can help communities across the country that are pursuing potable reuse.
EPA Administrator Pruitt Faces Tough House Hearings
On Thursday, April 26, Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator testified before two House committees amid a flood of controversies. The first hearing
was with the House Energy & Commerce committee and the second hearing
was with the House Appropriations Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. Although the subject of these hearings was EPA’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget, the discussion centered on various ethical and spending controversies surrounding Pruitt and various policy issues. Democrats did not shy away from pressing Pruitt about his controversies, including first-class travel and a $43,000 private phone booth, and expressing their beliefs that he is unfit for the position. Republicans generally were friendlier, but several asked sharp questions and expressed displeasure at his actions. Pruitt carefully deflected questions throughout the many hours. The highly anticipated hearings were Pruitt’s first appearance before Congress since December.
WateReuse Supports Legislative Effort to Encourage Utility Partnerships
WateReuse joined a letter of support
for legislative language that would encourage community water systems in significant non-compliance to seek voluntary partnerships – ranging from resource and knowledge sharing to regionalization and consolidation – with other public or private entities that can work together to return the system to compliance. The language provides a six-month “no enforcement” period for systems pursuing a partnership in good faith. If a partnership is formed, a three-year “safe harbor” period is provided where the new partnership can work to bring the system into compliance without enforcement actions. Partnerships can create more efficiencies and greater capacity for utilities. These provisions would incentivize the pooling of resources and expertise for struggling systems and allow utilities to explore and adopt more innovative technologies such as water recycling to address compliance issues.
EPA Releases WIFIA’s PEA and FONSI
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prepared a Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) to analyze the potential environmental impacts related to the issuance of credit assistance under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. WIFIA is a key financing program for water recycling projects and EPA announced this year’s Notice of Funding Availability earlier this month. Letters of Interest for WIFIA financing are due on July 6, 2018 at 12 pm EDT.
PEA evaluates the potential adverse and beneficial environmental impacts of water infrastructure projects eligible for WIFIA credit assistance in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Based on the environmental impact analysis in the PEA, EPA has made a preliminary determination that no significant environmental impacts are anticipated from the issuance of WIFIA credit assistance. This preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) has been published in the Federal Register on April 27 and is available for a 30-day review period with comments due on May 29, 2018. The PEA and preliminary FONSI can be found here.
State Updates and Member Profiles
Welcome New Members!
The WateReuse Association is pleased to welcome the following new members:
WateReuse Members Receive Environmental Engineering Awards
Congratulations to the following WateReuse Association Members for winning the 2018 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science™ Awards:
LA’s Water Conservation Potential Study Targets a Sustainable Future
Entrant: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Engineer in Charge: David Pettijohn, P.E., BCEE
Location: Los Angeles, California
Design – Honor Award
Central Pasco County Beneficial Water Reuse Project: 4G Wetlands
Entrant: CH2M, now Jacobs
Engineer in Charge: Rafael Vazquez-Burney, P.E.
Location: Land O Lakes, Florida
Operations/Management – Grand Prize
Los Angeles Aqueduct – Owens Lake Environmental Protection and Dust Mitigation
Entrant: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Engineer in Charge: James G. Yannotta, P.E.
Location: Los Angeles, California
Planning – Grand Prize
One Water LA 2040 Plan
Entrant: City of Los Angeles, LA Sanitation and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
Engineer in Charge: Adel Hagekhalil, P.E., BCEE
Location: Los Angeles, California
Research – Grand Prize
Direct Potable Reuse Pilot Testing of Ozone-Biofiltration/Research Project (WE&RF Reuse-15-11)
Entrant: Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources, CDM Smith, and Stantec
Engineers in Charge: Denise R. Funk, P.E., BCEE, and Jennifer Hooper, P.E.
Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia
Research – Honor Award
A Simple, Cost-Effective Method for NDMA Analysis in Drinking Water and Recycled Water to Improve Public Health Protection
Entrant: Orange County Water District
Engineer in Charge: Dr. Megan Plumlee, P.E.
Location: Fountain Valley, California
California: State Water Board Releases Framework for DPR
The California State Water Resources Control Board is accepting public comments on a proposed framework for regulating direct potable reuse through May 20, 2018. The framework outlines the water board’s current thinking on regulating direct potable reuse in California and is not a regulatory document. A rulemaking process will be undertaken separately.
California: Bottled Purified Water Campaign Wins Grand Prize for Environmental Communications
The Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) and Orange County Water District (OCWD) received the Grand Prize for Environmental Communications for the Groundwater Replenishment System Bottled Water Campaign. The campaign aimed to educate and increase awareness of water reuse projects and break the stigma associated with these projects that are often referred to as “toilet-to-tap.” OCSD and OCWD received this award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists (AAEES) at the 2018 Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Awards Luncheon and Conference held in Washington DC. Learn More.
Colorado: WateReuse Colorado, Denver Water Offer Scholarships
WateReuse Colorado is offering four scholarships to support students focusing on water reclamation, water reuse, and/or desalination. Each scholarship is valued at $1,500 and will be awarded in September 2018 to the highest-ranking applicants among undergraduate or graduate students enrolled in an accredited Colorado university or community college. In addition, Denver Water is offering three Denver Water Centennial Scholarships to support students and recent high school graduates with an interest in pursuing a professional career related to water delivery, water quality, water reclamation or water reuse. Applicants must be Colorado residents. Each scholarship is valued at $2,000 and will be awarded in September 2018. Learn More.
Florida: Upgrades Improve Water Quality, Increase Capacity for Reclaimed Water at State Park
The Volusia County Council, St. Johns River Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection last week celebrated the completion of a $12.7 million upgrade to an advanced wastewater treatment and water reuse facility designed to protect Blue Spring State Park. The upgrades to the treatment process and technology at the facility enable additional removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from effluent water used for reclaimed supply and recharge. Additionally, the treatment capacity at the facility increased from 1.7 million gallons per day to 2.7 million gallons per day. Learn More.
Texas: WateReuse Texas Elects New Leadership
WateReuse Texas elected Eva Steinle-Darling of Carollo Engineers as its new President at the section’s annual meeting on Wednesday, April 25. Other officers elected include Mark Vega of McAllen Public Utility Board, Vice President and Shannon Rodriquez of the City of Houston, Secretary/Treasurer. Tom Taggart of the City of San Marcos is the Immediate Past President.
Virginia: Board Member Recognized for Leadership in Environmental Protection
Congratulations to WateReuse Association Board Member Karen Pallansch of Alexandria Renew for winning the Edward J. Cleary Award from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers & Scientists. The Cleary Award is given to an individual who is an outstanding performer in the management of environmental protection enterprises and has demonstrated exemplary professional conduct, personal leadership, originality in devising new environmental protection techniques, and sensitivity and responsiveness to social, economic, and political factors in environmental protection. Learn More.
WRF Study Examines Legionella in Reclaimed Water Systems
The Water Research Foundation recently published a study examining how frequently Legionella occurs in reclaimed water systems and what impacts reclaimed water storage and distribution systems afford for Legionella regrowth or persistence. The research team looked at systems with various treatment characteristics, water quality parameters, and disinfectants, as well as disinfection conditions, and included a comprehensive literature review focused on Legionella detection methods, and human health risks. Download the report here.
New Report Reveals Cost & Water Supply Benefits of Southern California Stormwater Projects
The Southern California Water Coalition recently released a whitepaper, Stormwater Capture: Enhancing Recharge and Direct Use Through Data Collection, assessing the cost and performance of current stormwater capture projects across the Southern California region – and what results could mean for future projects. The study analyzed data from six different water agencies on 32 active projects to determine each project’s cost per acre-foot of captured stormwater. Costs ranged from $59 per acre-foot to more than $250,000 per acre-foot.
Conferences and Events
Webcast: Unconventional Oil and Gas Exploration: Outlook for Water Reuse and Potential Impacts on Distribution Pipes
What is the current state of water reuse in unconventional oil and gas? And what are the impacts of fracking and crude oil contaminants on water distribution pipes? Join us on Wednesday, May 9 at 2 p.m. EDT to hear results from two Water Research Foundation studies on unconventional oil and gas that cover opportunities and challenges for water reuse and protection of public health. Learn More.
Register for the Pacific Northwest WateReuse Conference
Learn the latest on state and federal policy at the 2018 Pacific Northwest WateReuse Conference in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday, May 17 and Friday, May 18, 2018. Policy sessions will cover Washington State’s new reclaimed water rule, updates on federal funding programs, and a robust panel discussion on state regulation with representatives from Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Learn More.
Webcast: Developing Regulations that Grow and Support Water Reuse: The Regulator Perspective
States are taking the lead in developing regulations to support implementation and growth of water reuse. Please join us on Wednesday, June 13 at 2 p.m. EDT to learn about the latest regulatory developments in four states across the country at varying stages — from states with a long history of water reuse to states in the early stages of assessing reuse needs and strategy. Regulators from California, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Minnesota will discuss the latest developments in their states. Learn More.
Registration Opens in May for the 33rd Annual WateReuse Symposium
Learn “What’s Working, What’s New, and What’s Next in Water Reuse” at the 33rd Annual WateReuse Symposium, September 9-12, 2018, at the JW Marriott in Austin, Texas. The Annual WateReuse Symposium is the nation’s premier conference on water reuse and the only conference dedicated solely to advancing the policy, technology, innovation and public acceptance of recycled water. Registration opens in May! Learn More.
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