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Legislative Affairs

WEF's Interest in U.S. Legislative Priorities

Under the leadership of the Legislative Subcommittee of WEF’s Government Affairs Committee, WEF tracks, reviews and actively comments on legislation impacting clean water issues. WEF works closely with its membership to educate Congress on clean water issues impacting their districts and States, and disseminates information on Congressional activities to WEF membership via meetings, webcasts and emails.  WEF also collaborates with other organizations to provide support, or comment on pending legislation affecting the clean water community.

This Week In Washington 

This Week in Washington is a weekly publication of the Water Environment Federation’s Government Affairs department. It provides updates on the latest legislative and regulatory developments that affect the water and wastewater communities. To subscribe, please send an email to akathman@wef.org.  To read the latest issue, click here.

WEF Legislative Activities  

EPA Officials Offer Suggestions on How to Secure Funds for Great Lakes Environmental Improvements
Environmental Protection Agency officials are providing suggestions to potential applicants on how to secure millions of dollars in grants to fund Great Lakes environmental improvements.  (Bloomberg BNA 11/21/2016)
EPA officials provided advice during a Nov. 21 webcast on how entities could enhance their applications for up to $26 million in grants or cooperative agreements made possible through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II. 
During the webcast, Bart Mosier, EPA program analyst, told potential applicants to pay close attention to parameters established by a Nov. 9 Request for Applications, noting they risk ineligibility by ignoring precise RFA language. 

Up to 56 projects may be funded in seven project categories, including invasive species control, phosphorus risk reduction in Lake Erie and agriculture watershed management implementation.
Also, of note:
  • The urban watershed management implementation, which could provide $5.4 million for up to 13 projects, has been expanded this year to include not only urban and downtown non-point sources but also areas impaired by urban runoff.
  • There is a new project category—agriculture incentive program effectiveness—aims to fund a single cooperative agreement of up to $750,000 between EPA and a successful applicant. The project will evaluate current efforts to improve farm-management decisions that improve water quality in Great Lakes priority watersheds.
  • Applications are due Jan. 13 and awards are scheduled to be made in May. Applications must be submitted to EPA through www.grants.gov by 11:59 PM, EST. See Section IV for further submission information.
WEF to Host Free Webcast on MS4 Phase II Remand Rule 

STORMWATER: Phase II Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit Remand Rule 

12/06/2016 - 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM ET 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the final Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) General Permit Remand Rule on November 17, 2016.  

EPA released a pre-publication version of the final rule, EPA’s fact sheet summary of the rule, and a mark-up version of the changes to the Phase II stormwater rule. To view and download copies of these documents, visit EPA’s website at: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater-rules-and-notices#proposed. The final rule is anticipated to be formally published in the Federal Register during the week of November 28, 2016. The final rule will be effective 30 days following the publication date in the Federal Register. Once the official Federal Register Notice is published, EPA’s response to comment document will be viewable at www.regulations.gov under Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2015–0671.  

EPA requested public comments regarding three potential options for how the MS4 Phase II program might be implemented.  

This webcast will discuss the MS4 Remand Rule and its potential impacts to communities throughout the U.S. We are pleased to announce that our feature speaker will be from EPA, and be available to address questions. 

For additional information regarding the remand rule and WEF’s comments, please contact Chris French at 703-684-2423 or cfrench@wef.org. 

Registration Information:  Click here to register!  

There will be up to 1.5 Professional Development Hours (PDHs) offered for this webcast. Please check with your state accreditation agency to determine if you qualify. The PDH instructions will be sent to all attendees 24 hours after the webcast has ended.  

EPA to Host Three WIFIA Informational Webinars in the Next Month 

Over the next month, EPA will be hosting a series of informational sessions via webinar about the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. The sessions are targeted at prospective WIFIA borrowers including municipal entities, corporations, partnerships, State Revolving Fund programs and non-governmental organizations, and organizations that support prospective borrowers. In each session, EPA will focus on a specific topic and provide participants the opportunity to ask questions.  

Note: These webinars are based on the in-person webinars that we hosted in October and November. However, the second webinar, WIFIA Project Selection, will include additional information about the selection criteria definitions and weighting. 

  • Tuesday, November 29 (1:00-3:00 pm ET): WIFIA Program Overview, including eligibility and statutory requirements, loan terms and conditions, and credit policies.  Click here to register. 
  • Tuesday, December 6 (1:00-3:00 pm ET): WIFIA Project Selection, including an overview of the application process, letter of interest components, EPA's selection process, and the selection criteria weighting.  Click here to register. 
  • Monday, December 12 (1:00-3:00 pm ET): WIFIA Project Approval and Closing, including application submission and evaluation, term sheet development, and closing.  Click here to register.   
 Advanced registration is required. Learn more about the WIFIA program. 

 
Appropriators Plan for Short Term Spending Bill to Fund Government through March 
 
Yesterday, House and Senate Republican leaders agreed to abandon plans to finish up this year's appropriations bills this fall in order to give the new Congress and incoming Trump administration the final say over fiscal year 2017 spending.  (Bloomberg BNA, 11/18/16)
 
Passage of some kind of funding bill is necessary before a current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires Dec. 9. Minus any stopgap action, government monies will run out for most programs because only one of 11 of the FY 2017 bills have been signed into law by President Barack Obama.
 
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said in announcing the change in plans that the committee now will develop the stopgap, per leaders’ instructions.
 
“My committee will begin working immediately on a Continuing Resolution (CR) at the current rate of funding to extend the operations of our government through March 31,” Rogers said. “The bottom line is that we must fulfill our constitutional duty to responsibly fund the federal government, and do right by the taxpayers who have elected us.”
 
The CR would mostly extend current funding after the current stopgap expires in December. The bill may also become a vehicle for for supplemental funds to help Louisiana address flood damage. Other states, particularly those hit by Hurricane Matthew, also may seek funds.  It could potentially also be a vehicle for money promised to Flint, MI, to help with such tasks as revamping its drinking water infrastructure, as well.  (Bloomberg BNA, 11/15/16)
 
 
Congress Returns to Washington; WRDA Negotiations Continue 
 
The 114th Congress returned to the Hill on Monday morning ready to tackle several bills during the lame duck session, including a spending bill, as mentioned above.  
 
Republican committees said on Tuesday that negotiations between the House and Senate on the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) are still ongoing.  Majority spokespeople for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee expressed commitment to passing a bill in 2016.  (Bloomberg, 11/15/16)
 
While the House version of the bill, H.R. 5303, focuses almost solely on traditional Army Corps civil works projects, the Senate bill, S. 2848, includes several key provisions affecting water infrastructure funding.  
 
Specifically, Title VII, Drinking Water and Clean Water Infrastructure, in the Senate bill, includes important measures to help communities meet safe and clean water obligations. The Senate's WRDA package does include Title VII.  While the House bill includes some of the provisions in Title VII (such as aid for communities facing drinking water emergencies and authorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative), other key provisions are omitted, such as an effort to address ratepayer affordability challenges and authorizations for investments to support clean and safe water infrastructure. 
 
Water Advocates and all WEF members are urged to write their Members of Congress to support passage of WRDA and inclusion of Title VII. Use this link to the Water Advocates page to find your members of the House and Senate and send a pre-drafted letter using the Water Advocates grassroots outreach tool. 
 
Potential Changes at EPA and Congress in New Administration  
 
After over a year of primaries, debates, town hall meetings, and finally a Presidential election, Republican candidate Donald J. Trump was elected the next President of the United States of America. 
 
Key electoral vote support came from battleground states including Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. Republicans will remain in control of the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives.
 
Once inaugurated in January 2017, President Trump will nominate, for Senate approval, leaders of all Federal Departments and Agencies. This will include a new EPA Administrator, as well as several Assistant Administrators, including one for the Office of Water.  

 
Some names being circulated to head up the US Environmental Protection Agency include Myron Ebell, who is with the Competitive Enterprise Institute and heads up the EPA working group on Trump’s transition team; Robert Grady, former George H.W. Bush OMB Executive Associate Director, and a former transition team member for the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; Joe Aiello, Director of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Environmental Safety and Quality Assurance; Carol Comer, Commissioner of Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management, an appointee of Indiana Governor Mike Pence, now Vice-President elect; and Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas Attorney General.  
 
Also, over the next several months, Congressional Committee chairmanships and memberships will be assigned. For those in the water sector, some key committees in the House include the Committee on Appropriations (specifically, the Energy and Water Development and the Interior and Environment Subcommittees), the Natural Resources Committee, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (specifically, the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee). Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) is term-limited as the Chairman of the Water Resources Subcommittee, which means that a replacement for him will be made in the coming months to lead what is expected to be a busy legislative agenda for the subcommittee in 2017.  
 
The key Senate Committees include the Committee on Appropriations (specifically, the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee and the Interior and Environment Subcommittee), the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Environment and Public Works Committee.  Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is also term-limited and is stepping down as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and is likely to be replaced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY). Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the Ranking Member is retiring and potential replacements include Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). WEF will keep you informed as these positions are assigned.
 
WEF congratulates these newly elected officials and looks forward to working with them. For more information on how you can engage with these newly elected officials, consider becoming a Water Advocate or attending the 2017 National Water Policy Forum, Fly-in, and Expo from March 21-22, in Washington, DC.
 
For more information, please contact Claudio H. Ternieden, WEF's Senior Director, Government Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at cternieden@wef.org or at (703) 684-2416.
 
WEF Staff Attends EPA WIFIA Info Session  
 
The US EPA is holding a series of information sessions across the nation to educate potential applicants about the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).  WIFIA establishes a new financing mechanism to accelerate investment in our nation’s water infrastructure. The WIFIA program will provide loans for up to 49 percent of eligible project costs for projects that will cost at least $20 million for large communities and $5 million for small communities (population of 25,000 or less). 
 
WEF staff attended the session in New York City on Monday, Nov. 7th, and can report that there was strong attendance and interest by potential applicants.  EPA staff went through the program in detail, covering everything from the criteria for potential projects to the application and selection process.  Experts from the EPA did a good job in answering questions about the kinds of projects that can apply and how to structure the financing for a WIFIA loan.  
 
The EPA will be holding additional information sessions in San Francisco on Nov. 14, Los Angeles on Nov. 15, and Dallas on Nov. 18, all of which are open to the public.   Register in advance at http://wifia.questionpro.com. Registration is on a first come, first serve basis. More details are available at www.epa.gov/wifia.
 

Survey for Utilities on Water Management & Disadvantaged Communities 

The US Water Alliance is launching a new project to explore how water management impacts disadvantaged communities, with a focus on advancing programs and policies that can secure a sustainable water future for all Americans. We know inclusive, integrated water management has the ability to improve outcomes for disadvantaged communities and we know there is great work happening across a range of stakeholder groups.  

 
The purpose of this survey is to better understand, catalog, and accelerate the adoption of promising programs and policies being undertaken by water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities. This is a great opportunity to showcase your utility's leadership. Interested utilities can participate in the survey here. Utilities who complete the survey will be entered to win 1 of 3 free registrations for the One Water Summit 2017. For more information, contact Danielle Mayorga at dmayorga@uswateralliance.org. 


 
Water Sector Asks Congress to Pass WRDA This Year 
 
WEF and eleven other water and municipal associations sent a letter on Oct. 31, 2016, to both the Senate and House calling for reconciliation and passage of the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) of 2016.    
 
Specifically, the letters ask that Congress include Title VII, Drinking Water and Clean Water Infrastructure, as part of WRDA, because it includes important measures to help communities meet safe and clean water obligations. The Senate's WRDA package does include Title VII.  While the House bill includes some of the provisions in Title VII (such as aid for communities facing drinking water emergencies and authorization of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative), other key provisions are omitted, such as an effort to address ratepayer affordability challenges and authorizations for investments to support clean and safe water infrastructure. 
 
Water Advocates and all WEF members are urged to write their Members of Congress to support passage of WRDA and inclusion of Title VII. Use this link to the Water Advocates page to find your members of the House and Senate and send a pre-drafted letter using the Water Advocates grassroots outreach tool.
 
 
Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Grants Available for 2017 
 
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC), in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USDA Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), FedEx, Southern Company and Alcoa Foundation are pleased to solicit applications for the 2017 Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration program. The Five Star and Urban Waters program will award approximately $2.5 million in grants nationwide.  They will be accepting proposals now through January 31, 2017.  
 
The Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grant program seeks to develop community capacity to sustain local natural resources for future generations by providing modest financial assistance to diverse local partnerships focused on improving water quality, watersheds and the species and habitats they support. Projects include a variety of ecological improvements including: wetland, riparian, forest and coastal habitat restoration; wildlife conservation; community tree canopy enhancement; and/or water quality monitoring and stormwater management; along with targeted community outreach, education and stewardship. NFWF may use a mix of public and private funding sources to support any grant made through this program.
 
Priority will be given to projects in urban, suburban and/or rural areas that advance water quality goals in environmental justice communities such as neighborhoods with high concentrations of minority and low-income populations. On behalf of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, EPA’s Urban Waters Program will give special consideration to project proposals that advance the priorities in the 19 Urban Waters Federal Partnership designated locations. 
 
Register now for a webinar on the application and the process: 
  •   November 15, 2016, 2-3:30 PM, EST. 
 
 
View details about and a map of these designated locations.
 
View the 2017 Request for Proposals.
 
EPA Fights Blending Suit 
 
On October 31st, EPA filed a brief in response to a October 21st oral argument in the case Center for Regulatory Reasonableness v. EPA, D.C. Cir, No. 14-01150 involving the EPA's wet weather policies. Specifically, in the brief, EPA outlines a series of options Clean Water Act (CWA) permit holders have under federal and some state laws to win judicial stays of their permits during appeals or court challenges.(Inside EPA, 11/1/16)
 
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set up the October 21st oral arguments in the wastewater utilities' suit over EPA's alleged failure to completely implement a ruling in a 2013 Eighth Circuit Court case (Iowa League of Cities v. EPA) across the county.  This ruling barred the EPA from restricting waterwater treatment plants' use of "blending" technology to mix partially and and fully-treated wastewater.  
 
 
WEF, National Network on Water Quality Trading, and Willamette Partnership Host a Workshop on Market-Based Stormwater Management 
 
On November 1st - 3rd, WEF joined the National Network on Water Quality Trading and Willamette Partnership in hosting a workshop:  "Market-Based Stormwater Management:  Today's Roadmap for Incentives, Markets & Crediting Programs."
 
 This workshop brought together representatives from local, state, and federal government agencies, private industry practitioners, and other stakeholders to discuss  economic and market-based strategies to address stormwater pollution, including trading, banking, off-sets, rebates, incentives, and more. 
 
The dialogue focused on the challenges to stormwater infrastructure development, including financing.  Attendees worked on a roadmap for market based approaches to stormwater management.    
 
For a copy of the agenda, click here.  For more information on this event or WEF's Stormwater Institute, contact Chris French, WEF Director, Stormwater Programs at cfrench@wef.org.  To read WEF's Stormwater Report on the funding gap issue, "Rainful to Results:  the Future of Stormwater," click here.  
 
Register Today for EPA’s Webinar Series on Financing: 
 
 
Communities are facing an increasing need to prepare for disasters and mitigate impacts to their water and wastewater infrastructure. With the emerging challenges of stronger and more frequent storms, droughts, and floods, the costs to respond are rising. EPA’s Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center and EPA's Water Security Division are hosting two free webinars to highlight the financing resources available to utilities and community decision makers for disaster recovery and resilience planning with mitigation. 
 
Webinar 1
  • Disaster Recovery Financing, November 22, 1:00 – 2:30 pm (ET): Register here. 
  • Describes how states and communities use SRF, FEMA, and other financing approaches to recover from a disaster. 
  • Utility and state speakers will share tips and examples.
 
Webinar 2
  • Resilience Mitigation Financing, December 7, 1:00 – 2:30 pm (ET): Register here. 
  • Focuses on tools and financing resources to conduct resilience planning and to mitigate impacts before a disaster strikes. 
  • Utilities will share stories about investing in resilient infrastructure.
 

EPA Hosting Webinars on its National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies Survey  

EPA is hosting two upcoming webinars to provide background on the National Study of Nutrient Removal and Secondary Technologies. The goals of the study are to establish a nationwide baseline for nutrient removal at publicly owned treatment works (POTWs), and to characterize low-cost options, such as operation and management practices, that result in improved nutrient control.  

EPA recently published a Federal Register notice (September 19, 2016) on the proposed initial phase of the study, which will collect basic information from all POTWs nationwide through a mandatory questionnaire. The webinars are intended to provide background on the study, and will specifically focus on demonstrating the content and electronic format of the draft questionnaire, published with the Federal Register notice. The webinars will take place on Thursday, November 10, at 10AM and 2PM EST

EPA invites those interested to attend one of the webinars. Attendees must register in advance, and space is limited. Webinar attendees will be prompted to submit questions in advance of the webinar during registration.

Registration for the webinars, a draft of the questionnaire, and more information on the study can be found at the study’s website and clicking on the “New: Upcoming Webinars” link.


 

Congress Hears a Call for Funding for Water Infrastructure Programs 

WEF and eight other water and municipal associations sent a letter on Oct. 27, 2016, to Congress calling for full funding for four of the most important infrastructure financing programs run by the federal government.  The letter was sent to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior and Environment, which are in the final stages of negotiating a Fiscal Year 2017 Budget.  The associations asked for Congress to provide robust funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs, the Water Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (WIFIA) and the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI program, which funds reuse projects in western states.

The letter is in conjunction with a call-to-action currently out for the WEF Water Advocates program.  Water Advocates and all WEF members are urged to write their Members of Congress to support full funding for water infrastructure programs in the FY17 Budget currently being finalized.  Use this link to the Water Advocates page to find your members of the House and Senate and send a pre-drafted letter using the Water Advocates grassroots outreach tool.


           

GAO Releases Report on American Community Survey 

On October 18th, Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) released a Government Accountability (GAO) report titled "Information on Selected Midsize and Large Cities with Declining Populations." The study looked at midsize (populations of 50,000 to 99,999) and large (populations of 100,000 or more) that have experienced declining populations and showed that these cities have higher poverty rates and unemployment rates and lower median incomes than those with growing populations. 

It also showed that many U.S. midsize and large cities face declining populations and falling water rate-payer revenues, complicating efforts to fund needed water infrastructure updates. (Bloomberg BNA, 9/18/16)

The Government Accountability Office report released by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said older cities that have lost jobs since the middle of the 20th century have lost water utility rate payer income and tax receipts. Increasing poverty in many of those cities has further complicated the pricing for water, the report said.

“The discovery of lead in the drinking water in Flint, Mich., in 2015 highlighted the risks that some cities confront in maintaining drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in the face of declining populations and deteriorating economic conditions,” J. Alfredo Gómez, Natural Resources and Environment director, said in the report's cover letter to Tonko, a House Energy and Commerce Committee subcommittee ranking member. 

For more information on this report, click here.


           

Oral Arguments Begin in Wet Weather Lawsuit in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 

On October 21st, oral arguments began in the case Center for Regulatory Reasonableness v. EPA, D.C. Cir, No. 14-01150 involving the EPA's wet weather policies. (Bloomberg BNA, 10/21/16) 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia set up these oral arguments in the wastewater utilities' suit over EPA's alleged failure to completely implement a ruling in a 2013 Eighth Circuit Court case (Iowa League of Cities v. EPA) across the county.  This ruling barred the EPA from restricting waterwater treatment plants' use of "blending" technology to mix partially and fully-treated wastewater.   

In the oral arguments, a representative for the plaintiffs listed the costs cities will incur if the wastewater management practices are banned.  An EPA official who was present did not comment after the arguments. 


 

 

 EPA Hosting WIFIA Implementation Information Sessions Across the Country 

Over the next several weeks, EPA will continue holding WIFIA Information Sessions across the country to learn how the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act ( WIFIA) program will be implemented in the coming year.  WIFIA establishes a new financing mechanism to accelerate investment in our nation's water infrastructure.  

At these sessions, you will learn about:   

  • Program basics, including current status, eligibility and statutory requirements, and anticipated schedule 
  • Application and selection process 
  • Creditworthiness assessment 
  • Examples of how WIFIA can be used and its potential cost savings 

Advance registration is required.  Space is limited. 

For more information, visit:  www.epa.gov/wifia or contact wifia@epa.gov. 

Click here to register. 


 

 

Public Works and Infrastructure Caucus Holds Briefing 

On October 19th, the House Public Works and Infrastructure Caucus held a briefing to focus on stormwater, drinking water, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), and water treatment.   

The packed briefing was geared towards helping Congressional staff learn more about the needs of water professionals - especially during the transition period, as one Congress draws to an close.  American Public Works Association Executive Director Scott Grayson moderated the briefing, which included handouts on Water Resources Management Modernization, a letter to House Transportation & Infrastructure Chair Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio in support of the passage of WRDA, and a Caucus summary. 

New Government Affairs Committee Chair:  Rudy S. Chow, P.E.

Last month in New Orleans, Rudy Chow, Director of the Department of Public Works in Baltimore, took over the reins of WEF's Government Affairs Committee.  According to his bio, Mr. Chow became the Director of the Baltimore City of Public Works (DPW) in February 2014, having been approved by the Baltimore City Council.  Prior to becoming Director, Mr. Chow served as the Head of DPW's Bureau of Water and Wastewater since February 2011, and was Deputy Director of the agency for several months before becoming Director.  To read more of his bio, click here. 

We welcome him as the new chair and sincerely thank our former chair, Alan Vicory of Stantec, for all his continued efforts! 

New In-Depth Report on Green Infrastructure Financing Tools 

On Oct. 13th, a report titled Financing Integrated Green Stormwater Infrastructure to Improve Community Health, Resiliency - Getting the Best Deal for the Money was released by Bloomberg BNA.  The report analyzes the challenges communities are facing with stormwater management and the variety of traditional and innovative financing tools available for stormwater infrastructure investments. 

It was authored by EPA Region 3 Deputy Director for Water Protection Division, Dominique Lueckenhoff, and Seth Brown, formerly of the Water Environment Federation and now founder of Storm & Stream Solutions, LLC.  The report is an excellent source of information for elected officials, water professionals, and policy makers.
 
House and Senate Pass Short Term C.R.; Flint Aid Added to WRDA    
 
On September 28th, the House easily passed a ten-week stopgap spending bill to keep the government operating until December 9th by a vote 342-85.  The Senate passed this same "continuing resolution" (CR) earlier in the day by a vote of 72-26, and the President signed it into law this afternoon.  Lawmakers have now left town until after the November elections. 
 
Earlier in the week, Senate Democrats blocked a CR, which included an additional $1.1 billion in funding to combat the spread of the Zika virus and $500 million to aid flood victims in Louisiana, West Virginia, and Maryland, but no aid directed at Flint, Michigan, to help with the ongoing drinking water crisis. 
 
Meanwhile, Congress has been working behind the scenes on a deal to include an amendment authorizing $170 million in funding for Flint, MI, to the House Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) bill, which also passed yesterday.  Once a promise was made to attach the Flint money to WRDA, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) were all ready to move forward and pass the short-term spending bill. 
 
Mid-month, the Senate nearly unanimously agreed on passage of their WRDA (S. 2848) bill, by a vote of 95-3.  While the House version of WRDA, H.R. 5303, focuses almost solely on traditional Army Corps civil works projects, the Senate bill includes several key provisions affecting water infrastructure funding.  Representatives and Senators will now meet in conference to work out the differences between the two WRDA bills, and hopefully send a final bill to the President's desk during the lame duck session.   


Senate To Hold First Stopgap Vote on September 19th  

 

On September 19th, the Senate will hold an initial vote to advance a stopgap spending bill, likely to continue funding the government until December 9th.  This Continuing Resolution (CR) is needed to fund the government beyond September 30th of this year. Lawmakers in both parties and both houses are working on the language (Bloomberg, 9/15/16). 

 Discussion is ongoing as to whether disaster relief related to Flint and/or flood aid for Louisiana will be included in this CR.  Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) stated that he doesn't "think any decision has been made as to what to include at this point.  The problem is there's a lot [of] different needs from different states.  I think it makes the most sense to deal with the [CR] and then come back and deal with that later when needs are clearer and quantifiable." 

 At the same time, House Appropriations Chair Hal Rogers (R-NY) said he continues to consider disaster inclusion (Bloomberg, 9/15/16). 

Senate Passes Bipartisan WRDA Legislation

 Washington, DC, September 15, 2016 —  Today, the Senate agreed on passage of  Water Resources Development Act (S. 2848) (WRDA), by a vote of 95-3.  This comprehensive Army Corps of Engineers authorization bill includes several key provisions affecting water infrastructure funding.  

S.2848 includes a Sense of the Senate provision, which cites the findings of the WEF/WateReuse analysis, and calls upon Congress to provide robust funding for the SRF programs.  WEF and WateReuse conducted the analysis at the request of the committee for an April 7th hearing that examined the federal role in water/wastewater infrastructure funding.  

Based on an assumption that the proposed $34.7 billion in allocations ($14.7 billion for drinking water and $20 billion for clean water) would be spent over a ten-year period (2017-2021), the final report results include: 

  • $34.7 billion in federal SRF spending results in $7.43 billion in federal tax revenues; 
  • When leveraged with the state SRF program funds, a $34.7 billion federal investment will result in $32.3 billion in federal tax revenue or $0.93 for every dollar spent; 
  • On average, 16.5 jobs are created for each million dollars of SRF funding, meaning that a $34.7 billion federal investment will result in 506,000 new jobs; and 
  • Every million dollars of SRF spending results in $2.95 million in U.S. economic input, meaning that a $34.7 billion federal investment will generate $102.7 billion in total economic input. 

Read a section by section summary of S.2848 here 

The House version of WRDA, H.R. 5303, focuses almost solely on traditional Army Corps civil works projects.  While the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 5303 in May, the bill has not yet been scheduled for a floor vote.  However, Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) commented that he hoped the bill would be scheduled for consideration on the House floor next week (Politico, 9/15/2016).      

Senate Brings WRDA Bill to the Floor 

On September 7th, the Senate agreed by voice vote to proceed with consideration of the Water Resources Development Act (S. 2848), a sweeping Army Corps of Engineers authorization bill, which includes several key provisions affecting water infrastructure funding.  The Senate is expected to take up the bill early next week.  You can click here to encourage the Senate to pass this legislation.  

The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee passed S. 2848 on April 28th. The EPW Committee included a Sense of the Senate provision in S. 2848, which cited the findings of the WEF/WateReuse analysis, and calls upon Congress to provide robust funding for the SRF programs.  WEF and WateReuse conducted the analysis at the request of the committee for an April 7th hearing that examined the federal role in water/wastewater infrastructure funding.  

Based on an assumption that the proposed $34.7 billion in allocations ($14.7 billion for drinking water and $20 billion for clean water) would be spent over a ten-year period (2017-2021), the final report results include: 

  • $34.7 billion in federal SRF spending results in $7.43 billion in federal tax revenues; 
  • When leveraged with the state SRF program funds, a $34.7 billion federal investment will result in $32.3 billion in federal tax revenue or $0.93 for every dollar spent; 
  • On average, 16.5 jobs are created for each million dollars of SRF funding, meaning that a $34.7 billion federal investment will result in 506,000 new jobs; and 
  • Every million dollars of SRF spending results in $2.95 million in U.S. economic input, meaning that a $34.7 billion federal investment will generate $102.7 billion in total economic input.   

Read a section by section summary of S. 2848 here.

Over the summer recess, Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chair and Ranking Member of the Energy and Public Works Committee, agreed to a manager's amendment that includes a change to the WIFIA application fees saying they could be financed regardless of the size of the community. 

The House version of WRDA. H.R. 5303, focuses almost solely on traditional Army Corps civil works projects.  While the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved H.R. 5303 in May, the bill has not yet been scheduled for a floor vote.  


 
Senate Leans Towards a Short Term Continuing Resolution
 

According to The Hill on September 7th, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced his desire to bring the short term funding bill up for a vote as soon as next week.“We’re going to work toward the Dec. 9 date at last year’s levels,” he told reporters during his weekly press conference. “We’re looking for a way forward.”  

McConnell added that he’s already started talks with Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and the White House, who have pledged to block any stopgap funding measure, called a continuing resolution, that stretches into 2017. 

The comments highlight McConnell’s desire to get his conference out of Washington and back to the campaign trail as soon as possible. 

Senate Republicans are defending 24 seats, which has created an incentive to finish work on a funding bill quickly so that vulnerable senators can return to their home states to campaign.  However, House conservatives, many of whom are representing safe districts, want to avoid a lame-duck spending bill.  

 McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are typically in close communication on funding measures. 
 

 WEF Launches New Water Advocates Website  

 
WEF has launched a new website and on-line grassroots advocacy tool for the Water Advocates program.  WEF members and water sector professionals can access the website for important legislative and regulatory matters, and calls-to-action on issues impacting the water sector.  The website can be accessed by using this link: http://cqrcengage.com/wef/home.  
 
Also, a number of grassroots tools on the website help WEF members engage with their elected officials.  Although the website is accessible to all water professionals, WEF invites you to become a member of the WEF Water Advocates program to increase your effectiveness in advocating for the water sector.  
 
It’s now easier than ever to join the WEF Water Advocates program.  As an advocate, you will receive periodic emails about priority legislative and regulatory issues, and calls-to-action when your voice as a water professional should be heard by your elected officials.  It’s free to join, and you will get the knowledge and tools you need to be an advocate for the interests of your profession.
 

 Two Important Calls-to-Action  
 
Featured on the Water Advocates website are two calls-to-action on significant bills currently pending in Congress.  WEF is urging you to use the easy on-line “Write your Congressman” tool on the website to electronically submit the pre-drafted letters to your Senators and Representatives.  The tool gives you the flexibility to edit/add to the draft letter.  The tool will identify your Members of Congress and uses the official Congressional correspondence process so your email will not get marked as spam. 
 
The first call-to-action letter is urging the House and Senate to increase funding for water infrastructure in the FY 2017 appropriations bills.  The draft letter asks Congress to fund the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Programs at $2 billion each, which is the amount called for in a joint water associations letter to Congress earlier this year.  The benefits of a funding increase for the SRF programs were recently detailed in a new report by WEF and the WateReuse Association that found that for every $1 million in SRF funding, $930,000 is returned to the federal treasury in tax revenues, 16.5 high-paying jobs are created, and $2.95 million in economic growth is generated in the U.S. economy.  A link to the report is included in the draft letters for Members of Congress to access.
 
The second call-to-action letter urges the Senate to pass the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA).  The Senate version of the WRDA bill includes a number of important policy and funding provisions that will benefit water infrastructure investment.  The bill was passed out of committee earlier this year, but it now needs to go to the Senate floor.  The draft letter asks your Senator to urge Senate Majority Leader McConnell to bring the WRDA bill to the floor and pass it with the water infrastructure provisions.
 

 New Water Advocates Toolkit Now Posted on Website 
 
WEF has developed a handy toolkit to help members and Member Associations in their grassroots advocacy efforts.  As water professionals, WEF members can, and should, be the voice for the water sector before elected officials.  The toolkit explains the benefits of grassroots advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels, and provides advice and guidance on how to engage with your elected officials and the public on important issues impacting the water sector.  The toolkit outlines essential steps to grassroots advocacy, as well as provides quick tips on calling, writing and meeting with elected officials.  
 
The free toolkit includes useful links to Congressional and federal agency websites and directories. WEF members are urged to download the PDF version of the toolkit on the Water Advocates website and print it for future reference.  Member Associations are urged to share it with their members as a resource. 
 

 House Passes First Interior, EPA Spending Bill in Seven Years 
 
Yesterday, the House passed a $32.1 billion bill to fund the FY17 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (HR 5538), mostly along party lines. This is also the first time the House has passed this bill in since 2009.
 
The bill, which provides $32.095 billion, is $64 million below the FY 2016 enacted level and $1 billion below the President’s budget request. 
The bill proposes to fund water infrastructure programs at the following levels for FY17:
  • $2.1 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), including an increase of $207 million over the current level for the Drinking Water SRF – however, while the Clean Water SRF is funded at $1 billion, a nearly $400 million decrease in funding from the enacted FY16 level, the Drinking Water SRF is funded at $1.07 billion, slightly more than the draft bill last year. 
  • $50 million for the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (WIFIA) program ($5 million of which would be spent on administering WIFIA), which will generate an estimated $5 billion in water infrastructure construction; 
  • $109.7 million for state grants, a $7.7 million increase above the current level, to improve operations and oversight of drinking water systems; and 
  • $6.5 million, the full requested amount, for integrated planning activities within EPA’s Office of Water to assist communities as they plan to replace pipes. 
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The bill funds the EPA at $7.98 billion, a reduction of $164 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $291 million below the President’s budget request. 
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The bill includes $1.1 billion for the USGS, $18 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.  
 

This funding bill includes a handful of policy riders to block EPA regulations, including those dealing with water, power plant emissions and coal mining near waterways. 

During floor debate this week, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA) referred to "a great deal of concern over the number of regulatory actions being pursued by the EPAin the absence of legislation and without clear congressional direction.  For this reason, the bill includes a number of provisions to stop unnecessary and damaging regulatory overreach by the agency." 
 
Many Members were concerned with the bill for reducing clean water funding and endangered species provisions, though both sides spoke positively of funding levels for Native American programming and the National Parks sections of the bill. 
 
Also, a measure to fund water testing in Flint, MI, and forgive some of the city's loans as it recovers from a drinking water crisis, was included in the final House bill.  (The Hill)
 
To read Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers' statement on the passage of the bill, click here.
 
The White House has threatened to veto the bill.
 
 
WEF Pushes House to Act on WRDA 
On Wednesday, WEF and 15 other stakeholders sent a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy requesting quick action on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016 (HR 5303), so Congress is able to complete work on the legislation this year.   
 
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed this bipartisan legislation in May.   
 
The bill authorizes critical U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, programs, and policies, and includes a water infrastructure title with a number of beneficial and long-sought drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater provisions. 
 
The Senate version of the bill, S. 2848, includes an additional "Sense of the Senate."  Cited in the water infrastructure title is the WEF/WateReuse Analysis of National Economic, Job Creation, and Tax Revenue Benefits from Increased Funding to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds. 
 
Previously, organizations including WEF, reached out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in two separate letters requesting fast action on the legislation - one from a coalition of 16 water and municipal organizations and the other from over 87 stakeholders.  WRDA cleared the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on April 28, 2016 by a vote of 19-1, and includes a variety of important provisions for the water sector.   
 
On June 20th, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), released a statement saying the "clean" CBO score in a report put out in June 17th on WRDA means Congress "can now move forward on its constitutional duty to support our nation’s infrastructure and interstate commerce." 
 
CBO estimates that WRDA will cost a total of $4,8 billion over five years, and a total of $10.6 billion over the 2017-2026 span. 
 

 House Members Add More Riders to EPA Spending Bill 
 
This week, House members submitted more than 150 amendments to the House Rules Committee to tack on to the FY17 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (HR 5538).  The committee will convene July 11 to determine which amendments will be considered.
 
Representatives submitted amendments to block funding for new requirements on offshore drilling and fracking, as well as prohibitions on offshore financial assurance rulemaking.  Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) proposed an amendment to bar funds for any administration proposal that doesn't include cost benefit analysis information. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) submitted a measure to ban regulatory actions of $100 million or more.  (Bloomberg BNA)
 
On June 15th, the House passed its version of the bill out of the full Appropriations Committee.  On May 25th, the Interior-Environment Subcommittee approved the legislation. Click here to see the committee report.
 
The House bill provides $32.095 billion, which is $64 million below the FY 2016 enacted level and $1 billion below the President’s budget request.
 
The bill proposes to fund water infrastructure programs at the following levels for FY17:
  • $2.1 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), including an increase of $207 million over the current level for the Drinking Water SRF – however, while the Clean Water SRF is funded at $1 billion, a nearly $400 million decrease in funding from the enacted FY16 level, the Drinking Water SRF is funded at $1.07 billion, slightly more than the draft bill last year. 
  • $50 million for the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (WIFIA) program ($5 million of which would be spent on administering WIFIA), which will generate an estimated $5 billion in water infrastructure construction; 
  • $109.7 million for state grants, a $7.7 million increase above the current level, to improve operations and oversight of drinking water systems; and 
  • $6.5 million, the full requested amount, for integrated planning activities within EPA’s Office of Water to assist communities as they plan to replace pipes. 
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The bill funds the EPA at $7.98 billion, a reduction of $164 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $291 million below the President’s budget request. 
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The bill includes $1.1 billion for the USGS, $18 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.  
 
 
The bill contains a number of legislative provisions, including a prohibition on the EPA from making changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act.
 

 Senate Completes All Twelve Appropriations Bills 
 
On Wednesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee cleared its last bill (to fund the State Department and foreign operations) by a vote of 30-0.  This is the earliest point since 1988 and includes the Chamber's first bipartisan health bill in seven years. Three bills have already spent time on the floor.  (The Hill)
 
Both Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski have credited the opposite party's willingness to work together.
 
As a reminder, on June 14th, the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee passed its FY17 spending bill by voice vote, and on June 16th, the full Appropriations Committee marked up and passed the legislation along party lines.  A Majority summary of the bill is posted here.
 
The Senate spending bill would fund the EPA at $8.1 billion - which is $31.2 million below the FY16 enacted level.  The Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs would receive over $2.37 billion - an increase of $113 million over the FY16 enacted level and $370 above the President's budget.  Specifically, Clean Water SRF would be funded at $1.35 billion and Drinking Water SRF at $1.02 billion for FY17.  
 
The Water Infrastructure Finance Act (WIFIA) is funded at $30 million in the bill, which is $10 million above the President's request and is designed to help improve water infrastructure by enabling hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to address current infrastructure needs.
 
Furthermore, $3 million is provided for a pilot program to assist communities successful implement plans under EPA's Integrated Planning Initiative as a part of Water Quality Protection.
Finally, the Senate bill would offer $1.068 million to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) which is $6 million above the FY16 enacted numbers.
 
The bill contains several controversial riders, including one to delay the currently stayed Clean Water Rule for one year.  After commenting negatively on the policy riders, Vice-Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski noted, "I want to recognize the increase in water infrastructure funding.  The small, but significant increase will help protect children from lead poisoning and modernize inadequate infrastructure." (Bloomberg BNA)
 
Read Chairman Cochran's statement on the passage of all twelve bills. 
 

 EPA Issues First Year Implementation Plan for TSCA  
 
On June 29th, EPA posted an implementation plan for the bipartisan Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) overhaul titled the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act signed into law last week.
 
During the signing, President Obama stated that now the attention now falls on how EPA implements these new regulations and new programs.  
 
For answers to FAQs about this new law, click here.
 
For a summary of the key provisions in the new law, click here.
 

 WEF and Other Stakeholders Send Letter to McConnell on WRDA 
 
This week, over 87 organizations, including WEF, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA), to the Senate floor as soon as possible.  The Senate will begin its summer recess on July 15th.  WRDA cleared the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on April 28, 2016 by a vote of 19-1, and includes a variety of important provisions for the water sector.  
 
In addition to authorization for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, programs, and policies, the bill also includes a water infrastructure title with a number of beneficial and long-sought drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater provisions.  Cited in the water infrastructure title is the WEF/WateReuse Analysis of National Economic, Job Creation, and Tax Revenue Benefits from Increased Funding to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds.
 
Last week, a coalition of 16 water and municipal associations, including WEF, sent a letter to Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) requesting fast action on the legislation.
 
 
Sen. Inhofe Urges WRDA Passage 
 
On June 20th, Senator Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), released a statement saying the "clean" CBO score in a report put out in June 17th on the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA), S.2848, means Congress "can now move forward on its constitutional duty to support our nation’s infrastructure and interstate commerce."
He went on to explain, "This bill is a win for every Member of Congress. It reflects hard work to address critical, apolitical needs across our nation to expand and modernize our ports and waterways to compete with the rest of world, support needed flood control projects, and provide support for clean water and safe drinking water infrastructure."
 
CBO estimates that WRDA will cost a total of $4.8 billion over five years, and a total of $10.6 billion over the 2017-2026 span.
 
Sen. Inhofe is joined by the Committee's Ranking Member, Sen. Boxer (D-CA) and many water industry and municipal groups in encouraging floor time and passage of the legislation before July.  Debating the bill is expected to take four to five days once it reaches the floor.  (Inside EPA)
 

 President Obama Signs Chemical Reform Legislation into Law 
 
On June 22nd, President Obama signed the bipartisan Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) overhaul titled the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act into law.  
He did the signing on the White House lawn and noted the importance of the legislation stating, "For the first time in 20 years, we are updating a national environmental statute.  For the first time in our history, we’ll actually be able to regulate chemicals effectively."
 
The President also stated that now the attention will fall on how EPA implements these new regulations and new programs that will be created as a result of the law.
 
For answers to FAQs about this new law, click here.
For a summary of the key provisions in the new law, click here.
 

 House and Senate EPA Funding Bills Marked Up 
 
On June 14th, the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee passed its FY17 spending bill by voice vote, and on June 16th, the full Appropriations Committee marked up and passed the legislation along party lines.  A Majority summary of the bill is posted here.
 
The Senate spending bill would fund the EPA at $8.1 billion - which is $31.2 million below the FY16 enacted level.  The Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs would receive over $2.37 billion - an increase of $113 million over the FY16 enacted level and $370 above the President's budget.  Specifically, Clean Water SRF would be funded at $1.35 billion and Drinking Water SRF at $1.02 billion for FY17.  
 
The Water Infrastructure Finance Act (WIFIA) is funded at $30 million in the bill, which is $10 million above the President's request and is designed to help improve water infrastructure by enabling hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to address current infrastructure needs.
 
Furthermore, $3 million is provided for a pilot program to assist communities successful implement plans under EPA's Integrated Planning Initiative as a part of Water Quality Protection.
Finally, the Senate bill would offer $1.068 million to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) which is $6 million above the FY16 enacted numbers.
 
The bill contains several controversial riders, including one to delay the currently stayed Clean Water Rule for one year.  After commenting negatively on the policy riders, Vice-Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski noted, "I want to recognize the increase in water infrastructure funding.  The small, but significant increase will help protect children from lead poisoning and modernize inadequate infrastructure." Bloomberg BNA
 
Meanwhile, on June 15th, the House passed its version of the bill out of the full Appropriations Committee.  On May 25th, the Interior-Environment Subcommittee approved the legislation. Click here to view the bill and here to see the committee report.
 
The House bill provides $32.095 billion, which is $64 million below the FY 2016 enacted level and $1 billion below the President’s budget request.
 
The bill proposes to fund water infrastructure programs at the following levels for FY17:
  • $2.1 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), including an increase of $207 million over the current level for the Drinking Water SRF – however, while the Clean Water SRF is funded at $1 billion, a nearly $400 million decrease in funding from the enacted FY16 level, the Drinking Water SRF is funded at $1.07 billion, slightly more than the draft bill last year. 
  • $50 million for the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (WIFIA) program ($5 million of which would be spent on administering WIFIA), which will generate an estimated $5 billion in water infrastructure construction; 
  • $109.7 million for state grants, a $7.7 million increase above the current level, to improve operations and oversight of drinking water systems; and 
  • $6.5 million, the full requested amount, for integrated planning activities within EPA’s Office of Water to assist communities as they plan to replace pipes. 
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The bill funds the EPA at $7.98 billion, a reduction of $164 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $291 million below the President’s budget request. 
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The bill includes $1.1 billion for the USGS, $18 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.  
 
The bill contains a number of legislative provisions, including a prohibition on the EPA from making changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act.  
 
Both bills are headed to their respected floors.
 

 WEF and Others Urge Senate to Pass WRDA 
 
This week a coalition of 16 water and municipal associations, including WEF, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring S. 2848, the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA), to the Senate floor before the Senate starts its summer recess on July 15th.  WRDA cleared the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee on April 28, 2016 by a vote of 19-1, and includes a variety of important provisions for the water sector.  
 
In addition to authorization for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects, programs, and policies, the bill also includes a water infrastructure title with a number of beneficial and long-sought drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater provisions.  Cited in the water infrastructure title is the WEF/WateReuse Analysis of National Economic, Job Creation, and Tax Revenue Benefits from Increased Funding to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds.
 
 
House and Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Mark-ups Both Set for Next Week 
 
On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee spokesperson announced that they will mark up that chamber's bill to fund the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and related agencies for FY 2017 on June 14th.  On May 25th, the House Interior-Environment Subcommittee approved the legislation, which is still in draft form. 
 
Senate Interior-Environment appropriators are set to mark up their counterpart legislation in subcommittee on the same day, followed by a full committee markup June 16th. Senate Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has said that bill, which has yet to be unveiled, won't contain controversial riders.  (Bloomberg BNA)
 
 
TSCA Reform Bill Ready to Be Signed into Law 
 
On June 7, the Senate gave final approval to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (HR 2576), which is an overhaul of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).  The bill is now on its way to the President's desk where he is expected to sign it.
 
This bill attempts to improve chemical safety while also encouraging continued innovation and economic growth.  One of the goals of the bill is to remove a number of obstacles in current law thought by some to be preventing EPA from fully regulating unsafe chemicals.  Under current law around 64,000 chemicals are not subject to environmental testing or regulations.  This new bill would require EPA to start to conduct tests on these chemicals - but at a practical, manageable pace.  (NY Times)
 
Also, this bill contains a preemption provision (which caused Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to place a now-released hold on the bill in late May), which would allow the EPA's regulations to "pre-empt"stronger state level rules.
 
Click here to read a fact sheet on the bill.
 

 House Committee Releases FY 2017 Spending Bill for EPA 
 
On May 25th, the House Appropriations Committee passed their draft FY 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.  The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and various independent and related agencies. 
 
The bill provides $32.095 billion, which is $64 million below the FY 2016 enacted level and $1 billion below the President’s budget request.
 
The bill proposes to fund water infrastructure programs at the following levels for FY17:
 
  • $2.1 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), including an increase of $207 million over the current level for the Drinking Water SRF – however, while the Clean Water SRF is funded at $1 billion, a nearly $400 million decrease in funding from the enacted FY16 level, the Drinking Water SRF is funded at $1.07 billion, slightly more than the draft bill last year. 
  • $50 million for the new Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation (WIFIA) program ($5 million of which would be spent on administering WIFIA), which will generate an estimated $5 billion in water infrastructure construction; 
  • $109.7 million for state grants, a $7.7 million increase above the current level, to improve operations and oversight of drinking water systems; and 
  • $6.5 million, the full requested amount, for integrated planning activities within EPA’s Office of Water to assist communities as they plan to replace pipes. 
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The bill funds the EPA at $7.98 billion, a reduction of $164 million below the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $291 million below the President’s budget request. 
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) – The bill includes $1.1 billion for the USGS, $18 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. Funding is targeted to programs dealing with natural hazards, streamgages, the groundwater monitoring network, and mapping activities. Also, within the total, the bill includes $10 million for an earthquake early warning system to help save lives during natural disasters, and $6 million for the accelerated launch of “Landsat 9” – a satellite program that provides land use measurements that are important to local communities for agriculture, forestry, energy and water resource decisions. 
 
 
The bill contains a number of legislative provisions, including a prohibition on the EPA from making changes to the definition of “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act. 
 
The Senate Interior and Environment bill has not yet been released.
 

 Congress Considers Chemical Law Overhaul Legislation 
 
On May 24th, by a vote of 403-12, the House passed an update of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) legislation.  This is the first significant and consequential update in 40 years.  This is also the largest margin of victory for a major environmental bill in decades.
 
This bill - titled the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (HR 2576) - would give the EPA more authority to obtain toxicity, exposure and other information about chemicals, as well as eliminate certain requirements that made it difficult for the EPA to regulate chemicals in commerce.  
 
The bill is now in the Senate where Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has placed a hold on the bill, so that he can spend more time reading and considering it.  
 
Both Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate believe it will pass following the Memorial Day recess. (Bloomberg BNA)
 
 
Zika Control Bill Passed in House 
 
On May 24th, the House passed the Zika Vector Control Act (HR 897), which would discharge permits for pesticides sprayed on or near waters until September 30, 2018.  The bill passed by a vote of 258-156 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.  
 
Specifically, the legislation would remove the permits requirements under the Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for pesticides that are already registered under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.  This could potential remove permits for some 365,000 pesticide users that need to get permits now.
 
However, the White House has issued a veto threat, claiming that the bill would "weaken environmental protections under the Clean Water Act by exempting pesticide spraying from the currently required Pesticide General Permit. (Bloomberg BNA)
 

 House Water Infrastructure Bill Advances 
 
On May 25th, the House Transportation and Infrastructure passed a bipartisan $5 billion water infrastructure bill, their version of the Water Resources and Development Act (HR 5303)
 
The House bill steers clear of provisions that would expand the water infrastructure 2016 measure beyond the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works mission into assistance for drinking water systems and authorization of assistance for wastewater systems.
 
Proposed amendments to allow the Corps to help localities such as Flint, Mich., with drinking water systems and to reauthorize the Clean Water State Revolving Fund were offered, discussed and withdrawn.
 
In contrast, the $9.35 billion Senate bill, approved by committee April 28, would assist Flint and other areas with lead contamination and other problems in drinking water systems, and includes a Sense of the Senate provision which cited the findings of the WEF/WateReuse analysis.
 
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) expressed her hope that a conference would follow the initiative of the Senate bill by assisting drinking water and wastewater systems. 
 
The bill  would authorize 29 feasibility studies and four substantial project modifications. 
 
On May 10th, a group of water associations, including WEF, sent a letter to Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member for the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, and Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment to encourage them to consider including specific language in their Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for 2016.
 
Specifically, the letter asks these leaders to include a provision in WRDA that will require increased coordination between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and municipalities and will encourage local and federal officials to manage water as one resource with multiple purposes.  The suggested language is as follows:
 
“sec. xxx.—INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES PLANNING. In carrying out a water resources development feasibility study, the Secretary shall coordinate with local governments in the watershed area covered by such study to determine if local or regional water management plans exist or are under development for the purposes of stormwater management, water quality improvement, aquifer recharge, or water reuse. When such local or regional water management plans do exist in the watershed, the Secretary, in cooperation with the non-federal sponsor and affected local public entities, shall seek opportunities for mutually beneficial management of water resources.” 
 
To read the full letter, click here.  This request was included in the manager's amendment during the bill mark-up.  A floor date has not yet been set for the House bill. Senate EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe expects the bill to be brought to the floor in the Senate in June or early July.
 

 House Panel Advances Prospects for Water Projects 
 
Earlier this week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment moved closer to authorizing 28 new water infrastructure projects to support commerce, flood control, and environmental restoration.  All 28 projects may be authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.  
 
The subcommittee also got an update during a hearing from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on preperations for the next round of project studies.  To read Maj. General Donald Jackson's testimony, click here.
 
Subcommittee Chair Bob Gibbs prepared opening remarks on this matter. (Bloomberg BNA)
 
As a reminder, on April 28th, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed their version of the The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 - including a Sense of the Senate provision which cited the findings of the WEF/WateReuse analysis, and calls upon Congress to provide robust funding for the SRF programs. Senate EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe expects the bill to be brought to the floor in the Senate in June or early July.
  
 
Infrastructure Week 2016 Shows Why #InfrastructureMatters 
 
Infrastructure Week 2016 began across the nation on May 16th and will continue to run through May 23rd.  This national, annual week of events helps to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting all Americans.  
 
There have been multiple ways to get involved this year from planning an event to writing to Congress, writing an op-ed, hosting a field trip, and much, much more.  This is also a great opportunity to engage the next generation.  For more information on ways to participate in the future click here.  To download an affiliate toolkit, click here.
 
On May 16th, WEF Members attended a kick-off event on Monday morning which included equal or superior focus on water infrastructure vs. other kinds of infrastructure. 
 
May 18th was Infrastructure Advocacy Day and Building America’s Future Co-Chair Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) started the day by pointing out the high percentage of state initiatives to improve infrastructure that are approved by voters.
 
The briefing included remarks from all four of Infrastructure Week’s Congressional Co-Chairs: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Garett Graves (R-LA), and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY). Each Member of Congress took a few minutes to talk about why #InfrastructureMatters and highlighted the important work Infrastructure Week and its participants are doing.
 
The theme for 2016 is "Infrastructure Matters."  Tweet why #InfrastrucureMatters to you!
 

 WEF and Other Key Groups Write Congress on WRDA Legislation 
 
On May 10th, WEF and other key groups sent a letter to Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), Chair of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member for the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Chair of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, and Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Envirnment to encourage them to consider including specific language in their Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) for 2016. 

 
Specifically, the letter asks these leaders to include a provision in WRDA that will require increased coordination between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and municipalities and will encourage local and federal officials to manage water as one resource with multiple purposes.  The suggested language is as follows: 
“sec. xxx.—INTEGRATED WATER RESOURCES PLANNING. In carrying out a water resources development feasibility study, the Secretary shall coordinate with local governments in the watershed area covered by such study to determine if local or regional water management plans exist or are under development for the purposes of stormwater management, water quality improvement, aquifer recharge, or water reuse. When such local or regional water management plans do exist in the watershed, the Secretary, in cooperation with the non-federal sponsor and affected local public entities, shall seek opportunities for mutually beneficial management of water resources.” 
To read the full letter, click here. 

 
On April 28th, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed their version of the legislation -  S. 2848, The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 - including a Sense of the Senate provision which cited the findings of the WEF/WateReuse analysis, and calls upon Congress to provide robust funding for the SRF programs. Senate EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe expects the bill to be brought to the floor in the Senate in June or early July. 

 
Read a section by section summary of S.2848 here. 

 

 Utilities Back Bill Creating Sewer and Water Assistance Program Pilot 

 
On May 12th, water and wastewater utility officials from Cleveland, OH, Jackson, MS, and Washington DC, gathered at a House briefing and urged Congress to create a program modeled after the federal Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help poor residents who are unable to afford their water and sewer bills avoid shutdowns.  They spoke specifically about a pilot program Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)offered to create in a bill she introduced earlier this year. 

 
The Low Income Sewer and Water Assistance Program Act of 2016 (H.R. 4542), introduced by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in February, would require the EPA to establish a pilot program modeled after the heating assistance program that would provide at least 10 grants to municipalities to assist low-income households with high water and sewer bills. 

 
The Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that assists low-income families with paying for home heating bills, energy crises, weatherization and minor energy-related repairs. 

 
“There is no question that an assistance program is necessary,” George Hawkins, chief executive officer and general manager for D.C. Water, told the staffers. He said LIHEAP has been a highly successful program. (Bloomberg BNA) 

 

 Senate Approves $37.5 Billion Energy and Water Appropriations Bill 

 
On May 12th, the Senate voted 90-8 to approve a $37.5 billion FY 2017 energy and water spending bill (H.R. 2028).  This bill, which is the chamber's first appropriations bill of the year, would fund the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation. 

 
The bill also includes a provision sought by Alpha Natural Resources and other mining companies that prohibits any changes to the definition of “fill material” and “discharge of fill material” under the Clean Water Act. 

 
With passage of the Senate bill, attention now turns to the House's $37.4 billion version, which was been approved by the House Appropriations Committee in April but has yet to see floor time.  The House bill includes language that would block the Obama administration's Clean Water Rule and has sections of the House-passed California drought legislation (H.R. 2898). (Bloomberg BNA) 
  
 

 WEF Releases Study on Return of Investment in Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs 
 
A new economic benefits analysis study of the impacts of increased funding for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRF), released on Tuesday by the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the WateReuse Association, has revealed that a requested $34.7 billion of federal SRF spending will generate $102.7 billion in total economic input and create more than 500,000 U.S. jobs.
 
WEF and WateReuse conducted the analysis at the request of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for an April 7 hearing that examined the federal role in water/wastewater infrastructure funding. 
 
The preliminary findings were included in the organizations’ joint testimony and have since been verified and officially entered into the Committee’s official record. Using the IMPLAN economic model—which captures the effect of spending as it ripples through the economy—the organizations examined the estimated impacts (output, labor income, jobs, and federal tax revenue) of SRF-funded projects in four example states.
 
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee included a Sense of the Senate provision in S. 2848, The Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which cited the findings of the WEF/WateReuse analysis, and calls upon Congress to provide robust funding for the SRF programs. The Committee passed S. 2848 on April 28 and the bill is now awaiting full Senate consideration.
 
Based on an assumption that the proposed $34.7 billion in allocations ($14.7 billion for drinking water and $20 billion for clean water) would be spent over a ten-year period (2017-2021), the final report results include:
  • $34.7 billion in federal SRF spending results in $7.43 billion in federal tax revenues; 
  • When leveraged with the state SRF program funds, a $34.7 billion federal investment will result in $32.3 billion in federal tax revenue or $0.93 for every dollar spent; 
  • On average, 16.5 jobs are created for each million dollars of SRF funding, meaning that a $34.7 billion federal investment will result in 506,000 new jobs; and 
  • Every million dollars of SRF spending results in $2.95 million in U.S. economic input, meaning that a $34.7 billion federal investment will generate $102.7 billion in total economic input. 
 
Read a section by section summary of S.2848 here. 
 
“SRFs are widely acknowledged as one of the most successful infrastructure funding programs, yet the resources needed to maintain and upgrade our systems remains out of sync with current investment levels,” said WEF Executive Director Eileen O’Neill. “This report shows that water and wastewater infrastructure is a sound and wise economic investment that also provides immeasurable returns for public health, the environment, and our future.”
 
“There’s little dispute that our nation’s infrastructure is badly in need of repair,” said WateReuse Association Executive Director Melissa Meeker. “With release of this report, it’s also abundantly clear that SRFs both contribute to a high quality of life for taxpayers and foster a robust economy.”
 
To find out more information please contact WEF Legislative Affairs, Steve Dye, sdye@wef.org. 
 

 Senate EPW Committee Passes Bill with WEF SRF Study and Other Water Infrastructure Initiatives 
 
This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in a 19-1 vote passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) that includes a provision that cites a recent WEF study and other water infrastructure funding, including a $220 million aid package for Flint, Michigan.  S.2848 will provide for the conservation and development of water and related resources, to authorize the Secretary of the Army to construct various projects for improvements to rivers and harbors of the United States.
  
Thanks to the bipartisan cooperation and willingness of Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to include significant drinking water and clean water policy and funding provisions in the bill, the legislation is one of the most noteworthy water bills in Congress in the last two  years.  Of note, Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Boxer have both been championing the importance of the SRF programs, and this bill continues those efforts.  A study that WEF and WateReuse Association will soon to be releasing is highlighted in Section 7002, a Sense of the Senate that calls upon Congress to substantially increase funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF.  The provision cites the WEF/WateReuse study that analyzed the economic, job creation and federal tax revenue benefits of increased federal funding for the SRF programs.  The full study will be released on Monday, May 2.
 
The bill also includes a number of other major water infrastructure funding and policy matters.  It makes the WIFIA program permanent by removing “Pilot Program” from it’s name, and provides for additional money through the Flint aid package to go towards WIFIA projects.  Additionally, if enacted, the bill will create a new trust fund to support the CW and DW SRF programs through revenues generated by manufactures that place a voluntary label on products.  The bill will also set aside approximately $25 million in grant funding for technical assistance to small and medium sized WRRFs. 
 
Also, the EPA is directed to promote the integration of green infrastructure into permitting programs, planning efforts, research, technical assistance, and funding guidance.
 
The bill also directs the EPA to not use median household income as the sole indicator of affordability when assessing a community’s financial capabilities to make water infrastructure investments.  Additionally, the bill authorizes permits to incorporate integrated plans, which may combine requirements related to a combined sewer overflow; a capacity, management, operation, and maintenance program for sanitary sewer collection systems; a municipal stormwater discharge; a municipal wastewater discharge; and a water quality-based effluent limitation to implement an applicable wasteload allocation in a total maximum daily load. It directs the EPA to notify communities of the opportunity to prepare integrated plans in the context of consent decrees or administrative orders. Establishes an integrated plan as a basis for a request to modify an administrative order or consent decree.
 
Finally, the bill will authorize $50 million for the EPA to make grants to accelerate the development of innovative technologies to address pressing water challenges.

 


 True LEADership Act Introduced in Senate 

 

On April 20, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and twenty-six original co-sponsors introduced the True, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016 or True LEADership Act (S.2821) 

The bill would provide additional federal funding for water infrastructure, tax credits for homeowners to remove lead, and grants to schools to help children survive the effects of lead poisoning.  

Reforms in the True LEADership Act include:  

  • Increasing investments in our water infrastructure, particularly through a grant program specifically designed for projects that reduce lead in tap water 
  • Establishing a mandatory, nationwide requirement for states to report elevated levels of lead in children 
  • Establishing mandatory testing and notification of lead in water systems 
  • Reforms to HUD authorities and a new tax credit for homeowners to remove lead 
  • A new grant program for schools to aid children with the effects of lead poisoning 
  • Accelerates development of new water technologies 

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Minority Leader Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said she will look for opportunities to advance the bill, including on the Water Resources Development Act, which the committee is looking to mark up next week.   

Click here to read Sen. Cardin's press release on the bill. 

 


House Bill Introduced to Reauthorize Clean Water SRF 

 

Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure introduced the Water Quality and Job Creation Act of 2016 (H.R. 4954)  The bill amends the Clean Water Act to provide for additional funding for water infrastructure, including the State Revolving Fund (SRF).   

Specifically, the bill: 

  • Authorizes $20 billion over five years in wastewater infrastructure through SRFs and other efforts to improve water quality. 
  • Authorizes $1.5 billion over five years for grants or State water pollution control agencies to implement State water pollution control programs. 
  • Authorizes $600 million over five years for Clean Water programs for watershed-based or system-wide efforts to address wet weather discharges, to promote stormwater best management practices, to undertake integrated water resource management, and to increase the resiliency of treatment works to natural or man-made disasters. 
  • Authorizes technical assistance to rural, small, and tribal communities to assist them in gaining access to financing wastewater infrastructure. 
  • Includes economic incentives to encourage the adoption of energy- and water-efficient technologies and practices to maximize the potential for efficient water use, reuse, and conservation, and energy conservation, and realize the potential corresponding cost-savings for water treatment. 
  • Authorizes $2.5 billion in grants over five years for grants to address combined and sanitary sewer overflows and recapture and reuse of municipal stormwater under section 221 of the Clean Water Act. Grants would be provided to the state to award to local agencies. 
  • Authorizes $75 million annually ($250 million in grants over five years) for alternative water source projects under Section 220 of the Clean Water Act, including projects that reuse wastewater and stormwater to augment the existing sources of water. 

 EPW Chair and Ranking Member Criticize Budget Cuts in Drinking Water and Clean Water SRFs 
 
On April 19, during an EPA budget proposal hearing, EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, that the agency's “activist” agenda on climate change jeopardizes its other important work.
 
“The President's budget would cut $414 million from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund which helps these very same states and local communities pay for improvements to sewer and waste water treatment systems,” Inhofe said. “As we have seen from the Gold King Mine blowout and the contaminated drinking water in Flint, EPA has at times been distracted from fulfilling its core missions due to the Obama Administration's previous single-minded focus on remaking EPA into an agency that regulates climate change and the energy sector.”
 
The White House proposed $8.27 billion for the EPA's fiscal year 2017 funding. 
 
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the committee's Ranking Member and often a supporter of EPA policies, criticized cuts in the Obama administration's proposal for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
 
“Our nation's water infrastructure needs far outstrip the funding available, and the proposed $257 million cut to the State Revolving Funds will make this funding gap grow,” Boxer said. The EPA proposal boosts the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund by roughly $157 million.  (Bloomberg BNA)
 
Click here to watch a recording of the hearing and read testimony.

 


Senate to Consider $37.5 Billion Energy and Water Bill  

 

On Thursday, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $37.5 billion Senate Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for FY 2017.  This bill funds the Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation. 
 
Originally, Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) offered an amendment that would block the Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with its Waters of the US (WOTUS) regulation, but he eventually withdrew it.  (Bloomberg BNA) 
 
Also this week, on Wednesday, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy, Water Development and Related Agencies passed their $37.4 billion version of the bill, which is scheduled to go before the full Committee next Tuesday.  For a summary, click here. 
 
The House bill includes riders that would block the Clean Water Rule and "restricts the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches," according to the summary. 
 

 WRDA Details Being Negotiated 
 
Recently, Chairman Inhofe (R-OK) spoke about his desire to move the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) legislation out of Committee before the next recess.  This week, other Members including EPW Committee Member Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) also spoke of progress being made on the bill - and the likelihood of it being passed by the full Senate before the August recess.  WRDA details are being negotiated at this time.
 
It is indeed looking like a potential vehicle to get additional aid to Flint - Drinking Water Safety and Infrastructure Act (S. 2579)- after the Flint language was removed from the Senate energy bill this week.
 
 
New WEF Study on Infrastructure Spending is the Focus of Senate Hearing 

 
WEF was invited to testify at a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing entitled "The Federal Role in Keeping Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Affordable" today in the U.S. Senate.  The goal of this hearing was to examine the federal role in water and wastewater infrastructure.  A primary purpose of the hearing was to receive the results of an analysis that WEF and the WateReuse Association conducted at the request of the Senate EPW Committee.  The analysis shows the full economic benefits to the economy, job creation and federal tax revenues from federal funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. 

 
Rudolph Chow, P.E., Director of the Department of Public Works in Baltimore, represented WEF, the City of Baltimore and the WateReuse Association.  Mr. Chow is a proponent of above-ground and underground infrastructure renewal and has spent his career in the water industry developing and implementing new and innovative programs. 

 
Mr. Chow’s testimony focused on three significant issues affecting water and wastewater infrastructure:  affordability, federal funding of infrastructure, and economic benefits of SRF spending.  He focused on the results of the economic analysis which shows the impact of SRF spending in four sample states, including taxes returned to the federal government, jobs created and other benefits to the state and national economies. 

 
Mr. Chow explained how the results of this analysis show that SRF spending generates Federal tax revenues. Specifically:  
  • Total (state and federal) annual SRF spending in these 4 states has averaged $1.46 billion. This generates $234 million of Federal tax revenues. Therefore, every million of SRF spending is estimated to generate $160,000 in Federal taxes from those states. This does not include tax revenues generated by indirect spending by firms in other states (other than CA, OH, MD and OK).   
  • When compared only to the federal portion of SRF spending, which accounts for 23% of total spending, every $1 million of federal spending generates $695,000 in Federal taxes from those states. 
However, not only does SRF spending increase Federal revenues, it generates output in the state economies, as well. Every $1 million of SRF spending results in $2.25 million in output for the states’ economies, on average.

 
Complete results of this analysis will be added to the Committee Report and available for review within the next several weeks. 

 
For more information, please contact WEF Legislative Director, Steve Dye at sdye@wef.org, or WateReuse’s Legislative Director, Ian Wolf, at iwolf@wateruse.org. 

 

 WEF Invited to Testify at EPA Hearing 

 
WEF has been invited to testify at a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing entitled "The Federal Role in Keeping Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Affordable" on Thursday April 7, 2016.  The goal of this hearing is to examine the federal role in water and wastewater infrastructure. 

 
Rudolph Chow, P.E., Director of the Department of Public Works in Baltimore, will represent WEF.  As his official biography states, Mr. Chow is a proponent of above-ground and underground infrastructure renewal and has spent his career in the water industry developing and implementing new and innovative programs. 

 
The US Conference of Mayors, AWWA, NAWC, Rural Water, and NRDC will also be represented at the hearing. 

 
The hearing will be at 10 AM EST in Dirksen 406.  You will be able to watch the hearing live. 

 

 Flint's Potential Impact on Lead and Copper Revision Rule 

 
  
According to Bloomberg BNA, on Monday, March 21, Joel Beauvais, Deputy Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Water, said the EPA will use lessons from the lead-tainted drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., in drafting its revisions to the lead and copper rule in 2017, particularly on such issues as how to determine an appropriate sampling regime.

 
Peter Grevatt, the Director of the EPA's Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, said there also will be movement on an unregulated contaminant monitoring rule, a strontium determination and actions related to algal blooms. 

 
Beauvais' comments are some of the most specific yet by an EPA official on how the crisis in Flint, where 100,000 people were exposed to high lead levels in their water, could affect national standards. Grevatt's comments offer a glimpse of the rest of the drinking water agenda in a year in which activity has been largely dominated by Flint. 

 

 Army Corps of Engineers Pushed on Water System Financing 

 
On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing entitled “The 2016 Water Resources and Development Act – Policies & Projects" about new water resources projects to improve that infrastructure and the Corps’ policies that can help the delivery of project benefits. 

 
The panel included Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary to the Army Corps of Engineers and Lieutenant General Thomas P. Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers.  Click here to read their statements. 

 
According to Committee Chairman Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), they are back on schedule to pass a Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) every two years, which “allows Congress to help meet the demands for navigation, flood control and ecosystem restoration projects around the country.” 

 
During the hearing, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Ranking Member, pushed the Corps to make progress on a new program of innovative financing for water infrastructure projects. 

 
The Corps' budget request for fiscal year 2017 includes nothing for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), legislation included as a program within the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014.  WIFIA was designed as a five-year pilot of loans and loan guarantees for Corps water resources infrastructure projects and EPA approved water and wastewater projects. 

 
The Environmental Protection Agency has been working to set up its part of the WIFIA program and included $20 million for it in its FY 2017 budget request. 

 

 New Congressional Caucus for Municipal Bonds 

 
In early March, Reps. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) formed a new congressional caucus to advocate for preserving tax-exempt municipal bonds.  The Municipal Finance Caucus will unite Members of Congress to fight to protect tax-exempt municipal bonds from efforts to alter them, such as a change requested in President Obama’s FY17 budget which would reduce the deductibility levels of tax-exempt bonds for upper income earners.  Upper income earners purchase nearly 50% of all tax-exempt municipal bonds, which accounted for over $50 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure financing in 2010. 

 
Tax-exempt municipal bonds fund more than 90% of all water and wastewater infrastructure financing in the United States, so efforts to alter the effectiveness of them have been met with strong resistance from public and private organizations.  WEF has supported these efforts and is a member of a coalition of municipal and financial organizations united to fight against changes to tax-exempt municipal bonds.  The new Municipal Finance Caucus will unify a block of Members of Congress to also oppose any changes, such as those proposed in the President’s budget or in future tax reform legislation.

 

 WEF and Other Water Sector Organizations Join in Letter to Congress 

This week WEF and nine other water and municipal associations sent a joint letter to Congress requesting $2 billion in FY17 for both the Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs. That amount matches the amount also being requested in a letter being circulated among Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The Clean Water SRF received $1.39 billion in FY16, and the President has only requested $979 million in FY17, which would be a $414 million cut. WEF has joined with the other organizations to make a strong push for increasing the funding for SRF programs. Recent Clean Water and Drinking Water Needs Surveys from the U.S. EPA estimate the combined total needed for water infrastructure investments over the next 20 years to be $655 billion. 

The letter also requests Congress to fully fund the WIFIA program at the authorized level of $35 million in FY17, which conservatively would equal approximately $2 billion in water infrastructure project investments. Additionally, the letter calls on Congress to provide $23.365 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Title XVI program, which is a grant program for water reuse projects in Western states. Finally, the letter asks for $6.5 million to support the EPA’s Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach (Integrated Planning) to help communities better manage regulatory compliance. 

 


 House Committee Approves Great Lakes Restoration Bill 

 

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Act of 2015 (H.R. 223), a bill reauthorizing $1.5 billion over five years to restore the Great Lakes was adopted March 2 on a voice vote by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.  

Sponsored by Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and backed by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio), H.R. 223 now heads to the House floor.  Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced an identical bill (S. 1024) in the Senate, which has been placed on the legislative calendar.  The initiative would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency in collaboration with the Great Lakes Restoration Task Force to prioritize and carry out projects that focus on the following areas: remediation of toxic substances and areas of concern; prevention and control of invasive species and their impacts; the protection and restoration of near-shore health and the prevention and mitigation of nonpoint source pollution; and habitat and wildlife protection and restoration. 

 


 Water Infrastructure and Innovation Funding in the FY 2017 Federal Budget Proposal 

 

On Tuesday, Feb. 9th, President Obama released his proposal for the FY 2017 federal budget. The budget proposal included changes in funding for water infrastructure and increased funding for water R&D.     

Clean Water SRF and Drinking Water SRF 

The President is requesting only $979M for the CW SRF in FY17, which was appropriated $1.35B in FY16. The DW SRF received an increased request amount of $1.02B for FY17, which was appropriated $863M for FY16. The combined total reduction in proposed SRF funding is -$257M below the FY16 appropriated amount. There is speculation that the increase in the DW SRF may be in reaction to the Flint, MI, crisis, but the budget proposal makes minimum mention of Flint.     

The President’s proposal also includes $20M for WIFIA loans, $5M of which is for administration costs.  The $15M for WIFIA would conservatively equal at least $375M in new infrastructure funding (assuming a very conservative 25:1 leveraging ratio for the $15M), but the EPA has much higher expectations for the program and estimates “potential loan capacity of nearly $1 billion to eligible entities for infrastructure projects with the initial loans taking place in FY 2017.” 

Program 

FY16 Request 

FY16 Enacted 

FY17 Request 

Delta from FY16 Enacted to FY17 Request 

 % Change 

Clean Water SRF 

$1.116B 

$1.35B 

$979M 

($414M) 

-29.73% 

Drinking Water SRF 

$1.186 

$863M  

$1.02B 

$157M 

18.22% 

WIFIA 

 

 

$20M 

 

100% 

Total Combined 

$2.302B 

$2.213B 

$2.019B 

($257.12M) 

-8.64% 


Water R&D and Innovation Funding 

The President’s budget proposal also announces approximately $300 in new funding to support the Administration’s water innovation strategy.  The strategy focuses on water sustainability and reducing the price and energy costs of new water supply technology to address resiliency, climate change and population growth.   

Specifically, the budget proposal will direct:  

$98.6 million for the federal WaterSMART program, which promotes water conservation initiatives and technologies. 

$4 million of new funding for the US Geological Service to provide near real-time assessment of water use during drought 

$28.6 million to support R&D at the Bureau of Reclamation. These funds include $8.5 million for the water technology solutions challenge program, a technology challenge prize focused on next-generation water-treatment technologies; $5.8 million for desalination and water purification, and $2 million to continue the Open Water Data, which aims to centralize national water data collected by various agencies and make it more accessible. 

$25 million in new funding for the Department of Energy to launch a new Energy-Water Desalination Hub  

The DOE would also invest nearly $20 million in complementary R&D on desalination technologies relevant to fossil, concentrated solar power, and geothermal applications. 

$15 million in additional funding for US Department of Agriculture research to support agricultural production and practices that conserve water 

$88 million for the National Science Foundation for water research, focusing on technologies that increase the US water supply, drinking water quality, and water for use in agriculture and industry processes or cooling. 

Other Programs and Priorities 

Green Infrastructure & Stormwater: The budget proposal does not specifically identify significant new funding for GI and SW, but it does highlight the EPA’s intentions to support more GI and better SW management to address CWA goals. The budget proposal reemphasizes the authority to set aside “20 percent of the Clean Water SRF capitalization grants, subject to project availability, to green infrastructure and innovative projects including those to manage stormwater, which helps communities improve water quality while creating green space, mitigating flooding, and enhancing air quality.”   

USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program: The program will receive an increase of $1,881,000 to a total of $63,881,000.  The budget proposal directs the increased funding to go towards long-term groundwater and surface water quality monitoring networks.     

Next Steps 

WEF was aware in advance of these changes to the funding levels of the SRF programs and have already begun efforts in Congress to ensure full funding for both SRF programs in the final budget.  WEF is working closely with a coalition of water and municipal associations to have a coordinated message and action plan, as well as reaching out to WEF membership to build grassroots advocacy before Congress in opposition to cuts to the CW SRF. 

 


Final FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Restores Funding  

 

In mid-December, the U.S. Congress reached a final agreement for the fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget for the federal government, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016. The bill provides $1.067 trillion in base funding, which includes $73.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, $7.1 billion in disaster aid, $1.5 billion for program integrity, and $700 million in emergency funding. Read the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 at https://rules.house.gov/bill/114/hr-2029-sa.    

Funding to all federal agencies is included in the bill, and it retains or increases the funding amounts for the agencies from FY 2015. The bill holds the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) at the FY 2015 enacted level of $8.139 billion. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is funded at $1.394 billion and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is funded at $863 million, restoring severe cuts proposed in 2015 in the draft House and Senate committee bills. The bill did not include funding for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans and loan guarantees, but it did include language directing EPA to continue to use administrative monies to establish the program.  The bill was free of many of the policy riders that had been hotly debated in Congress, including any restrictions on EPA in proceeding with the implementation of the Clean Water Rule and the Clean Power Rule.   

In 2016, WEF will be advocating before Congress and the Administration for full funding for the SRF programs, as well as funding for the WIFIA program to provide low interest loans for infrastructure projects. 

 


 Rider That Banned CSO and Wet Weather Bypassing Excluded  

 

Also, in the FY16 Omnibus bill, a major effort to strip an unfunded mandate was successful. The Senate version of the appropriations bill that funds EPA included a rider that would have forbidden wet weather bypassing and combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the Great Lakes watershed. The compromise language in the final bill will require some additional reporting for CSO events only, but it makes no changes to the Clean Water Act requirements or additional fines.  

The Senate's FY16 appropriations bill contained a policy rider (Sec. 428 of S. 1645) requiring all combined sewer overflows (CSO) in the Great Lakes watershed to be eliminated, including overflows discharged in compliance with a CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) or consent decrees. The rider would have also required water resource recovery facilities (WRRFs) to eliminate discharges of blended effluent that otherwise meet standards established in a WRRF's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit during peak wet weather events.   

A recently completed survey of Great Lakes WRRFs estimated the cost-of-compliance to the policy rider exceeded $72 billion in the region. A coalition of cities, counties, and associations is aggressively lobbying Congress in opposition to this policy rider because it has the potential to be extremely costly, requiring massive infrastructure expansion, ratepayer increases, and reopening of consent decrees and/or LTCPs. More than 45 letters were sent to Congress from public agencies and organizations opposed to the policy rider, including WEF; the Water Environment Associations of Indiana, Michigan, New England, New York, and Ohio; and WEF members at agencies throughout the Great Lakes region.  

 


 WIFIA Fix and Better Highway Stormwater Management   

 

The highway reauthorization bill, known as the Fixing American Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) that was enacted into law in December, included a fix to the WIFIA program that WEF helped create and a stormwater management provision that WEF helped draft.  

The fix removed a restriction on the use of tax-exempt financing on WIFIA-financed projects. WEF and other water associations have been advocating for the provision since the program was enacted in 2014. The WIFIA program required that WIFIA can finance only up to 49% of a total project cost, and the remaining 51% could not come from a tax-exempt source, such as tax-exempt municipal bonds or private activity bonds. This was limited by Congress in 2014 to keep the cost of creating WIFIA budgets neutral, with the intent of fixing it later. The restriction on tax-exempt financing was removed by the provision in the FAST Act that WEF and other water associations strongly advocated.   

Also included in the FAST Act was a stormwater management provision that WEF helped draft that directs metropolitan, nonmetropolitan, and statewide transportation planning agencies to “improve the resiliency and reliability of the transportation system and reduce or mitigate stormwater impacts of surface transportation,” among the list of items to be included when agencies are planning surface transportation projects that use federal funding.  

Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who was a member of the conference committee negotiating the final bill, included the provision. Language similar to the provision was originally developed by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) with WEF staff assistance and was introduced as the Highway Stormwater Management Act as stand-alone legislation in 2014 and 2015 (S. 518). On behalf of WEF, Dr. Dan Medina of Atkins Global (Epsom, U.K.) and Jim Gibson of Sanitation District #1 in Fort Wright, Ky., participated in a hearing in May 2014 before the Senate Water & Wildlife Subcommittee chaired by Sen. Cardin. During the hearing, the WEF members testified on the importance of better stormwater runoff management during the surface transportation planning process. Sen. Cardin introduced his legislation shortly after the hearing.  

The provision that Rep. Edwards included in the bill is a significant step toward better stormwater management included early in the planning process of surface transportation bills. Currently, planning agencies that use federal dollars for projects are given eight criteria to consider during the planning process, such as increased safety, economic growth, and intermodal connectivity. The Edwards provision amends U.S. Code 23, Section 134(h)(1) and 135(D)(1), and will urge planning agencies to “reduce and mitigate stormwater impacts of surface transportation.” Planning agencies are not required to include these criteria in projects, but projects that meet more criteria will score higher.   

In 2016, WEF will be working closely with EPA to help complete the formation of the WIFIA program and establish another federally backed source of low-interest financing. WEF will also be working with the Federal Highway Administration to incorporate the stormwater management provisions into the project planning process so that stormwater management costs are built into the federally funded highway projects and are not left to local agencies to address after a project is completed.  

 


 Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF Reauthorization Legislation Introduced in the Senate 

 

In mid-February, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced new legislation (S. 2532) to reauthorize and increase the funding levels for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRFs). Together, these funds serve as the primary source of federal funding for all states to maintain, repair and replace their aging water infrastructure systems.  

Cardin’s bill starts by immediately returning the SRFs to 2009 funding levels that included boosts from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act – more than tripling the authorizations for both SRFs that have seen cuts in recent years. With an update to FY16 authorizations, this new legislation would provide immediate authorization for additional resources that would assist communities nationwide with infrastructure funding challenges.

 


 Obama Vetoes Congressional Resolution to Block Water Rule 

 

In January 2016, President Obama vetoed legislation that would have nullified the administration's rule defining the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act.

The rule, written jointly by the Environmental Protection agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, would have been negated by a joint resolution of Congress passed under authority of the Congressional Review Act. The resolution (S.J. Res. 22) was passed by the Senate in November and the House last week. 

The Senate attempted, but failed, to override this veto. The veto was fully anticipated and is expected to stand, given that neither house of Congress in approving the resolution mustered the two-thirds majority needed for a veto override.

In his veto message, Obama said, “The rule, which is a product of extensive public involvement and years of work, is critical to our efforts to protect the nation's waters and keep them clean; is responsive to calls for rulemaking from the Congress, industry, and community stakeholders; and is consistent with decisions of the United States Supreme Court.”

He added, “Because this resolution seeks to block the progress represented by this rule and deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty and clarity needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water, I cannot support it.”

The Clean Water Rule, also widely referred to as the “waters of the U.S.” rule, or WOTUS, is the subject of litigation in many courts, leaving its fate in limbo. It has been put on hold by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit pending a decision on what court jurisdictions are appropriate for lawsuits against the rule and will remain a focus of litigation in federal courts.

 


 WEF, Others Urge Funding for WIFIA, SRF, and No Changes to Tax-Exempt Municipal Bonds

In early November 2014, WEF and other leading water organizations sent letters to Congress, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Shaun Donovan and the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, requesting that Congress and the Administration provide full funding to the newly authorized Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and include it in EPA’s FY15 and FY16 budgets. Along with American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), WEF also requested that the funding level for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving funds (SRFS) be maintained and no changes be made to the tax benefits of tax-exempt municipal bonds. WIFIA FY15 Funding Letter to Senate and FY16 Funding Letter to OMB.
 

 

 


WEF, AWWA and AMWA Raise Concerns on Possible Buy American Provisions for State SRFs 

 

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies is considering adding Buy American provisions for state revolving funds (SRF) to the FY2013 EPA appropriations.  These provisions would be similar to those included in the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA), or Stimulus Bill, in 2009.  

Given potential impacts on State Clean Water and Drinking Water SRFs, the American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) and WEF sent a June 19 joint letter to the House Subcommittee urging careful consideration of the ramifications on local utilities including delays in initiating much-needed water infrastructure projects and related impacts on job creation.  WEF, AWWA and AMWA recommended an independent review before Congress proceeds with such provisions.  The group also suggested that a more reasonable approach to promoting American manufacturing may be through incentives, such as loan discounts, for utilities that utilize U.S. manufactured goods.

 


 WEF, Other Water Leaders Urge Passage of New Water Infrastructure Financing Legislation  (February 28, 2012) 

 

WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger joined with other industry leaders February 28 on Capitol Hill to urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives to pass new legislation that would fund water infrastructure needs. Eger’s testimony, presented to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, highlighted the financial challenges facing water facilities around the country and the importance of providing support for these essential services. During the first of a two-part hearing titled, Review of Innovative Financing Approaches for Community Water Infrastructure Projects, Eger and other water industry leaders helped educate the Subcommittee about the critical need for water infrastructure funding and potential financing tools to help local communities pay for the rising costs of providing clean and safe water. 

Specifically, WEF and the American Water Works Association voiced support for draft legislation to create the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA), a funding mechanism modeled after the highly successful Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. WIFIA would assist local governments with water infrastructure needs and leverage available federal dollars through low-interest funding that complements the already established State Revolving Fund. The second of the two-part hearing is expected sometime in March. 

 


 WEF Commends Introduction of Water Quality Protection & Job Creation Act (Updated October 12, 2011) 

 

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has submitted a letter of support to Congressmen Nick Rahall (D-WV), Ranking Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Tim Bishop (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Water Resources & the Environment, for the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2011, H.R. 3145—a new bill that was introduced yesterday on Capitol Hill.

The new legislation proposes a Federal investment of $13.8 billion in wastewater infrastructure over five years through the renewal of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). This much needed funding would also help create thousands of new domestic jobs in the engineering, construction and clean water sectors while providing financial assistance for communities to address wet weather overflows and create incentives for innovation including green infrastructure, energy efficiency and watershed approaches.

Click here to read the official press release from the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. 




WEF Testimony

WEF provides testimony for Congressional hearings on various clean water legislative issues though the direct involvement of the water professionals that make up the WEF membership.

WEF Vice-President Jeanette Brown provides Congressional testimony on Energy Efficiency and Energy Independence for Sustainable Wastewater Treatment (Updated April, 2009)

Review her blog on the issue and read the press release.
 

Congressional Visits

2012 WEF/AWWA Water Matters Fly-In (March 7-8, 2012)

Water leaders from WEF and AWWA gathered in Arlington, Virginia, on March 7 at the AWWA/WEF Water Matters! Fly In event to show their support for draft legislation that would create a federal Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority (WIFIA). Following a morning briefing on WIFIA and the comments from Rep. Gibbs, utility representatives visited Capitol Hill for more than 400 meetings with their national legislators and staff. The draft legislation would lower the cost of large water projects for consumers at a time when infrastructure is aging and in need of replacement.  “The time for new thinking is now,” said AWWA President Jerry Stevens, who is also general manager for West Des Moines (Iowa) Water Works. “The WIFIA proposal strikes just the right balance between federal assistance and local responsibility.” “If we are going to continue to provide essential services and make progress in water quality, we need to re-imagine the way we provide local water services,” said WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. “We need to encourage innovation—innovative technologies, innovative management approaches, and innovative financing.”

Congressional Briefings

From time to time WEF co-sponsors briefings with the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Quality Assessment Program for congressional staff and other interested organizations on clean water topics. Below is information about recent and upcoming Congressional Briefings.

WEF Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Green Infrastructure

October 25, 2011
Capitol Visitors Center, Room SVC 215

WEF and American Rivers (AR), in association with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), co-sponsored a congressional briefing, “Reducing Costs and Spurring Job Growth: Using Green Infrastructure Practices to Protect and Restore Clean Water for Communities” on October 25 at the U.S Capitol Visitor Center. The briefing highlighted the multiple economic benefits of green infrastructure practices as an integral component of stormwater management to protect clean water, and was indeed a great success. Attendees included congressional staffers, water sector professionals, and environmental policy specialists. 

The event was moderated by WEF Executive Director Jeff Eger. Speakers included Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, Manager of Watershed Programs, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and Chair, NACWA Stormwater Management Committee; Theodore E. Scott, Executive Vice President and Founder, Stormwater Maintenance, LLC., and Tricia Martin, Principal, WE Design, NY Chapter President, American Society of Landscape Architects. The briefing provided information on the problem of stormwater and its management using the traditional approach, the growing paradigm shift towards green infrastructure (from the small business perspective) and its economic benefits, in addition to showcasing some successful case studies. Presentation Slides  PDF Slides     

 

WEF Hosts Congressional Briefing on Updated USGS Nutrient Tool

October 28, 2011
Room 2167 Rayburn House Office Building
 

WEF, along with the Notheast Midwest Institute, hosted a briefing this week on Capitol Hill to inform Congressional staffers and other interested parties on an updated web-based decision support system developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program.  The event, which took place on Friday, October 28, was moderated by WEF Government Affairs Vice-Chair, Alan Vicory, who is the executive director for the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission. 

Sparrow Video Link 

The USGS presented updates of the SPAtially Referenced Regressions On Watershed attributes (SPARROW) watershed modeling tool with other presentations from by state officials from Minnesota and Tennessee on how their respective state programs utilize this tool.  The USGS described the ability of the SPARROW platform to provide online snapshots in time of nutrient loads, yields and sources for areas covered by the tool, which includes all areas of the contiguous 48-state with the exception of California and portions of the Southwest region. A real-time demonstration was also provided by USGS to illustrate the modeling and forecasting ability of the tool.  The online tool can be accessed at this link

Upcoming Briefings:

There are currently no upcoming briefings at this point in time. Please check back later.

Congressional Briefings Archive 

Legislative News Updates

House Holds Hydraulic Fracturing Hearing (Updated Nov 18, 2011)

The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, chaired by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), held a hearing on November 16 to consider potential new regulations by EPA on the hydraulic fracturing of shale beds to produce natural gas.  Read more >> 

Congressional Supercommittee Struggles to Meet November 23 deadline; Continuing Resolution Passed (Updated Nov 18, 2011) 

The congressional bipartisan supercommittee continues to struggle with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by a deadline. Read more >> 

House T&I Committee Debating Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011 (Updated Nov 11, 2011)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will resume debate next week on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011 (H.R. 2838), a bill that would require both EPA and Coast Guard to establish a national technology-based standard to treat ballast water discharges from commercial ships that preempts individual state standards. Read more >> 

Senate Committee Adopts Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2011 (Updated Nov 4, 2011)

On November 2, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee approved the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2011 (S. 1701). Read more >> 

WEF Co-Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Green Infrastructure (Updated Oct 28, 2011)  

WEF and American Rivers (AR), in association with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), co-sponsored a congressional briefing, “Reducing Costs and Spurring Job Growth: Using Green Infrastructure Practices to Protect and Restore Clean Water for Communities” on October 25 at the U.S Capitol Visitor Center. Read more >> 

WEF Hosts Congressional Briefing on Updated USGS Nutrient Tool  (Updated Oct 28, 2011)  

WEF, along with the Notheast Midwest Institute, hosted a briefing this week on Capitol Hill to inform Congressional staffers and other interested parties on an updated web-based decision support system developed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program. Read more >> 

Congressional Deficit Reduction Supercommittee Urged to Support Increased Water Funding (Updated Oct 14, 2011)

A number of letters submitted from House Democrats are urging the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to increase EPA funding for drinking water and wastewater state revolving funds (SRFs).  Read more >> 

House Committee Introduces Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2011 (Updated Oct 14, 2011)

(H.R. 2840), the Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2011, was approved by voice vote on October 13 by the House by Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), amends the Clean Water Act to set a single nationwide performance standard, which conforms to the standard set by the International Maritime Organization, for the treatment of vessel ballast water.  Read more >> 

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Nutrient Reduction Approaches (Updated Oct 7, 2011)

A hearing was convened by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife on October 4 - Nutrient Pollution: An Overview of Nutrient Reduction Approaches - to document nutrient pollution as a national threat and discuss the causes and impacts of nutrient pollution, in addition to the various mitigation approaches.  Read more >> 

Legislative Archives

Please click on the below link to read more Legislative News. 

More Legislative Archives >> 

For more information, contact: Claudio Ternieden, Director, Government Affairs, 703-684-2400 or cternieden@wef.org.