WEF Needs YOU to be a Water Advocate!
WE are the experts.
Let’s speak with a loud, united voice. Speak up. Share your knowledge. It is more important now than ever. Inform government decision-makers and the public about the importance of water.
Aging infrastructure, strict requirements, and continued economic pressures have put unprecedented stress on local governments and agencies that provide essential water services. Elected officials are being called upon to make tough choices that will impact water quality and the viability of our communities for generations to come.
We know there is a better path—a path that leads to public appreciation for the value of water, investment in our essential water infrastructure, and a better quality of life for our states and communities.
WEF’s Water Advocates Program is a simple and effective way for you to become more involved with engaging elected officials and the public on important water issues. The Water Advocates Program provides training and engagement to promote grassroots advocacy before elected officials and the public with the goal of creating a network of trained water advocates in every state.
Email Amy Kathman to join the Water Advocates program: firstname.lastname@example.org
Include your name, title, organization, address, e-mail, and telephone number. After you sign up, you will be in the Water Advocates program and receive important announcements about actions you can take to help.
Water needs YOUR voice. Sign up to be a Water Advocate.
- Log on to the WEFCOM community titled "Water Advocates" and join the community.
Fix PFAS Provision in the NDAA -- Ask Your Members of Congress to Reach Out to the Armed Services Conference Committee Today!
UPDATE - 11/13/19:
On November 13, the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) said that lawmakers in both Chambers of Congress and on both sides of the aisle negotiating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) had largely resolved their differences over which PFAS provisions would remain in the final bill. However he did not provide specifics other than to say that the provision regarding whether or not to add these chemicals to the EPA’s hazardous substances list had still not been fully resolved.
PREVIOUS UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who contacted Congress in opposition to the Dingell PFAS amendment and the Pappas PFAS amendment. Unfortunately, both amendments were accepted by voice vote and are now part of the House National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2500). However, neither one is a part of the Senate version (S. 1790) and we are now asking our members to reach out your Members in both the House and Senate and request that the Armed Services Conference Committee to not include either the Dingell or Pappas amendment language in the final version of the bill. WEF staff is currently working closely with Congress and other water associations to either remove the amendments or make changes to the final bill to protect wastewater and drinking water utilities. But it’s critical that Members of Congress hear from their constituents that the Dingell and Pappas amendments will unfairly burden utilities and changes must be made!
In recent months the issue of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water has become an area of interest on Capitol Hill and many states. PFAS are a class of roughly 5,000 man-made chemicals of which only a handful have been studied. PFAS chemicals are used in a wide array of consumer products such as non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, and water-repellent clothes. These chemicals may not breakdown in the natural environment and can be inhaled, consumed, or absorbed by humans. Some PFAS chemicals are toxic at levels of a few drops in an Olympic size swimming pool.
The Senate incorporated a number of PFAS requirements in S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It would mandate that EPA issue national regulations for two PFAS compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) within two years of enactment. It has a number of other mandates related to drinking and wastewater water as well, but avoided including PFAS regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) or CERCLA law, a.k.a. Superfund which are now a part of the House bill.
Specifically, the amendment by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) would mandate additional PFAS regulation for water under CERCLA. This has the potential to be very problematic for wastewater utilities. Biosolid management in particular could be made subject to the Superfund law, which could place PFAS remediation costs on utilities and ratepayers. PFAS industrial producers and industrial users should be responsible for remediating it in our environment, but CERCLA’s strict and retroactive liability requirements could place the burden on PFAS “receivers”, such as wastewater and drinking water agencies.
Additionally, amendment by Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) would mandate the EPA to develop effluent standards and pretreatment standards for PFAS under the Clean Water Act by Jan. 1, 2022. With limited research into the health effects of the 5,000 PFAS compounds and no established analytical methods and treatment methods for wastewater effluent, this amendment is bad policy.
Furthermore, congressional committee staff have determined under the Rep. Pappas amendment the CERCLA law would also be triggered because PFAS would be designated a hazardous substance under the CWA.
WEF is requesting that members contact their Members of Congress to request that the Rep. Dingell amendment and Rep. Pappas amendment #48 be excluded from the final version of the NDAA legislation. Please send this draft letter to your Members of Congress today.
REACH OUT TO YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS ABOUT PFAS AMENDMENTS RIGHT AWAY!
Support H.R. 1764 to Extend NPDES Permit Terms
Please encourage your House Member to support H.R. 1764, introduced by Representative John Garamendi.
H.R. 1764 would authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or a delegated state under the Clean Water Act to issue a municipal clean water agency a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from five to 10 years. This change would support enhanced planning and efficient permitting of local water quality programs, and give utilities the time needed to design, plan and construct necessary treatment facilities and to comply with existing regulatory requirements before imposition of new mandates.
When the Clean Water Act was adopted in 1972, Congress authorized USEPA, or a delegated state, to grant waste discharge permits for a period of no more than five years. At the time, this timeframe for renewal was tailored for the demands of that period and to ensure significant progress toward basic water quality improvements. However, much has changed over the past 45 years.
Click on the link below to learn more about this issue and to reach out to your House Member today!
Support Water Infrastructure
Investing in the country’s water infrastructure is critical. Water infrastructure impacts all Americans, as it protects public health and the environment and drives the economy. In fact, closing the investment gap in water infrastructure would generate more than $220 billion in annual economic activity and generate 1.3 million jobs over 10 years.
In a recent survey of American’s opinions on the value of investing in our water resources, 78% of respondents said it’s “extremely or very important” that the President and Congress develop a plan to rebuild America’s water infrastructure. The same survey found that 88% of respondents agreed that increased federal investment was needed to rebuild water infrastructure.
As Congress develops a comprehensive infrastructure proposal, we urge you to remind your Members that water infrastructure is often co-located with transportation infrastructure, such as roadways and bridges. When roadways are dug up or bridges rebuilt, it would be less expensive to rehabilitate water lines at that point in time instead of digging them up again.
In addition, the cost of water service to low-income customers is an increasing concern and the U.S. federal contributions to water infrastructure finance help local utilities cushion the costs of water service to customers.
In the 116th Congress, as water infrastructure packages are introduced, vetted, and debated and hopefully a final, bipartisan plan is turned into law, it is critical to include federal investment in water infrastructure. Support for increased funding for water infrastructure is essential to safeguard public health, protect the environment, promote economic growth, and ensure community resiliency.
Support Funding for Water Infrastructure in FY 2020
Write your Members to urge them to provide robust funding for water infrastructure funding programs in the fiscal year 2020 budget!
The Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds programs (SRF) are important financing tools for wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater agencies to build and modernize the water infrastructure that protects public health, the environment, and promotes economic growth. The water crisis in Flint, Michigan, further highlights how important it is for there to be robust funding to help communities address the challenges of aging water infrastructure.
The Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs should be funded at levels that reflect the reality of our nation’s water infrastructure crisis. The EPA has estimated that $655 billion is needed for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years – and that doesn’t include another estimated $100 billion needed for stormwater infrastructure. For FY20 WEF and a coalition of other national water associations are requesting that the appropriation amounts for SRF programs be doubled.
Also, urge your Members to fully fund the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program in FY20 Congress created this new loan and loan guarantee program in 2014, and in 2015 corrected statutory language to the program to make it more useful to communities seeking low interest financing.
Finally, please ask your Members to increase funding for the USDA's rural water/wastewater loan and grant program and increase funding for the Bureau of Reclamation's water recycling program to $60 million. In addition, we need at least level funding for the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, as well as other important programs.
Click on the button below and write your Members of Congress today!
Support FY2020 Funding for National Priorities Water Research
The water sector in the United States is vital for supporting healthy families and thriving communities. Today, the water sector is facing unprecedented challenges, including extreme drought, catastrophic flooding, failing infrastructure, emerging contaminants, and dramatic changes in population. Water research will play a critical role in developing cost-effective solutions to these challenges to ensure thriving, resilient communities, create jobs, and support healthy families.
As you know, the need is great. While a recent survey estimated approximately $300 million in unfunded water research projects, this represents only a small fraction of the entire water sector’s research, development, and demonstration needs. In the past two years, Congress has appropriated between $600 − $700 million for EPA research, but less than 15% of EPA’s Science and Technology Account funding is dedicated to water-related research. Less than 1% of these funds supports applied research for water utilities.
In 2019 Congress took an important step forward by appropriating $5 million to support the EPA’s National Priorities Water Research program. This is the only source of federal funds that supports collaborative, extramural, cost-shared partnerships with non-profit, water-sector research institutions that address the water sector’s research needs. In addition, Congress authorized a $10 million federal investment in the development, deployment, and demonstration of water technologies through the Innovative Water Technologies grant program through the America’s Water Infrastructure Act.
This year we are urging Congress to provide additional funding to support these two programs in FY2020.
Specifically we are asking Congress: • To increase funding for the National Priorities Water Research grant program to $20 million to reflect urgent research needs of the water sector. • To fully fund the Innovative Water Technologies grant program at $10 million, as authorized, for fiscal year 2020.
Robust funding for these competitive grant programs will support transformative research approaches and technology deployment that will enable the water sector to respond to current and future challenges and protect American families.
Continued support in Congress of the National Priorities Water Research Grant program has provided direct benefit to water sector utilities through increased knowledge, tools, and models that can improve public health outcomes and lower costs for municipalities. The Innovative Water Technology grant program will add to this by helping the sector to develop, deploy, and demonstrate those transformative technologies to inform smart water infrastructure investment as utilities strive to provide safe and reliable water, wastewater, and stormwater systems. Extramural research focuses on the most pressing national needs for a sector that is going through marked transformation.
Congress does not need to do this alone. Our sector is taking the lead by directly funding research and development through its non-profit research foundation, supporting new technology acceleration platforms such as the Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT) and Utility of the Future, and by pursuing new funding mechanisms like green bonds or public-private partnerships. Notwithstanding these efforts, significant needs continue to go unmet.
Please write and ask your Members of Congress to continue to support and grow the National Priorities Water Research grant program and to fully fund the Innovative Water Technologies grant program.