CONFLUENCE NEWS | MARCH 2020
The Latest News
COVID-19: TWCA has sent multiple updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be sending more frequent updates to ensure important information is getting to you in a timely way. See what we have sent out related to COVID-19 here .
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: On the legislative front, most committee meetings have been canceled and the State Capitol is closed to the public. The Senate still has a few meetings on the calendar, including a joint meeting of the Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs and Natural Resources committees scheduled for April 30, but we anticipate the meeting will likely be postponed. 

On the TWCA front, we are beginning to gear up our committee process. This week we sent a survey to members of the groundwater committee to collect a list of issues for the committee to consider. Survey responses are due Friday, April 10 . After this deadline, TWCA staff will work with the committee chairs to digest the information and set up next steps. We anticipate holding our first groundwater committee meeting in early summer, potentially by video conference. 
NTMWD PUC RATE CASE:  In December 2016, four of NTMWD’s member cities filed a petition with the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC), alleging that NTMWD’s 2017 wholesale water rates were unreasonably preferential, prejudicial, and discriminatory. On February 27, 2020, PUC found NTMWD’s contracted wholesale water rates adverse to the public interest, but has yet to outline the basis for its decision.  

This case is significant because the state has never found a wholesale water rate adverse to the public interest since a 1994 major retooling of the process in response to a court decision in Texas Water Commission v. City of Fort Worth.
WOTUS: EPA MOVES TO FINALIZE THE RULE: The “Waters of the United States” definition has been the subject of more press and controversy than just about any regulatory action over the last five years. There have been mileposts, lawsuits, stays of the 2015 rule in some states (but not others), public information campaigns, and lots of hand-wringing across the regulated community. The first months of 2020 have brought yet another milepost, as the EPA has unveiled the proposed final rule, this time to be called, the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule.” The rule will become final as of 60 days following its publication in the Federal Register (as of March 25, 2020 the rule’s publication is still pending).  
CYBERSECURITY TRAINING: As a reminder, HB 3834 requires all state and local government employees and elected officials to complete a certified cybersecurity training program once per year.  The Department of Information Resources (DIR) maintains a list of certified training programs for state and local government to choose from. The list includes resources that can be obtained for free as well as programs from third-party vendors. The FAQs at the bottom of the page give instructions on how to certify compliance to DIR. Since many TWCA members have significantly ramped up teleworking options for staff, this training could be a great reminder of the increased risk of cyberattacks. 
Emergency Waivers & Exceptions
EMERGENCY WAIVER OF CDL LICENSE EXPIRATIONS:  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has waived certain requirements for expiration and renewal of commercial driver licenses (CDLs), allowing drivers with recently expired licenses to continue driving through June 30, 2020. For more details on the waiver, visit FMCSA’s website
PUC EMERGENCY EXCEPTIONS TO RETAIL WATER & SEWER RULES: PUC has issued certain emergency exceptions to the following retail water and sewer rules, to be in place until the Governor’s disaster declaration is terminated: 

  • 16 TAC § 24.165(c), relating to assessment of late fees on customers for delinquent bills.  
  • 16 TAC §24.165(d), authorizing a water utility to charge interest on a deferred payment plan. 
  • 16 TAC § 24.165(i), relating to requirements for estimated bills.  
  • 16 TAC § 24.167(a)(2)(A), allowing a retail public utility to disconnect water or sewer service for nonpayment.  
  • 16 TAC §24.167(a)(2)(F), authorizing a utility to disconnect water service for non-payment of a solid waste charge. 
  • 16 TAC § 24.167(e), requiring a retail public utility to disconnect water service for nonpayment of sewer charges. 

Please see this link for details in the full order. 
Board & Membership News
Annual Convention Recap
Thank you to everyone who attended the 2020 Annual Convention on March 4-6 in Fort Worth. You can find presentations here and photos here .

Board elections took place with some turnover. Thank you Doug Caroom, John Seifert, and David Harkins for your service. We'd also like to welcome Emily Rogers, James Beach, and Tony Smith to the board.
New Membership & Services Chairs
A Message From Chair Connie Curtis
For those that don’t know me, I am Connie Curtis with Kimley-Horn. I am honored and excited to have been asked to serve as the Chair of the TWCA Membership and Services Committee. First and foremost, I’d like to extend a big thank you to Ty Embrey for his leadership of the committee over the last few years. I hope to make you proud, Ty! As any good outgoing committee chair does, Ty implemented a slight change on his way out. After serving as the solitary chair for two years, Ty and TWCA leadership thought it would be wise to create a new Vice Chair position for the committee to help provide more dedicated resources leading up to and during conferences. Please join me in welcoming Lance McLeod with Kimley-Horn as the very first Vice Chair of the TWCA Membership and Services Committee!

As we look toward the future of our committee, Lance and I would like to highlight a few of our goals. We are here to support TWCA members. We plan to work with TWCA leadership to continue to expand the integration of new members and assist the panels and board in new ways to improve communication. We plan to foster intentional engagement of our committee membership between conferences to plan and execute ideas that have been considered during our committee meetings, but never implemented. Our committee has active members with diverse skill sets that we hope to leverage to continue to provide increased value to the TWCA membership.

We know we can be of service, and Lance and I very much look forward to serving the membership of TWCA in the years to come.
Event & General Updates

TWCA Mid-Year Conference - CANCELED/POSTPONED . Click here for more information .

Membership Dues: Don't forget to renew so you can utilize all of your TWCA benefits. Renew here.

Standing Committees: Sign up!
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