Did You Catch the CASA Annual Conference Survey?
Earlier this week CASA distributed a member survey to determine our members’ level of comfort in attending an in-person Annual Conference in 2021, currently scheduled for August 11-13 in San Diego. In order to better inform our decision about whether to host our first live event in more than a year, we would first like to get our members’ perspectives on the conference, and specifically your comfort level and availability to attend an in-person event. If you can, please fill out the brief survey. Your valuable feedback will help us to determine best steps moving forward!
CASA Education Foundation Scholarship Applications
The CASA Education Foundation helps ensure clean water for Californians and energize the future of the clean water sector by awarding scholarships to promising students on a path to serving the environmental community. Does your local college or university know about CASA’s financial aid to students interested in a career in water? The Foundation is accepting scholarship applications through May 16, 2021. For information on how to apply, who is eligible and the scholarship guidelines, visit the website.
Call for Award of Excellence Nominations!
CASA seeks to recognize members who provide essential public services and go above and beyond to protect public health and the environment. Member agencies and associates are invited to submit an Award of Excellence application by April 30, 2021. Categories include Excellence in Innovation & Resiliency, Public Outreach/Education, Organizational Excellence, and Outstanding Capital Project. More information about the award criteria and categories is available on the website.
CWEA-CASA Partnering for Impact in California
Join CASA and CWEA on May 5, 2021 at 9:30am for a workshop entitled “Partnering for Impact in California.” This one-day workshop co-hosted by CASA and CWEA will bring together thought leaders, decision makers, project managers, and plant operators to create an open discussion around innovation in the wastewater sector in California. The audience will engage in facilitated breakout discussions around each topic introduced by our speakers in a short “TED-style” format. Following the breakout discussions, all attendees will participate in a moderated discussion with the presenters. Space is limited so be sure to register today!
Federal Update
Lawmakers Introduce PFAS Legislation
A group of House lawmakers, led by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI), have introduced the PFAS Action Act of 2021 (H.R. XXXX). The bill, which is a reintroduction of a bill (H.R. 535) Dingell sponsored last year, aims to address the public health and environmental risks posed by PFAS contamination, including addressing, monitoring, and treating for PFAS contamination in water supplies. Like last year’s version of the bill, the legislation again includes the directive for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, also known as Superfund law, within one year after enactment of the bill and within five years determine whether to designate all PFAS substances as hazardous under CERCLA. To address contamination in water supplies the bill also includes:
Biden Unveils Expansive Infrastructure Plan
At the end of last month, President Biden unveiled his infrastructure investment plan, The American Jobs Plan, that proposes $2 trillion to revamp and modernize the nation’s infrastructure and address climate change and environmental justice concerns. The plan delivers on an early policy directive from the Administration to provide 40% of overall federal assistance to projects that benefit the climate and support clean investments to disadvantaged communities (DACs). The plan recognizes that the nation’s water infrastructure systems have surpassed planned operational lifecycles and provides a variety of investment measures to upgrade and modernize water systems. Specifically, it calls for $56 billion in grants and low-cost loans to States, Tribes, territories, $10 billion to monitor and remediate PFAS contamination in drinking water and investing in small rural water systems.
Congressional Democrats have stated the desire to pass this massive infrastructure investment package by this summer and will use Biden’s plan as a guide. Reaction to the American Jobs Plan has received a mixed reception on Capitol Hill, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposing the plan, saying it goes beyond the traditional understanding of “infrastructure.”
Comprehensive Recycling Package Introduced in Congress, Including Wipes Labeling Requirements
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) introduced the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act (BFFPPA) (H.R. 2238). This comprehensive package addresses reducing plastic pollution and the environmental and public health threats, as well as preventing future plastic pollution. While the focus of the bill is on traditional recycling, there are three provisions addressing plastic pollution in the clean water sector.
Specifically, an expanded section on establishing a “Do Not Flush” labeling requirement for non-flushable single-use wet wipes. The labeling section complements legislation CASA has worked to advance at the State level and would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to establish regulations to require covered manufacturers, as defined by the bill, to print clear and visible “Do Not Flush” labeling notice on product packaging. Eligible labeling protocol mirrors the protocols outlined in the state bill. As with the state bill, the “Do Not Flush” symbol is defined by the INDA and EDANA Guidelines for Assessing the Flushability of Disposable Nonwoven Products (Edition 4; May 2018).  
In Case You Missed It
America’s Obsession with Wipes is Tearing Up Sewer Systems
U.S. municipalities shell out at least $1 billion annually on maintenance to remove clogs caused by wipes, according to the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). In Charleston, South Carolina, the problem has gotten so bad during the pandemic that the city’s water management agency filed a lawsuit against major manufacturers and retailers, accusing them of falsely labeling some wipes as flushable. Last year, Washington became the first state to pass legislation requiring manufacturers to label their products with “do not flush” disclaimers, and states including California have also introduced bills that would mandate similar labels. Read the full article here.
Wastewater Has the Best Green Jobs Workers Don’t Know About
“Wastewater may not be front of mind in most discussions of green jobs, but this sector offers opportunities to make profound contributions to sustainability and environmental health. Preventing dangerous pollutants from contaminating watersheds and the ocean and damaging the web of life has elemental importance. But it’s not the only ‘green’ service that workers in this sector provide.” Read the full article here.
Sloan Project Focusing on Wastewater Surveillance Preprint Now Available
“Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 has garnered extensive public attention during the COVID-19 pandemic as a proposed complement to existing disease surveillance systems. Over the past year, environmental microbiology and engineering researchers have advanced methods for detection and quantification of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA in untreated sewage and demonstrated that the trends in wastewater are correlated with trends in cases reported days to weeks later depending on the location. At the start of the pandemic, the virus was also detected in wastewater in locations prior to known cases. Despite the promise of wastewater surveillance, for these measurements to translate into useful public health tools, it is necessary to bridge the barriers between researchers and the public health responders who will ultimately use the data. Here we describe the key uses, barriers, and applicability of SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance for supporting public health decisions and actions. This perspective was formed from a multidisciplinary group of environmental microbiology, engineering, wastewater, and public health experts, as well as from opinions shared during three focus group discussions with officials from ten state and local public health agencies.” Read the full preprint here.
Member News
OC San Video Contest
The Orange County Sanitation District (OC San) is hosting a video contest that challenges students in middle and high schools located in their service area to put together a video that highlights the role of wastewater treatment. They are giving the younger generation a chance to put their Tik Tok, YouTube, and social media skills to good use and create a 15-59 second video. Using a Fact Sheet developed by OC San staff, students can choose any of the facts as a script for their video. The winning students will receive a cash prize and their videos will be used as OC San educational outreach materials throughout Orange County. Be sure to keep an eye out on OC San’s social media pages (@OCSanDistrict) as winners will be notified in June 2021 and will be posted on their social media pages!
Webinars and Workshops
NACWA Webinar: Learn How to Protect Your Utility from Security Threats
On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, from 11:00am to 12:30pm, NACWA is hosting a webinar, Security Threats Facing Today’s Clean Water Utilities. Water and wastewater utilities are facing increasing security threats from outside parties to both their cyber platforms and critical infrastructure. News reports abound detailing events such as ransomware attacks on wastewater utility records, attempts by hackers to remotely poison water supplies, and intimidation of utility workers at treatment sites by armed so-called activists. Join NACWA for a joint Legal Hot Topics and Security Committee event featuring a panel of experts who will discuss what utilities need to know about these threats, potential legal liability in handling them, and what to do if your utility is facing attack. Register here for the free webinar event!
HHS To Hold Information and Feedback Sessions
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Community Services will be holding two Information and Feedback Sessions focusing on the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP) in April. The purpose of the sessions is to provide attendees with critical information about the program’s requirements. The sessions are also to provide OCS a better understanding of the program’s grantees’ anticipated technical assistance needs. The first of the sessions is scheduled for April 20th and is intended for state, territory, and tribal LIHWAP grantees, federal partners, and other stakeholders. The second session is scheduled for April 22nd and is intended for tribal LIHWAP grantees only. Further information about the events and registration can be accessed here.
CALMS Webinar: Wastewater Surveillance for Covid-19
On Wednesday, May 5, 2021, from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, the California Lake Management Society (CALMS) is hosting a lunchtime webinar, Wastewater Surveillance for COVID-19. The objectives of this project were to (i) develop and implement methods to monitor SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater and (ii) examine the levels of the SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater facilities in Southeast Louisiana and develop key relationships with cases in the community to support public health decisions to manage and prevent the spread of the disease. Weekly composite wastewater samples have been collected from 5 wastewater treatment plants for the analysis of SARS-CoV-2. The results and experience of monitoring SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in 4 cities in Southeast Louisiana will be presented. Be sure to register today!
NACWA: National Pretreatment Virtual Event
On May 17 through May 20, 2021, NACWA is partnering with the Association of Clean Water Administrators (ACWA) to bring the latest developments and analysis of the national, state and local issues affecting pretreatment programs from the perspective of both utilities and regulators. Join virtually for the popular roundtable sessions discussing the latest EPA region and pretreatment issues. Then, hear from featured experts who will examine the following hot topics; PFAS Developments, Marijuana Industry and the Potential Impact on Pretreatment, FOG: Strategies for Investigations and Lessons Learned, CROMERR Compliance: Bringing Pretreatment into the Digital Age, and Breaking Down Barriers: EPA, States, and POTWs as Co-Regulators. Be sure to register here today!
CASA represents more than 125 local public agencies engaged in the collection, treatment and recycling of Wastewater and biosolids to protect public health and the environment. Our mission is to provide trusted information and advocacy on behalf of California clean water agencies, and to be a leader in sustainability and utilization of renewable resources.