The Future of Work – CASA Winter Conference 2021
Join us during CASA’s Virtual Winter Conference 2021 to hear from world renowned future-of-work strategist Heather E. McGowan. Heather helps leaders prepare their people and organizations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution through her illuminating graphic frameworks and powerful metaphors, all backed by deep research. In 2017, LinkedIn ranked her as its number one global voice for education. Pulitzer Prize–winning NYT columnist Thomas Friedman frequently quotes Heather in his books and columns and describes her as “the oasis” when it comes to insights into the future of work. You will not want to miss this keynote on day one of the winter conference! Registration is now open, be sure to secure your spot today!

Set for January 27-28, 2021, CASA’s Winter Conference is sure to be one for the books. The program, developed around a theme of “Moving Forward”, will feature an impressive line-up of speakers and opportunities to connect with your peers, all while participating from the comfort of your home or office. We are bringing back the ever popular small-group roundtable sessions (with two sessions this time!), an agency finance focused panel, and a full suite of Committee Meetings, all live and interactive! Register here, we hope to “see” you in January!
State Legislative Update
On Monday, December 7th the California State Assembly and Senate convened for an organizational session to start the 2021-2022 Legislative Session. The state’s constitution requires lawmakers to meet in person in order to swear in all returning and newly elected legislators. Extra precautions were taken to limit interactions between members and friends and family of members who are typically invited to the swearing-in ceremony were prohibited from attending. The Assembly also opted to meet in the Golden 1 Center in order to take advantage of the additional space to provide adequate social distancing. 
In addition to members being sworn in, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins were both reelected to their respective leadership positions. Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes was selected as California’s first Latina Assembly Majority Leader and Senator Robert Hertzberg remains the Majority Leader in the Senate. The organizational session establishes the rules and procedures for the upcoming two-year session, and there were some procedural changes adopted to allow for the Legislature to proceed with their business in consideration of COVID precautions. Members will return on January 4th for the official beginning of the two-year session. 
Federal Update
Federal COVID-19 Relief Efforts Restart
Congress and the White House have reconvened efforts to pass COVID-19 relief before the year’s end. With just a month left in the congressional legislative schedule, three different efforts are being put forward. The first proposal is a bipartisan Senate relief package, entitled the American Worker Holiday Relief Act, that would deliver a total of $908 billion in aid to support small businesses, pandemic unemployment assistance, state and local governments, and schools. As of this writing, text of the bill has yet to be released and it remains unknown if a ratepayer assistance grants program to assist water utilities offset costs associated with delinquent bill payments during the pandemic makes it into the package. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) supports the package and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has signaled a willingness to accept the smaller relief package.
USEPA Develops Interim Strategy to Monitor and Manage PFAS In Wastewater
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has developed an interim strategy for how to manage Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contamination in wastewater, as it continues to advance its regulatory determinations outlined in its PFAS Action Plan. The strategy is outlined in an internal Agency memo and only applies to PFAS chemicals for which the Agency has validated testing methods. It recommends a phased-in approach for additional requirements as further testing methods are validated for additional PFAS chemicals. This interim strategy may be edited, amended, or discarded by the incoming Administration next year if the Agency’s new leadership wants to take a different approach to tackle the issue.  
House and Senate Reach Compromise WRDA 2020
After months of negotiating, the House and Senate have reached a compromise Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA). The final bill focuses primarily on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) water infrastructure provisions that support improving USACE water infrastructure projects, studies and construction, strengthening U.S. ports and harbors, and improving the resiliency of communities to wet weather events by increasing the resiliency of USACE projects. The clean water and drinking water provisions that were included in the Senate’s America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 (S. 3591) were ultimately cut from the final WRDA bill during conference negotiations. A section-by-section fact sheet summarizing WRDA 2020 provisions can be accessed here.
Regulatory Update
State Water Board Adopts Toxicity Provisions
On December 1, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board/SWB) adopted the toxicity provisions for inland surface waters (Provisions). These provisions have been developed over the course of several years with several rounds of input from CASA and other stakeholders in the clean water community. Over the month of November, CASA met with SWB members, staff, and counsel to discuss the remaining issues and details for the practicable implementation of the regulations. Notwithstanding CASA’s overarching concerns with the Provisions’ use of numeric limits for chronic toxicity and mandating the Test of Significant Toxicity (TST), from CASA’s perspective, the final version of the Provisions and adopting Resolution represent an acceptable compromise.

Perhaps most importantly, the State Water Board has committed to proceeding with a study of the ceriodaphnia dubia reproduction test (a key point of concern for CASA) and conducting a meaningful check in with the SWB Members when the study is complete. The final versions of the Provisions and supporting materials will soon be available on the SWB’s Toxicity program page, and the first stakeholder meeting for the cerio study has been scheduled for December 8. Thank you to all of our members who helped us work on the Provisions over these last few years. Please reach out to Jared Voskuhl if you have questions.
Creative Corner
Let’s Talk WBE
CASA’s Communications Committee has been hard at work creating a Resource Toolkit to aid in agency outreach on Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE). Resources include sample social media posts, sample newsletter content, FAQs, a WBE logo, WBE fact sheet, press links to stories on WBE, and more. We hope that these tools are simple enough to “copy + paste” to social media platforms, external newsletters, or other communications, so that you and your teams can keep continued focus on the invaluable work you do. These tools are available for all CASA members to use and customize. 
The toolkit is available on the CASA COVID webpage under “WBE Communication Tools”. For access to additional materials or questions about how to use them, please contact Alyssa Downs. This is intended to be a resource to utilize at each agency’s discretion. We are not asking agencies to promote any specific messaging, merely providing materials in case your agency is interested.
Member News
LACSD Expands Food Waste Recycling System to Produce Vehicle Fuel
As part of its mission to convert waste into resources, the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts (Sanitation Districts) recently started up a biogas purification system to recycle food waste into renewable vehicle fuel. Food waste includes dinner scraps, spoiled fruit and vegetables from grocery stores and restaurants. “We’ve been converting food waste into electricity for over six years. With this new biogas purification system, we now also produce renewable natural gas that is used to fuel vehicles like cars, buses and trucks. We know that many cities are grappling with how to meet state requirements for recycling food waste and are pleased to offer a complete and cost-effective solution,” said Robert C. Ferrante, Chief Engineer and General Manager for the Sanitation Districts. Read more about the program in the press release.
EMWD General Manager Paul Jones Honored by ACWA
Last week, Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) General Manager Paul D. Jones II, P.E., was recognized with the John P. Fraser Emissary Award by the Association of California Water Agencies at its annual Fall Conference. The award is presented to individuals who have made remarkable and visible contributions to the enhancement, protection or development of water resources in California through their support of ACWA’s goals. Congratulations and well deserved, Paul! Read more in the press release.
Rising Tide Partners Newsletter
In an effort to further amplify and bring more public awareness to the various innovative projects happening in cities across California - from creative economic development to sustainable water infrastructure - CASA associate member, Rising Tide Partners, has unveiled a new monthly newsletter, one that promises to be brief yet engaging. Be sure to subscribe today! To learn more about Rising Tide Partners, visit their website at or email
SVCW Launches More User-Friendly Updated Website
Silicon Valley Clean Water (SVCW) just debuted its more user friendly, ADA compliant website, featuring more online services, deeper content, and more engaging design. "We've been innovating on a grand scale across our operations for years, and knew it was time to upgrade our website to better reflect our vision and Silicon Valley home," said Teresa Herrera, SVCW Manager. "We are really proud of its sleek, intuitive design, deep and engaging content, easier search capability and options for customers to apply for permits and jobs online.” The revamped site includes stunning professional photography, videography and content to educate readers about what SVCW does to inspire and educate the public. A News & Hot Topics page now keeps everyone in the know about the latest news and innovations at SVCW. The new website also boasts full ADA and WCAG 2.1 compliance with an AI-powered accessibility widget. Check out the new website and read more in the press release.
In Case You Missed It
Brave Blue World Documentary Streaming on Netflix
The new Brave Blue World documentary, which paints an optimistic picture of how humanity is adopting new technologies and innovations for a sustainable water future, is available on Netflix. The Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a production partner for the film, which will now be available to an audience of 193 million worldwide Netflix subscribers and subtitled in 29 languages. Narrated by Liam Neeson, the documentary includes interviews with a variety of water experts, as well as activists Matt Damon and Jaden Smith. It features compelling stories, beautiful scenery, and examples of novel ways of tackling water problems from across five continents. The film explores developments in areas such as water reuse, nutrient recovery, energy generation, decentralized treatment, and the digitalization of water. Brave Blue World also includes a segment and interview with Tom Kunetz, a WEF Past President, at the world’s largest nutrient recovery facility, the Stickney Water Reclamation Plant in Illinois. Learn more here and be sure to check out the documentary today!
CSRMA Webinar: Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Regulations
Join the California Sanitation Risk Management Authority (CSRMA) today, Wednesday, December 9, at 8:15am (PT) for a webinar: Office of Administrative Law Approves Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Regulations. On November 30, 2020, the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved Cal/OSHA’s proposed temporary emergency regulations regarding COVID-19 prevention and outbreaks. These regulations are effective immediately and are located in the new Title 8 sections 3205 (COVID-19 Prevention), 3205.1 (Multiple COVID-19 Infections and Outbreaks), 3205.2 (Major COVID-19 Outbreaks). These regulations apply to most workers in California, with some exceptions. It is imperative that employers familiarize themselves with these new regulations as soon as possible to mitigate potential exposure. Existing policies and procedures should be reevaluated to confirm that they comply with the myriad of detailed requirements. Please join CSRMA for this free webinar where the new regulation and methods of compliance will be discussed.
EPA Workforce Technology Adoption: It’s All About the People Webinar
Today, Wednesday, December 9, at 8:00am (PT), join the EPA and speakers from two leading organizations as they discuss the motivations, challenges, and benefits they are seeing as they work with their own employees and others to ensure these persons get the best support possible to meet the water quality challenges of the 21st century. Register for the free webinar here.
Join us next week as we continue our COVID-19 webinar series on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 11:00am. For the last eight months, CASA and CWEA have hosted a series of joint webinars focusing primarily on COVID-19 related issues. We will continue that series through the end of the year, focusing on wastewater based epidemiology developments and other relevant COVID-19 research and initiatives.
Jan. 27-28, 2021