Award of Excellence Nominations: Expanded Categories!
CASA is pleased to invite member agencies and associates to submit an Award of Excellence application now through April 30, 2021. This year, CASA has expanded the program to include a separate award for both small and large agencies in all categories. Your organization works hard to do what’s right for California. Recognition from the leading clean water association honors your hard work and accomplishments. It’s a symbol of respect, credibility, and innovation, and can improve employee engagement and morale. Categories include Excellence in Innovation & Resiliency, Public Outreach/Education, Organizational Excellence, and Outstanding Capital Project. Award recipients will be honored in August during CASA’s Annual Conference. Submit an application today!
CASA Education Foundation Scholarship Applications
The CASA Education Foundation helps ensure clean water for Californians 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.
Committee Seeks Suggestions for Potential CASA Board Members
The CASA nominating committee, chaired by past president Bill Long, will convene in early spring to consider CASA Board of Directors candidates for the August 2021 ballot. The committee will be recommending candidates for four of the twelve elected seats. The Board of Directors is the governing body responsible for policy decisions and oversight of CASA’s Executive Director. Board members are expected to: 
  • Attend all CASA conferences and the Washington D.C. policy forum 
  • Participate in monthly board conference/zoom calls and future in-person meetings 
  • Attend an annual strategic planning session for the association
  • Assist in member recruitment and retention 
  • Represent CASA at events and meetings as requested by the President 
CASA attempts to include geographic diversity as well as a balance of agency managers and elected officials on our Board. This year we anticipate the need for a Northern California elected official. Ideal candidates will be familiar with CASA as an organization and preferably will have served on or actively participated in CASA workgroups, committees and events.  
If you know someone who would be a valuable board member, please send a brief email to with their name, agency and a few sentences about his or her qualifications. Please send your recommendation by Monday, March 15, 2021.
Federal Update
Special Federal Legislative Committee Meeting: Earmarks
Following the announcement from the House Committee on Appropriations that earmarks will return for the upcoming appropriations cycle, FY 2022, CASA’s Federal Legislative Committee (FLC) will hold a special meeting on the topic that will be open to the entire CASA membership.
On Wednesday, March 17, at 11:00am, CASA’s FLC will hold a special meeting to review the reinstallment of earmarks, now known as community funding projects, in Congress and discuss how CASA members can submit community funding project requests to their respective House and Senate Members for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations.
The meeting will be held over Zoom and open to all CASA members. A meeting invite will be sent out to the CASA membership ahead of March 17.
Congress Set To Pass COVID-19 Relief 
By tomorrow morning, the House will have passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, sending the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package to the President’s desk to be signed into law. Democrats were able to meet their self-imposed deadline of March 14 to pass the package before unemployment benefits start to expire. The bill includes important federal assistance measures to aid the wastewater and water sector. The final package includes the following wastewater assistance provisions: 

  • $5 billion for ratepayer and utility assistance for water, wastewater, and electricity utilities 
  • As part of the $50 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s disaster fund, $500 million for water assistance and $100 million for environmental justice grants 
  • Within the $350 billion for state and local governments assistance, there is language to allow water and sewer infrastructure eligibility for funding 

Now that Congress has passed COVID-19 relief, lawmakers and the Administration will shift its focus to infrastructure investment. House and Senate Committee leadership have stated their desire to move infrastructure legislation by this spring and summer, including water infrastructure legislation. Last week, the White House hosted a bipartisan group of lawmakers to begin talks on developing a federal infrastructure investment package. It is likely that lawmakers who advocated for additional assistance measures to be included in the COVID-19 relief package, but were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts, to bring the assistance issues up again during infrastructure investment discussions.
New Ratepayer Assistance Push in Senate
As the Senate considered the recently passed $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Plan, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Democrat Senators continued to push congressional leadership to include further ratepayer assistance measures in the package. One proposal to increase such assistance was a bill from Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), that would have created a new loan program, authorized at $9 billion through September 30, 2025, under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to assist water and wastewater and electric utilities with costs associated with uncollected bills in exchange for a moratorium on shutoffs. While this effort by Merkley ultimately failed, we can expect lawmakers to continue to call upon leaders to provide further assistance to address and support utilities, including wastewater utilities, and ratepayers struggling financially, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, is expected to continue. It is also possible for Merkley to continue to advocate for his proposal as Congress turns its attention to infrastructure investment.
ASCE Publishes 2021 Infrastructure Report Card
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released their 2021 Infrastructure Report Card for America’s various infrastructure sectors and, overall, the grade of the nation’s infrastructure increased slightly to a C- from D+ in the 2017 Report Card. The Report Card graded the nation’s wastewater infrastructure at a D+, which translates to that the systems are poor and are at risk of failure. ASCE cites that the risk is due to the fact that the systems have reached the end of their service life. The Report Card states that the nation’s more than 16,000 wastewater treatment plants are operating at 81% design capacity, and while service demands have increased over the years, investment in the infrastructure has not. It estimates that the total funding gap for the sector will reach $434 billion by 2029, noting that the future funding needs will also involve addressing costlier operation and maintenance (O&M) needs. As a result of the growing O&M costs for utilities, the Report Card states that the nation will be faced with a single-year O&M shortfall of $18 billion in 2039.

ASCE’s publication comes as Congress shifts its focus to infrastructure investment following passage of COVID-19 relief. The report card will serve as an important reference point as the next phase of President Biden’s legislative agenda moves into position for action later this spring, a vast economic-recovery package that will focus on addressing America’s infrastructure needs.
CASA Sends Support Letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee
On February 23, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment held a hearing to examine the investment needs of the nation's clean water infrastructure sector and review the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 discussion draft. CASA sent a letter of support for the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act of 2021 discussion draft to the subcommittee to be included in the February 23rd hearing's record.
Member News
EBMUD Receives NACWA National Environmental Achievement Award
Congratulations to the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), which garnered two National Environmental Achievement Awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA). EBMUD’s Virtual Tour Program won in the category of Public Information & Education: Educational Program, and their Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay won in the category of Watershed Collaboration. The award program recognizes individuals and NACWA’s member agencies that have outstanding contributions to environmental protection and the clean water community. Congrats again to EMBUD, well deserved!
In Case You Missed It
House Debate Starts on Need for Boosted Clean Water Funding
“Funding for U.S. water infrastructure—specifically for wastewater-treatment facilities—is gaining more attention in the House as advocates push for increased federal investment.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), backs major facility funding, noting at a Feb 23 hearing, “I’m going to push for a very ambitious number and then we’re going to find ways to pay for it.” Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee's water resources and environment subcommittee, said at the hearing that she plans to introduce legislation soon to reauthorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) program, the main federal funding resource for wastewater treatment projects.” Read the full article here.
One Water Approach Is Focus of ASCE Infrastructure Panel
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is set to announce new grants worth about $60 million for sewer overflow and stormwater reuse municipal projects, said EPA water group official Radhika Fox during an American Society of Civil Engineers panel discussion following the release of its infrastructure report card March 3. “It’s a drop in the bucket relative to the need of what we have as far as the stormwater challenge,” said Fox, acting assistant administrator at the agency’s Office of Water, “but it is, I think, a step in the right direction.” The challenges of water management were set against a backdrop of ASCE infrastructure grades that included a D+ for wastewater and a C- for drinking water. In a first, the ASCE looked at stormwater on its own. “Unfortunately, its inaugural grade was a D,” said moderator Greg DiLoreto, former ASCE president.” Read the full article here.
USEPA's Local Government Advisory Committee and Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Intergovernmental Relations invites nominations from a diverse range of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to its Local Government Advisory Committee (LGAC) and Small Communities Advisory Subcommittee (SCAS). LGAC and SCAS members and qualified nominees hold elected or appointed positions with local, tribal, state, and territorial governments…. members will provide advice and recommendations on a broad range of issues related to our shared goals of promoting and protecting public health and the environment. These issues may include advancing environmental justice; ensuring access to clean air and water; reducing greenhouse gas emissions; bolstering resilience to the impacts of climate change; and limiting exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides. To be considered for 2021 appointments, nominations should be submitted by April 16, 2021.”
Assessing and Managing SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health Risk to Workers Handling Residuals and Biosolids
CASA’s Greg Kester in partnership with other associations and universities, published an article in the Science of the Total Environment, Assessing and Managing SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Health Risk to Workers Handling Residuals and Biosolids. “Current wastewater worker guidance from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations and states that no additional specific protections against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infections, are recommended for employees involved in wastewater management operations with residuals, sludge, and biosolids at water resource recovery facilities…” Read the full article here.
Webinars and Workshops
SB 91 Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Household Utility Debt Information Session
Tomorrow, Thursday, March 11, from 1:00pm to 3:30pm, the California Department of Housing and Community Development will be hosting an interactive listening session on the recently passed Tenet Relief Act focused on emergency rental assistance for rent and utilities. Utilities interested in learning more about how to interact with the State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) are encouraged to attend. Pre-registration is required, so be sure to register today.
NSAC: Business-Driven Solutions to Organics Recycling
On Friday, March 12, from 8:30 am to 10:00 am, join the National Stewardship Action Council for a webinar, How to Make Money from Saving the World: Business-Driven Solutions to Organics Recycling. Governments across the United States are trying to determine how to manage organics with evolving and complicated rules and pressure to move fast to reduce methane release and preserve organics and topsoil. Some states, like California, have passed laws requiring organics disposal reduction. Now, businesses and municipalities are racing to keep up with new mandates when permitting and funding the facilities can be very time consuming and costly. On this webinar, you will hear from local governments that manage organics and are responsible to meet diversion targets, and the collectors and processors of the organics on new technologies that may provide the solutions you need. The panelists will discuss their views of the problems and offer solutions. Be sure to register today!
CalRecycle: Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship (SB 212) Plan Workshop
On Wednesday, March 24, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm CalRecycle staff will present an overview of the statutory and regulatory requirements, submittal process, and timing for covered drug and home-generated sharps waste stewardship plans and initial program budgets as required by the Pharmaceutical and Sharps Waste Stewardship law and its implementing regulations. The workshop will include time for questions and answers. To be as informative and responsive as possible, staff encourage questions to be submitted to by March 10, 2021. Be sure to register 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.