Member Spotlight
Orange County Sanitation District Engages in Wastewater Based Epidemiology  
The wastewater sector is emerging as a valuable resource to cost-effectively monitor the COVID-19 pandemic through Wastewater Based Epidemiology (WBE). Influent monitoring for viruses is not a new concept. This approach been used for many years to monitor for other viruses of concern such as Polio and SARS, and when employed in collaboration with public health officials, can serve as a reliable indicator of community infection rates. By analyzing influent wastewater, we can monitor trends in real-time, evaluate the community-based presence of the virus through indicators, calculate infection rates, prioritize focus areas, and observe the impacts of shelter-in-place orders. Monitoring the virus responsible for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) in wastewater can provide public health and medical professionals with a leading indicator of anticipated infection dynamics. As interest in WBE increases, the CDC, USEPA, leading universities, and research outlets are beginning to coordinate efforts, and we anticipate rapid expansion of these projects in the next several months.  

We reached out to the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD), which has recently elected to participate in multiple WBE studies, to find out more about their efforts and to get a sense of how WBE is implemented on the ground level. 
COVID-19 Updates
FEMA, USEPA, CalWARN & AWWA to Provide Cloth Face Masks to Utilities
In partnership with FEMA, USEPA, and the American Water Works Association, the California Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (CalWARN) will be receiving a limited supply of cloth reusable face masks and making them available to California water and wastewater utilities. Your agency does not need to be a CalWARN member to request face masks. Further information is available here on the American Water Works Association California-Nevada Section website
Executive Order Expands Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage
On May 6, Governor Newsom issued Executive Order  N-62-20 , which expands Workers Compensation Insurance coverage to essentially all employees required to work outside the home that contract COVID-19. The expanded benefit is a rebuttable presumption that requires a positive test, or a diagnosis followed by a positive test. It applies to any worker who was directed to work outside the home between March 19 and July 5, and who began showing symptoms within 14 days of doing so. CASA member agencies should review the full text of the order and confer with their insurance providers about the potential impacts to your operations. The Department of Industrial Relations also has a COVID-19 website with additional information for all employers.
CASA Presents: “Virtual” Brown Act Meetings During COVID-19
Hanson Bridgett LLP will be hosting a webinar for CASA members on Thursday, May 21 st  at 3pm.

Are you Zooming the Brown Act? COVID-19 has changed the way California public agencies conduct their Brown Act meetings, creating new challenges and opportunities. In this webinar, participants will learn about the Governor’s suspension of requirements for in-person public meetings, best practices for noticing and running virtual meetings under the Brown Act, special procedures for virtual public comment and closed sessions, and how other agencies are adapting to these changes. You will also come away with a “Top Ten” list of recommendations for virtual Brown Act meetings.

This one hour webinar will begin at 3:00 PM with presentations by Claire Collins, former Chair of CASA’s Attorneys Committee and Partner at Hanson Bridgett LLP; Allison Schutte, Partner at Hanson Bridgett LLP; and Andrew J. Ramos, Principal at Bartkiewicz, Kronick & Shanahan. A Q&A session will also be available at the end of the presentation.  

Register here . One hour California State Bar MCLE credit (general) is available for live webinar participation (approval pending).
Federal Update
Phase IV Relief Package
House Democrats have introduced the phase IV relief package, entitled the HEROES Act, that proposes a total of $3 trillion dollars in economic assistance to address both the continuing public health crisis and the economic shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The package expands on the provisions and policies of the CARES Act, that Congress passed in April, and establishes new avenues of funding assistance, such as the Heroes Fund , which provides $180 billion to provide financial support essential workers during the crisis. The proposal also creates a new $1.5 billion ratepayer assistance program for wastewater and drinking water utilities, and provides $875 billion in direct assistance to states and local governments hit hard by the crisis but does not extend assistance eligibility to special districts. The bill also remedies the eligibility exclusion of the public sector from receiving payroll tax credits for paid family and sick leave that were granted to the private sector, by deleting the exclusionary provision in the CARES Act. However, congressional Republicans have shown skepticism over the Democrats’ plan, noting that Congress recently passed extensive relief funding packages in the last two months. The House is expected to debate and vote on the package on Friday, May 15.
Congress Focuses on Ratepayer Assistance
The phase IV relief package proposed by Congressional Democrats would establishe a new $1.5 billion ratepayer assistance grants program to support low-income household needs. Under the program, the Department of Health and Human Services would provide grants to States, which the States would distribute to public drinking water and wastewater utilities to help offset revenue losses due to COVID-19 impacts. 

To be eligible to receive funding, utilities will have to ensure and maintain outreach activities, notifying ratepayers of available assistance and charge not more than the difference between actual cost of service and amount of assistance payment made by the State. Under this program, a utility receiving assistance is barred from disconnecting service due to nonpayment, charging late fees or fees accrued during the emergency period, and reconnections of service must be conducted so that health risks to the household receiving service are minimized. Consideration of this program and the Phase IV package by the House could occur on May 15.

Below is a summary of how the bill defines low-income households and how funding would be allocated to States under the program.
Senate Committee Advances Water Legislation
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works unanimously approved the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 ( S. 3591 ) and Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 ( S. 3590 ) by roll call votes of 21-0. The bills now go to the Senate floor for debate, but a date has not yet been scheduled. 

S. 3591 provides a total of $17 billion in new federal authorizations to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects and activities, and the USEPA's municipal wastewater, stormwater, and other clean water infrastructure needs, including $3 billion for the State Revolving Fund. H.R. 3590 provides $2.5 billion to address the nation’s drinking water needs to support the SRF Program and PFAS cleanups.

Text of S. 3591 can be reviewed here .
Text of S. 3590 can be reviewed here .
Regulatory Updates
State Water Board Adopts New Regulations for Environmental Labs
On May 5, the State Water Board adopted a package of regulations governing California labs that represent a significant shift in California’s policy for this program. The previous regulations were adopted in the 1990s and allowed environmental labs to acquire accreditation either from the State or from The Nelac Institute (TNI), allowing labs to use their in-house data and submit it to state regulatory agencies for compliance purposes. Over the last two decades, 95% of the environmental labs in California pursued accreditation from the State, and of the 5% that sought TNI accreditation, only a small fraction were public or municipal labs. The new regulations adopted earlier this month now require labs to pursue accreditation through compliance with the 2016 TNI standard.
Water Board Extends Deadline for Agency Recycled Water Volumetric Annual Report to June 30
On April 29, the  State Water Board officially extended the April 30 deadline  for recycled water volumetric annual reporting to June 30. These reports are required under  Executive Order 2019-0037 , for which the State Water Board released multiple materials including a  FAQ  and a  Help Guide for Geotracker . These materials are designed  to assist the over 900 permittees affected by the changes to monitoring and reporting programs for WDRs, NPDES permits, water reclamation requirements, master recycling permits, and general waste discharge requirements. For questions about preparing your report, please contact  Rebecca Greenwood  at the State Water Board.
Member News
Member Dues Changes
The CASA Board recently approved changes to the CASA Member Dues tiers and amounts, subject to approval by the membership at CASA’s Annual Business Meeting in August. With this change, a number of member agencies (particularly smaller agencies) will see a significant decrease in dues, while some of the larger agencies will see a nominal increase of 1-2%. The impetus for these changes was to soften the financial impact on agencies that may be transitioning from one tier to the next, particularly smaller agencies, and to assist with retaining and recruiting these agency members. The structural changes are designed to be revenue neutral for CASA as an organization. Please find additional details on the proposed changes here as your agency to begins to plan and budget for 2021.
Three Days Left!
Has your agency applied for CASA’s Award of Excellence yet? There’s still time! 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 Sunday, May 17. 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. For more information about the award criteria and categories, please visit the Awards Program Webpage .
IEUA Board Votes to Defer Upcoming
Adjustment on Monthly Sewer Rates
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Inland Empire Utilities Agency's (IEUA) Board of Directors unanimously voted to defer the scheduled Wastewater Equivalent Dwelling Unit rate adjustment for 12 months on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.
"In an effort to mitigate the fiscal impact to our ratepayers, and address concerns already raised by some of our member agencies, the Board felt that deferring the monthly EDU rate was the right thing to do," stated IEUA Board President Kati Parker. "The revenue shortfall will be covered by a combination of deferral of non-critical projects and expenses, and the use of operating contingency funds to support essential operating and capital costs not recovered by rates." Read the full Press Release .

Agencies who have implemented a similar action or are exploring this as an option are encouraged to email Adam Link for any additional information.
Virtual Citizens Water Academy
In order to keep their community engaged, Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) came up with a fantastic idea: a Virtual Citizens Water Academy! This free, four-session virtual course is a great way to learn about critical issues and projects related to water, wastewater, and recycled water. Check out more here . Kudos to DSRSD and their creativity!
CSDA Virtual Legislative Days 2020
It’s not too late to register for the California Special Districts Association’s (CSDA) 2020 Virtual Special Districts Legislative Days coming up on May 18 - 22, 2020. Get access to three on-demand Policy Expert Webinars, a LIVE Legislative Briefing, and more! Be sure to register today for access to important information using this new format with no travel or hotel costs.
In Memoriam
James R. Jones, immediate past board member of the South Tahoe Public Utility District (STPUD) Board of Directors, passed away on Thursday, May 7, 2020. Jim had over 50 years of experience in water resources and wastewater treatment and was an active member in the Tahoe community since 1973. Jim made great strides for the clean water community including leading STPUD’S successful lawsuit against the oil industry’s MTBE pollution of South Lake Tahoe’s drinking water wells, and as part of a nationwide coalition of water agencies, Jim testified before Congress in the successful goal of banning MTBE. He was a leader in promoting state and national efforts to protect critical watersheds in the Sierra Nevada from catastrophic wildfire through active, collaborative forest management. Jim was well known and respected in the CASA community and the CASA staff extends their deepest condolences and sympathy to Jim’s friends, family, and all those whose lives he touched, especially at STPUD.
On Wednesday, June 3, 2020, from 11:00am to 12:30pm (PT) the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) will host the last segment of the four-part complimentary Resilience Webinar Series: Managing Challenges Through Resilience Thinking . Register today to learn about the role that water agencies play in improving community resiliency, explore how water agencies have adapted to the challenges and uncertainties faced due to the impacts of climate change and how they can mitigate the impacts of their own operations.
On Wednesday May 27, 2020, from 11:00am to 12:00pm (PT), the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) will host a webinar: Research on SARS-CoV-2 in the Environment. EPA scientists are building on a foundation of world-class research by applying their knowledge to reduce the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This webinar will highlight research EPA is working on with CDC, including Environmental Cleanup and Disinfection, Wastewater Virus Detection, and Salivary Antibody Assay Development. Register here .
Water Reuse
On Thursday, May 20, 2020, from 11:00am to 12:00pm (PT) Water Reuse will host a webinar: An Operational Discussion . This webcast will focus on the operational perspective of reuse and its evolution from a waste stream to a resource.