Midterm Election Results: What They Mean for Your Agency
Big Changes in Washington D.C.
The most significant change following the midterm election is the shift of power in the House of Representatives. For eight years, the House has been under a Republican majority. The Democrats gained more than 30 seats in key swing districts, with six seats still too close to call.

Notably for water and wastewater agencies, these changes indicate a major infrastructure bill could be front and center during the next Congress convening on January 3. In addition, increased oversight of Trump Administration efforts to impose regulatory streamlining changes and reduce federal involvement in environmental programs are expected to be a key piece of the Democratic agenda.

In contrast to the upset in the House, Republicans are slated to gain at least one seat in the Senate and possibly more, securing their control of the upper house. Republicans did not secure the 60-vote margin for filibuster, however. 
What about California?
Several California congressional seats were flipped, contributing to the shift in power. Three key races were a priority for Democrats: 

  • CD 49 Mark Levin (D) defeated Diane Harkey (R)
  • CD 25 Katie Hill (D) unseated incumbent Steve Knight (R)
  • CD 48 Harley Rouda (D) defeated incumbent Dana Rohrabacher (R) 

In two of the most closely watched California races, incumbent representatives Jeff Denham (R) and Mimi Walters (R) races are too close to call and are expected to be decided by mid-December.
What to expect between now and January.
T here are several near-term consequences to be aware of:

  • Republicans may push forward many of their priority issues in the lame duck session in anticipation of losing control of the House. We are watching for proposals that could impact CASA members.
  • There will be major changes to party leadership in Congress, including the potential elections of California’s Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House and Kevin McCarthy as the Minority Leader. If elected, California would effectively control leadership of both parties in the House.
  • There will be major changes to committee leadership (including committees where CASA issues are deliberated). All chairmanships will switch parties once the new Congress is sworn in on January 3. We expect that many California members, including representatives Huffman, Schiff, Napolitano, Swalwell, Lowenthal, Lee, Matsui, Waters and DeSaulnier, will sit as chairs of committees or subcommittees with significant responsibilities over national security, finance, funding and water policy issues.
  • Chairmanship appointments will be ratified in early December and actual committee membership assignments will be made in December or January.  
Legislative Update
The New Legislative Landscape
The results of the midterm elections will bring significant changes in California that will impact water and wastewater policies. In the coming days, Governor-elect Gavin Newsom will finalize his administration and select key advisors to serve in his cabinet. 

The incoming administration will work closely with Governor Brown’s team to compile the 2019 budget proposal, released in early January, which will likely be reflective of Governor Newsom’s first year priorities. In addition to the new Governor, California elected new constitutional officers: Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Treasurer Fiona Ma, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and the new Superintendent of Schools is yet to be decided in the close race between Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond.
Other News
CASA Contributes to Focused Work on Emerging Chemicals
The family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances have recently emerged as a growing concern in biosolids and wastewater. Some regulatory agencies, particularly in the northeastern United States, have begun to scrutinize biosolids and other residuals due to fears of PFAS leaking from soils impacting groundwater and surface water. These PFAS levels have approached or exceeded screening values and regulatory standards in some instances.

In order to better understand this emerging issue, CASA has contributed funds to the North East Biosolids and Residuals Association for a national effort. NEBRA will focused on PFAS related to biosolids, residuals management and wastewater through the end of 2019. CASA staff will be participating on the advisory group for this work. 
CASA Joins Federal Coalition in Support of Low-Income Rate Assistance
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) recently launched the Low-Income Water Customer Assistance Programs Act (S. 3564). This legislation, aimed to assist low-income ratepayers, creates a pilot program that funds 32 programs across the nation based on rural/urban population categories. The legislation is supported by national environmental and labor groups. It is modeled after successful low-income energy assistance programs that have provided federal assistance to offset costs associated with heating needs.

CASA joined with other water sector stakeholders in a joint letter of support of S. 3564. The legislation has bipartisan support but is unlikely to be addressed during the lame duck legislative session. However, the issue could be a top priority next year.
Member News 
Five CASA Members Selected to Apply for WIFIA Loans
Congratulations to CASA member agencies who were invited to apply for FY 2018 Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loans. The WIFIA program is inviting 39 projects in 16 states to apply for funding. The City of Stockton, City of Los Angeles, Silicon Valley Clean Water, Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County and Inland Empire Utilities Agency will represent California.

Funds will support projects that include treatment infrastructure upgrades, conveyance infrastructure rehabilitation and advanced treatment for groundwater replenishment. Together, the selected borrowers will receive WIFIA loans totaling up to $5 billion to help finance over $10 billion in water infrastructure investments nationally. 

State Water Board Releases Annual Sewer Fee Survey
The State Water Board’s Division of Financial Assistance is conducting a survey of sewer rates and connection (capacity) fees for calendar year 2018. As part of this year’s effort, DFA has developed an online survey and questionnaire to assist in gathering the information. 

The survey takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and assists DFA with providing communities with financing to address water quality issues. The survey deadline is December 31, 2018 .

Click here to participate in the survey.
Central San Recognized for Maintenance Reliability Award
Congratulations to Central San for excellence in maintenance of their regional wastewater treatment plant in Martinez. Central San was honored by Uptime Magazine with the national award for Best Reliability Engineering for Maintenance Program. 

Central San collects and treats an average of 44 million gallons of wastewater every day for the residents in central Contra Costa County. The award recognizes Central San’s maintenance program which ensures operational reliability and keeps costs down. Central San’s all-inclusive approach allows staff to determine improvements in equipment and processes, saving customers money.
Mark Your Calendar
Save the Date
With the focus on the new congressional landscape, this is a friendly reminder that the CASA Washington D.C. Policy Forum is February 25-27, 2019. The conference will take place at the St. Regis, the same venue as last year. 

We will have an impressive slate of speakers to discuss how the midterm elections impact key committee leadership, infrastructure and wastewater priorities and what to expect in the new congressional session. Registration opens soon.  
CASA Winter Conference Registration Now Open
Registration is now open for the 2019 Winter Conference. Please join us in the new year at a new location: The Renaissance in Indian Wells on January 23-25, 2019.
Nov. 14 - 16
Jan. 23 - 25, 2019
Feb. 25-27, 2019
Aug. 21-23, 2019