Federal Update
Congress Returns With Packed September Legislative Schedule
After taking the month of August off, Congress has returned to Washington D.C. with a packed legislative to-do list. At the top of the list are striking a deal on a coronavirus relief package and passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) ahead of the start of the new fiscal year on October 1. Both of these endeavors are proving difficult as Congress and the White House remain locked in a stalemate over how to provide another round of coronavirus relief assistance after negotiations between the White House and Congressional Democrats broke down last month. However, there may be a potential for renewed talks after the U.S. House of Representatives’ Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of 50 lawmakers, unveiled their compromise coronavirus relief framework the “March to Common Ground.” The $2 trillion framework aims to strike a compromise between the roughly $3.4 trillion House-passed HEROES Act (H.R. 6800) and the $650 billion skinny bill proposed by Senate Republicans.
USEPA Prepares to Issue Revised Clean Water Act Affordability Policy
After years of review into the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA) policy on what defines a community’s ability to afford obligations in meeting Clean Water Act standards, including a congressionally directed National Association of Public Administration study into the issue, the agency is preparing to release an updated policy. The Federal Register publication updates the Financial Capability Assessment for Clean Water Act Obligations and highlights the priority to build into the policy flexibility in determining if a community is dedicating sufficient resources to comply with water quality standards and other Clean Water Act mandates. Under the current approach, the agency and states rely essentially upon Median Household Income to determine whether a community is adequately investing in treatment needs. The proposed new approach would include consideration of the lowest quintile of income of a community, poverty indexes, and the costs of all water services (including drinking water) to better understand the burdens a community confronts in meeting clean water infrastructure demands related to permitting decisions or enforcement actions. The agency will allow for a thirty-day public comment period on the revisions. Reexamining affordability in this context is something that has been championed by CASA’s national partners for many years and represents meaningful progress on the issue.
State Legislative Update
Employment Related COVID Bills Signed by Governor
On Thursday, September 17, Governor Newsom signed two COVID related employment bills that likely will impact all wastewater agencies. AB 685 (Reyes) requires that starting January 1, 2021, employers must issue notifications of potential COVID exposures to any workers exposed to an employee that has tested positive or been ordered to self-isolate. The Governor also signed SB 1159 (Hill) which codifies and extends his earlier Executive Order to expand the workers compensation insurance presumption to all workers who contract COVID and who are required by their employer to work outside of the home for the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic. More information about the implementation of SB 1159, which takes effect immediately as an urgency measure, is available from the Department of Industrial Relations here. A complete wrap up of all bills impacting wastewater agencies signed or vetoed by the Governor will be in a forthcoming edition of CASA Connects.
CASA Seeking Legislative & Regulatory Analyst
CASA recently initiated the recruitment process for a new Legislative & Regulatory Analyst. This position will assist in implementing the Association’s state legislative and regulatory program; research, monitor, and analyze legislation and regulatory issues affecting Association members; and provide staff support to the State Legislative Committee and Regulatory Work Group. More information about the new position, including a job description and requirements, is available here. Cover letters and resumes are due to HR@casaweb.org no later than this Friday, September 25.
Member News
Grand Opening of Las Virgenes Triunfo Pure Water Project Demonstration Facility
Congratulations to the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District and the Triunfo Water and Sanitation District on their virtual ribbon cutting and the official opening of the Pure Water Las Virgenes – Triunfo Demonstration Facility on Friday, September, 11! This project will take recycled water and advance treat it using the proven technology of ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet light to create a product that is quite literally, an H2O molecule. This project represents the next step toward a reliable and sustainable water future in the region. “By bringing water full circle, this demonstration project provides certainty to our customers, while closing the sustainability loop through reusing recycled water as a drinking water source.” said Jay Lewitt, JPA Board Chair. Read more in the press release.
The Danish Trade Council: Chicago Water Week Digester Optimization and Biogas Utilization
On Monday, September 28, from 8:00 am – 10:00 am, the Danish Trade Council is hosting a webinar as part of Chicago Water Week: Exploit the full WWTP potential: Digester Optimization & Biogas Utilization. Wastewater agencies updating their existing facilities have a great opportunity to look into the optimization potential of their digester and biogas infrastructure in order to potentially generate additional energy and tipping fee revenue from intake of food waste, and be a positive force in addressing climate change through innovate solutions and technologies. The Danish Wastewater sector has undergone a huge transition over the last 25 years. Today, the Danish sector is widely recognized as a global frontrunner known for data-driven automation, resource efficiency and -recovery, biogas utilization and advanced sensor-based biological treatment strategies. CASA’s Greg Kester will provide an overview of co-digestion opportunities and drivers. Register today!
CWEA/CASA: Planning for Fiscal Recovery
On Tuesday, September 29, from 10:00 am – 11:30 am, CASA and CWEA will host a joint webinar on “Planning for Fiscal Recovery - Perspectives for Agency Executives, CFOs and Board Members.” As sanitation agencies continue to adjust to uncertain economic conditions, they must balance the needs of their constituents and the operations of their systems. Should I raise rates or rely on my reserves? Can I give customer rebates and what are the impacts? Can I continue to build my capital program? How do I communicate with my customers? Come hear from industry experts as they discuss financial planning, capital funding and customer impacts. Be sure to register today!
On Wednesday, September 30, from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm, join CASA and CWEA for a COVID-19 Update webinar. For the last five 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 with webinars in October, November, and December respectively, focusing on wastewater based epidemiology developments and other relevant COVID-19 research and initiatives. Be sure to join us for this free webinar series!
EPA Water Research Webinar Series
On Wednesday, September 30, from 11:00am to 12:00pm the EPA is hosting a webinar: SARS CoV-2 in Wastewater Monitoring: Linking Research and Application to Meet Immediate Needs. This webinar is part of their bimonthly series on EPA’s water research and will focus on the following collaborative efforts of EPA’s SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring research team to reduce uncertainties: Method development within the lab, application in sewersheds with distinctive levels of industrial and stormwater impacts–in coordination with the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District, and development of a wastewater surveillance systems in Ohio–in support of the Ohio Department of Health. Check out the flyer and register for this free webinar today!
Women in Water & Power: Working on the Frontlines
On Tuesday, October 6th at 11:00am, CWEA is hosting a webinar: Women in Water & Power: Working on the Frontlines. The one hour webinar discussion will feature four woman who work on the frontlines of California water. The webinar is free and everyone is welcome. This is also a great opportunity for those who are considering a career in the industry! Are the water and power sectors welcoming and supportive of women? Are there opportunities to advance? How do I get into these careers, and where do I start? Is it safe? Do you get dirty? Register for this special event and find out! This webinar is also part of a series to celebrate California Water Professionals Week 2020 (#ThankWaterPros) and is supported by ACWA, AWWEE, BAYWORK, CA-NV AWWA, CWEA and CASA. Check out the panelists and learn more here!
Microplastics Health Effects Webinar Series
The Southern California Coastal Water Research Project (SCCWRP) is hosting a five session webinar series every Monday from October 19 to November 16, during which microplastics experts from around the world will summarize current knowledge and discuss the latest findings regarding microplastics toxicity. Representatives from the State Water Resources Control Board and the Ocean Protection Council will also share their perspectives about how such science will be used in meeting the legislative mandates. This webinar series is open to the public, with the intent of informing the community (e.g., scientists, environmental managers, stakeholders) about the latest scientific developments regarding the potential health effects of microplastics. Learn more and register here.
Oct. 5-6
Oct. 19-22
Oct. 29
Nov. 12, 17, 19
PPIC Water Policy Center Briefings
Nov. 12-13