WEF Needs YOU to be a Water Advocate!

WE are the experts.  

Let’s speak with a loud, united voice. Speak up. Share your knowledge. It is more important now than ever. Inform government decision-makers and the public about the importance of water. 

Aging infrastructure, strict requirements, and continued economic pressures have put unprecedented stress on local governments and agencies that provide essential water services. Elected officials are being called upon to make tough choices that will impact water quality and the viability of our communities for generations to come.

We know there is a better path—a path that leads to public appreciation for the value of water, investment in our essential water infrastructure, and a better quality of life for our states and communities.

WEF’s Water Advocates Program is a simple and effective way for you to become more involved with engaging elected officials and the public on important water issues. The Water Advocates Program provides training and engagement to promote grassroots advocacy before elected officials and the public with the goal of creating a network of trained water advocates in every state.

Email Amy Kathman to join the Water Advocates program:  [email protected] 

Include your name, title, organization, address, e-mail, and telephone number. After you sign up, you will be in the Water Advocates program and receive important announcements about actions you can take to help.

Water needs YOUR voice. Sign up to be a Water Advocate.

Log on to the WEFCOM community titled "Water Advocates" and join the community.

Support Including Water Infrastructure Funding in Coronavirus Relief Package

Please reach out to your Members of Congress and ask that funding for water infrastructure be included in the coronavirus relief package.

Specifically, Congress should provide assistance in three specific areas:

  • $4 billion to help low-income and unemployed ratepayers during the coronavirus crisis;
  • $26 billion in aid to drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities for steep revenue losses from commercial and industrial clients, and;
  • At least $73 billion in assistance for water infrastructure construction to help stimulate the economy as the nation recovers from the crisis.

The COVID‐19 pandemic underscores the critical importance of clean, safe water in ensuring proper sanitation and hygiene to protect public health. Families, businesses, hospitals and first responders around the country are counting on drinking water and clean water agencies to help save lives and keep people healthy. Utilities are working around the clock to ensure customers have safe and reliable water services while keeping their own essential workforce safe.

The drinking water and clean water sectors are facing major losses in revenue and significant costs for maintaining services to low income and financially vulnerable households during the pandemic. The sector is committed to providing service to all households during the pandemic regardless of ability to pay. But this does not come without cost—and as revenues fall, utilities may face hard decisions regarding how to address shortfalls including potentially delaying planned water infrastructure investments, impacts to staffing, and facing new pressures to raise rates at a time many households can ill‐afford rate increases. As Congress responds to the COVID‐19 crisis, significant funding should be allocated to help offset revenue losses by water and wastewater utilities and to support the continuation of services to all users.

As Congress develops a comprehensive proposal, we urge we must urge them to remember that water infrastructure is often co-located with transportation infrastructure, such as roadways and bridges. When roadways are dug up or bridges rebuilt, it would be less expensive to rehabilitate water lines at that point in time instead of digging them up again. In addition, the cost of water service to low-income customers is an increasing concern and the U.S. federal contributions to water infrastructure finance help local utilities cushion the costs of water service to customers.

Cost-effective infrastructure repair and replacement can have an enormous impact on the quality of life for communities across the U.S., as well as give our nation business and economic advantages in the global marketplace. This in turn, can help our country as we work to combat the coronavirus itself and the damage it may leave behind.

Please click below to reach out to your Members today!

Support Including Water Infrastructure Funding in the Coronavirus Relief Package

Support H.R. 1764 to Extend NPDES Permit Terms

Please encourage your House Member to support H.R. 1764, introduced by Representative John Garamendi.  

H.R. 1764 would authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or a delegated state under the Clean Water Act to issue a municipal clean water agency a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from five to 10 years. This change would support enhanced planning and efficient permitting of local water quality programs, and give utilities the time needed to design, plan and construct necessary treatment facilities and to comply with existing regulatory requirements before imposition of new mandates.

When the Clean Water Act was adopted in 1972, Congress authorized USEPA, or a delegated state, to grant waste discharge permits for a period of no more than five years. At the time, this timeframe for renewal was tailored for the demands of that period and to ensure significant progress toward basic water quality improvements. However, much has changed over the past 45 years.

Click on the link below to learn more about this issue and to reach out to your House Member today!

Support H.R. 1764 today!

Support the Wastewater Treatment and Efficiency Act

Please encourage your Members of Congress to support S. 3046 - The Wastewater Treatment and Efficiency (WET) Act today!

If passed, S. 3046 will provide essential funding and technical resources to assist Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs) capture and use the considerable energy available in municipal wastewater. S. 3046 will support our nation’s critical sustainability goals to reduce fossil fuels usage and recover resources.

The WET Act requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a Water and Energy Efficiency Program. Under the program, the DOE will award grants to certain small public wastewater treatment facilities that serve disadvantaged communities or populations that do not exceed 10,000. The facilities must use the grants to conduct energy efficiency audits of the facilities and update equipment based on the audits, such as install anaerobic digesters to generate biogas to be used to power wastewater treatment operations.

In addition, DOE will have the authority to provide loan guarantees to eligible municipalities and Indian tribes for (1) projects that convert waste in the treatment process of wastewater treatment facilities into renewable fuels, biosolids, or other byproducts; and (2) projects that will assist in transitioning facilities towards the use of energy-efficient technologies. After being introduced in mid-December by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), S. 3046 was sent to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where it awaits consideration.

Ask your Members right away to join with you to achieve meaningful progress in resource recovery from municipal wastewater!

SUPPORT THE WET ACT!

 

PFAS Provision in the NDAA -- Thank you for your help!

UPDATE - 12/19/19:

This week, President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law and neither of the concerning amendments (see below) was included in the bill.  WEF would like to thank our Water Advocates and other WEF members for your amazing outreach to the U.S. Congress on this issue.  Over 1,000 letters were sent by WEF members and we are certain that helped make a difference.  

Look for more PFAS outreach requests in the new year!  We will still need your help, but are so grateful for all you did to make 2019 a successful year!

UPDATE - 11/13/19:

On November 13, the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee Adam Smith (D-WA) said that lawmakers in both Chambers of Congress and on both sides of the aisle negotiating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) had largely resolved their differences over which PFAS provisions would remain in the final bill.  However he did not provide specifics other than to say that the provision regarding whether or not to add these chemicals to the EPA’s hazardous substances list had still not been fully resolved.

PREVIOUS UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who contacted Congress in opposition to the Dingell PFAS amendment and the Pappas PFAS amendment. Unfortunately, both amendments were accepted by voice vote and are now part of the House National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2500). However, neither one is a part of the Senate version (S. 1790) and we are now asking our members to reach out your Members in both the House and Senate and request that the Armed Services Conference Committee to not include either the Dingell or Pappas amendment language in the final version of the bill. WEF staff is currently working closely with Congress and other water associations to either remove the amendments or make changes to the final bill to protect wastewater and drinking water utilities. But it’s critical that Members of Congress hear from their constituents that the Dingell and Pappas amendments will unfairly burden utilities and changes must be made!

Background

In recent months the issue of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water has become an area of interest on Capitol Hill and many states. PFAS are a class of roughly 5,000 man-made chemicals of which only a handful have been studied. PFAS chemicals are used in a wide array of consumer products such as non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, and water-repellent clothes. These chemicals may not breakdown in the natural environment and can be inhaled, consumed, or absorbed by humans. Some PFAS chemicals are toxic at levels of a few drops in an Olympic size swimming pool.

The Senate incorporated a number of PFAS requirements in S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It would mandate that EPA issue national regulations for two PFAS compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) within two years of enactment. It has a number of other mandates related to drinking and wastewater water as well, but avoided including PFAS regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) or CERCLA law, a.k.a. Superfund which are now a part of the House bill.

Specifically, the amendment by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) would mandate additional PFAS regulation for water under CERCLA. This has the potential to be very problematic for wastewater utilities. Biosolid management in particular could be made subject to the Superfund law, which could place PFAS remediation costs on utilities and ratepayers. PFAS industrial producers and industrial users should be responsible for remediating it in our environment, but CERCLA’s strict and retroactive liability requirements could place the burden on PFAS “receivers”, such as wastewater and drinking water agencies.

Additionally, amendment by Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) would mandate the EPA to develop effluent standards and pretreatment standards for PFAS under the Clean Water Act by Jan. 1, 2022. With limited research into the health effects of the 5,000 PFAS compounds and no established analytical methods and treatment methods for wastewater effluent, this amendment is bad policy. 

Furthermore, congressional committee staff have determined under the Rep. Pappas amendment the CERCLA law would also be triggered because PFAS would be designated a hazardous substance under the CWA.

Look for a new PFAS Outreach Letter in soon!

 

 

 

Testimonials

"It is exciting to be a part of what WEF’s Water Advocates Program can do through grassroots efforts concerning water policy in the legislative and regulatory arenas. It is more critical that our elected officials hear from their constituents on water matters to understand how policies could affect, positively or negatively, the utilities in their home state."

“Mobilization of member associations as water advocates is a powerful tool that WEF can empower to promote good water policy that protects public health and the environment and is fiscally the right thing for our water and wastewater utilities.”

Scott Cummings
CH2M Hill
WEF House of Delegates
Alabama WEA Government Affairs Committee Chair
Past Member of WEF Board of Trustees
Past Alabama WEA President

•••

“It is necessary and effective for NYWEA and WEF members to advocate for our environmental causes in Washington. It is critical that elected officials hear our voices so that they will support our nation’s need for increased funding for clean water projects.”

Steven A. Fangmann, P.E.
D&B Engineers and Architects, P.C.
President, New York Water Environment Association

•••

“The water advocacy grassroots effort works! Your representatives at the local, state, and federal level need and want to hear from us—about the issues our industry faces and solutions that will help resolve them. The more the message is heard, the more the problems are understood and, therefore, the more willing they become to work together to help make change by way of legislation.”

Douglas P. Clark
WPC Superintendent, City of Bowling Green, Ohio
WEF House of Delegate, Ohio WEA Government Affairs
Committee Vice Chair—Legislative Affairs

WEF Government Affairs Committee

The Committee shall provide direction and leadership on the formation of government environmental policies, interaction with WEF members and MAs on these policies, and implementation of sound environmental policies.

Visit the Government Affairs Committee page for more information!

Apply for membership: Committee Membership Application

Email WEF's Government Affairs Manager Amy Kathman with any questions: [email protected]  

View the Government Affairs Committee Org. Chart

More WEF Advocacy Programs

WEF pursues many different advocacy and outreach through several programs aimed at various audiences. Explore these opportunties via the links below.