NUCA Political Insiders Report October 15, 2019
CWC Supports Water Legislation Prior to House Mark Up: NUCA is in the process of re-energizing the Clean Water Council (CWC), a diverse coalition of construction contractors, manufacturers, distributors, service providers, and labor unions working to increase financing for badly-needed improvements to America’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Our environmental infrastructure provides Americans with safe drinking water, protects our nation’s waterways, beaches, and other recreational opportunities, and helps provide the resources needed to keep our economy moving. Taken together, well-functioning water infrastructure is indispensable to the health of our country.
Rapidly aging wastewater systems and the lack of a sustainable revenue source, along with rising costs of compliance with environmental standards, present local communities with ever-increasing challenges in providing infrastructure improvements. At the same time, the federal government has contributed a decreasing share of the total funding provided for water and wastewater infrastructure. The CWC was established decades ago to address this growing problem.
Late last month, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee held a hearing entitled “The Administration’s Priorities and Policy Initiatives Under the Clean Water Act (CWA)”, where the committee discussed a range of issues related to the statute. Topics included the recent rollback by the Trump Administration of the contentious, Obama-era “Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS)” regulation, water contamination, and the need to address wastewater infrastructure needs.
In what he referred to as an “infrastructure crisis,” T&I Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) indicated that the “EPA estimates that some $270 billion in infrastructure investment is needed over the next 20 years – and that is just to get our country’s current wastewater infrastructure into good shape.” Hundreds of billions more are estimated to address the nation’s drinking water infrastructure needs.
DeFazio went on to point out that “[d]espite these demonstrated needs, the Trump administration proposed massive cuts to the primary water infrastructure investment program – the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program (CW SRF) – asking for barely $1 billion for fiscal year 2020. That is a ridiculously low amount given the need.” Soon after this hearing, NUCA visited with top staff of the House T&I Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, who reported that legislation to authorize $15 billion for the CW SRF would soon be considered.
The CWC is reacting quickly by sending a letter of support for the measure. The CWC will soon discuss this bill and other water infrastructure issues with T&I committee staff about ways the coalition can support this bill and others that would increase public funding and other financing options for this critical infrastructure.
EEIA Supports New CWA Rules Proposed by EPA: As previously reported, NUCA is working as a member of the Energy Equipment and Infrastructure Alliance (EEIA) effort intended to clarify authority provided to states under CWA Section 401 (CWA 401), which allows states to determine whether any discharges from energy projects are in compliance with state water quality standards. Problems have surfaced in several states, where CWA 401 has become a way to delay or otherwise obstruct the development of natural gas and oil pipeline projects.
On October 8th, EEIA sent a letter (https://www.nuca.com/files/EPA-401-Sign-on-Letter-FINAL.pdf) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing support for the agency’s recent proposal to provide clarity, consistency and regulatory certainty in the process for state and tribal execution of their CWA 401 authority. The proposed rule would establish standards for timely reviews of applications, ensure the focus of their review is on areas intended by the CWA, and set clear and consistent standards for implementation. EEIA maintains this clarification would better ensure effective protection of our water resources.
“In the absence of definitive boundaries, some states have taken advantage of ambiguity in Section 401 to deny certification on grounds outside the Section’s purposes and intent,” according to the EEIA letter. “This has resulted in delay or cancellation of vitally needed energy infrastructure projects that would otherwise have provided consumers and our environment the tremendous benefits of increased access to affordable clean energy.”
Obstruction of certification of energy infrastructure projects on grounds other than intended by the CWA has resulted in “large-scale loss of work, stranded investments in equipment and materials, and inability of our businesses and workforce to plan for efficient deployment and utilization of both human and capital assets,” according to EEIA. Representing part of the “supply chain” of the energy production and transportation industry, NUCA was pleased to sign onto this letter.
NUCA 2020 Washington Summit: If you are going to our 2020 Convention & Exhibit in Tucson, Arizona in late February, please plan on attending our Advocacy educational session where the latest news from Washington affecting your business will be discussed. More details about this Convention advocacy session will be released by the end of the year.
And for those who want to actively participate in the NUCA government affairs program next year, plan on traveling to the Nation’s Capital for NUCA’s 2020 Washington Summit, now scheduled for May 19-21, 2020. Save the date, and expect more details about our annual advocacy fly-in program in the months ahead. 2020 is an election year for Congress and the Presidency, so there will be much to discuss about the future of infrastructure legislation and environmental regulations.
Remember to pass this issue of Political Insider along to others at your company who would be interested in knowing about the association’s work in Washington, D.C. to improve your business’s environment.
DC Water CEO David L. Gadis today encouraged every District resident to check if the pipe connecting their home to the city water supply is lead, and if it is made of lead to learn more about new opportunities for replacing it with safer copper pipe.
The push to replace lead service lines comes as historic legislation approved by the Mayor and D.C. Council last year goes into effect beginning today. It provides free or discounted plumbing services to District residents who replace lead pipes and should dramatically increase the pace of lead service replacements.
Every property owner regardless of income can now replace their lead pipes for free when DC Water conducts water main replacements or emergency repairs. Residents do not need to apply for this discount, and will be contacted by DC Water in advance of these projects.
Separately, generous assistance is now available for more than ten thousand customers who have lead pipes on private property, but non-lead pipes in public space. In these cases, every property owner can replace their lead pipes at a 50% discount, and some will qualify for 80% or 100% discounts depending on household size and income. Eligibility for these discounts is determined by the DC Department of Energy and Environment and residents can apply for the program at doee.dc.gov.
“No other bill in the last generation has provided such an opportunity to District residents,” said Mr. Gadis. “Everyone who owns a home in the District should know if they have lead pipes, and work with us to get the lead out.
Customers can view a list of known qualifying properties here, or reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and 202-787-4044, then visit doee.dc.gov/service/leadlinereplacement or call 311 to apply for discounted replacements.
Under current law, DC Water is permitted to replace the portion of the lead water service line that lays buried within public space but not the portion that is on private property – the pipe that runs from the property line to the building. Water mains in DC Water’s distribution system are not made of lead. However there remain roughly 70 miles of lead service lines spread across the District, mostly in older neighborhoods. Larger apartment buildings and condo buildings typically do not have lead service lines due to the larger size of pipe required to supply water.
Gadis noted that he wants all lead service lines in the city replaced within the next 10 years: “It’s ambitious but it’s achievable if we roll up our sleeves and work together,” Mr. Gadis said.
In addition to establishing assistance programs to help residents remove lead pipes, the new law requires landlords and home sellers to disclose the existence of lead pipes on residential properties, and the results of any past lead testing.
The law originated with Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau, who last year introduced legislation to help DC Water customers afford the cost of their lead service replacements. The Bill was then revised by Council Transportation & Environment Committee Chairperson Mary Cheh of Ward 3 and approved unanimously.
More information about the issue of lead, tips to reduce risk of lead exposure, and information about the law can be found at dcwater.com/lead.
LB Water Team a Top Fundraiser for Ta-Ta Trot
Employees from Selinsgrove-headquartered company in the top three of most money raised
SELINSGROVE, Pa. – The fundraising efforts of a group of employees from Selinsgrove-based LB Water Service Inc., an industry leader in supplying waterworks infrastructure solutions to cities, counties, municipalities and businesses throughout the mid-Atlantic region, were among the top of participating groups in the 10th Annual Ta-Ta Trot in Selinsgrove.
Through the contributions of its passionate employees, the company raised a total of $405 for this year’s event. LB Water also served as one of the event’s Silver sponsors.
The annual event, which is held in July, included an opening ceremony, a 5K trot and a prize ceremony. In total, trotters raised more than $4,500, which was donated to Evangelical Community Hospital’s Thyra M. Humphreys Center for Breast Health, Geisinger Health System’s Marie Lamey Fund, PA Breast Cancer Coalition or the Penn State Cancer Institute.
“I’m so honored to work for a company that understands the importance of breast cancer awareness,” said Jolene Dreese, an LB Water employee and one of the company’s Ta-Ta Trotters. “Breast cancer is taking our loved ones from us at an alarming rate, so to play even a small role in raising money for awareness means a lot to me.”
Dreese received a breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 44 in 2001 and was able to overcome the disease in part because of early detection. Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky.
A close friend of Dreese’s lost her battle to breast cancer at the age of 42, leaving behind a 5-year-old child—a reminder that cancer does not discriminate by age.
Since its inaugural event in 2009, the Selinsgrove Ta-Ta Trot has raised more than $400,000 for breast cancer awareness, an amount Dreese hopes will continue to grow in the coming years.
A member of LB Water’s Finance department, Dreese said her organizational goal for the 2020 Ta-Ta Trot is to raise a total of $2,020 and to add to the number of company employees who participate.
“I thank God for getting me through my bout with breast cancer and allowing my case to be the type that can be fought and conquered,” she added. “That’s not always the case, but if we keep doing events around the country like the Ta-Ta Trot right here in Selinsgrove, I believe we will eventually find a cure.”
“Many of us have been impacted by breast cancer in some way,” said Shawn Pulford, President and CEO, LB Water. “As an organization that takes pride in calling Selinsgrove home, we think it’s important to continue being active within our community and to identify causes that our employees are passionate about. I couldn’t be prouder of our Ta-Ta Trotters.”
About LB Water
LB Water is a solutions-based provider of waterworks-infrastructure products to cities, counties, municipalities, private water and sewer authorities, and contractors throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Its products include water-metering technologies, water infrastructure, sanitary and storm sewer systems, specialty products, and environmental solutions. It is a 100-percent, employee-owned organization. Founded in 1970 by Lehman B. Mengel, the company employs 200+ people at eight locations in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. Visit www.lbh2o.com to learn more.