Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2009 - (Page 46)

Regulatory Update BY ED THOMAS, NRWA AFFORDABILITY BACK IN the spotlight – The EPA has initiated a renewed effort to fi nalize their affordability policy that would allow some utilities to obtain a variance from having to lower contaminant (such as arsenic, radionuclides, etc.) levels below the MCL. The White House inserted language in the EPA FY 2010 budget that requires the Agency to evaluate “equitable treatment of small systems” (in other words, the Agency’s affordability policy). This policy is possibly the most fundamental framework for helping small towns through costly compliance and unaffordable rates for water service. Unfortunately, it appears the Agency is not relying on the NRWA perspective to establish the policy (the NRWA “Small and Rural Community Affordability Consensus Report”). The Agency is expected to issue a fi nal policy by the fall of this year. New EPA sustainability policy – We have been facing this issue for years and defending the accusations that many small systems are not implementing full cost pricing and have poor management making them, what critics say, unsustainable. Fortunately NRWA Treasurer Mel Aust was able to provide valuable input to help the Agency understand the needs of small communities. More specifically, the EPA acknowledged that small systems will need a different model to help struggling utilities understand the fundamentals of sustainability and the implementation strategy. We expect the Agency to have a new policy that may be implemented through the Clean Water and Drinking Water State 46 • Third Quarter 2009 Revolving Loan Funds (SRF) out for public comment by the end of 2009. Carbon sequestration – The Agency is moving closer to a fi nal rule regarding the regulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) sequestration in deep underground aquifers not used for drinking water. (The proposed rule was published on July 25, 2008.) The rule will allow millions of megatons of CO2 (most of which is produced by power generation facilities) to be injected into deep underground wells. Rural water has not taken a formal position on the rule, however, we are encouraging the Agency to ensure the injection will not harm underground sources of drinking water (it is safe) and the liability for any potential future contamination of drinking water sources is not the community’s responsibility. Needs survey – The EPA has completed a study and has made a fi nding that over the next 20 years (2007-2027) small systems (more than 3,300 people) need $60 billion dollars for compliance and to replace drinking water infrastructure. Nationally, $335 billion for infrastructure and compliance is needed. What does this mean? The EPA uses the results of the survey to determine the allocation of the hundreds of millions of annual Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds (DWSRF) dollars to the states and tribes that can be used for grants and loans to utilities. The fi rst report released in 1999 estimated a national need of $138 billion. 10 years later, the need has well over doubled. It is likely the need has drastically increased due to compliance with the multitude of new EPA regulations that have been fi nalized in response to the 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act and deteriorating infrastructure. Chemical security – The U.S. Congress is pushing closer to a new law that regulates security, emergency response and chemical security (e.g. gaseous chlorine, potassium permanganate, etc.). Unfortunately, it is not simple – three different committees have drafted legislation that would regulate water and wastewater utilities. Each bill has slightly different purposes and regulatory oversight. One bill only regulates water utilities, with the U.S. EPA having regulatory authority. The second bill only regulates wastewater utilities, with The EPA has completed a study and has made a finding that over the next 20 years (20072027) small systems (more than 3,300 people) need $60 billion dollars for compliance and to replace drinking water infrastructure. Nationally, $335 billion for infrastructure and compliance is needed.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2009

Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2009
Contents
From the President
Emergency Response is More Than Just a Plan
December 3, 2007: A Flood to Remember
Rural Water Experts Certified at Emergency Response Training
Wastwater System Recovery Aided by Missouri Rural Water Association
USDA's Rural Water Initiatives - A Grand Enterprise
Regulatory Update
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers
Advertisers.com
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 3, 2009

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