OW Kicks off Regulatory Reform Agenda
EPA kicked off the public participation process related to EO 13777, Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda, this week. In February, the President issued EO 13777 which is designed to reduce the regulatory burdens agencies place on regulated entities and directs agencies to undertake several activities to further this goal. The first step requires the designation of a Regulatory Reform Officer and the establishment of a Regulatory Reform Task Force, charged with evaluating existing regulations and making recommendations to the Administrator regarding those that can be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome. The EO also requires that the Task Force seek input from entities significantly affected by our regulations, including state, local and tribal governments, small businesses, consumers, non-governmental organizations and trade associations.
Consistent with the EO, the Office of Water held a public session kicking off the regulatory reform process. ACWA offered a set of high-level principles to guide EPA as it implements the EO: (1) Jointly prioritize regulatory review actions with state water quality programs; (2) Go slowly and proceed with caution; (3) Preserve or enhance flexibility for states to implement CWA; (4) Streamline processes and eliminate duplicative requirements; (5) Rely on sound science to guide decisions; (6) No backsliding; and (7) Limit unfunded mandates. EPA heard from a wide variety of stakeholders on today’s outreach webinar and participants in the comment session were selected at random. The EPA will make a transcript of the call available on the docket in approximately 7-10 so you can see the comments that were given. EPA is seeking public input on existing regulations that could be repealed, replaced or modified to make them less burdensome. The docket will be open for submitting recommendations until May 15, 2017. The docket is available at EPA-HQ-OA-2017-0190 at Regulations.gov.
WIFIA program received 43 letters of interest
Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program received 43 letters of interest from prospective borrowers for projects to update our nation’s water infrastructure. In this round, EPA will make available the up to $17 million of budget authority appropriated to provide approximately $1 billion in credit assistance. Prospective borrowers requested more than $6 billion in credit assistance to support over $12 billion in total infrastructure investment. Under the program, EPA will begin notifying state revolving loan programs of the prospective projects so that the state SRFs can decide whether to they want to fund the project under the SRF. EPA issued a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) on January 2017, to solicit letters of interest from prospective borrowers seeking WIFIA credit assistance. About a third of prospective borrowers indicated they plan to co-finance their projects with other funding tools available through EPA, the Drinking Water or the Clean Water State Revolving Funds. WIFIA works separately from, but in coordination with, the State Revolving Fund programs to provide subsidized financing for large dollar-value projects. By combining the benefits of the WIFIA and SRF programs, more communities can benefit from innovative loans and financing. You can learn more about the WIFIA program: https://www.epa.gov/wifia
Budget Bill Passes Congress
The omnibus budget bill passed the House on May 3rd, 2017 and the Senate on the following day. President Trump is expected to sign it. The EPA’s budget decreased by 1% from FY16 levels. State Revolving Funds, Section 106 funding, and regional programs stayed level with FY16 funding. Section 319 funds were increased by $6 million.
ACWA 2017 Water Quality Trading Workshop
On June 27, 2017, ACWA is hosting a Workshop in Washington, DC on water quality trading. The Workshop will be a venue for face-to-face information sharing between the states with various levels of involvement in water quality trading, including states with robust programs, states in the process of starting programs, and states looking to learn more about trading. The goal of the Workshop is to establish open lines of communication between practitioners nationwide. For more information, contact Mark Patrick McGuire.
NEIWPCC Webinar on Ag Collaboration
On Tuesday, May 2, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) held a webinar as part of its 303(d)/TMDL National Webinar Series entitled, Coordinating with Agricultural Partners across Clean Water Act Programs. The webinar provided an overview of the National Nonpoint Source Program engagement with the agriculture community while highlighting several case studies of successful interaction between state nonpoint source programs and agriculture community and ways to engage the 303(d) Impaired Water Listing and TMDL Program. NEIWPCC will post a recording of the webinar in the near future here.
Watersheds Committee Call
On 4/30, the ACWA held a call featuring a presentation from EPA’s Doug Norton where he discussed EPA’s recently completed Preliminary Healthy Watersheds Assessments (PHMA), the tools accompanying them provided to state TMDL and Nonpoint Source program managers, and how particular states can use them. As a unique set of tools designed to evaluate non-impaired watershed quality and vulnerability within individual states, PHMA is very much a new and interesting resource for state staff to be aware of. For more information or for a copy of the slides, contact Julian Gonzalez.