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August 17, 2010

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Government Relations

EPA to Hold Listening Sessions on Potential Revisions to Water Quality Standards Regulation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold two public listening sessions on potential changes to the water quality standards regulation before proposing a national rule. The current regulation, which has been in place since 1983, governs how states and authorized tribes adopt standards under the Clean Water Act to protect the quality of their rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries. Potential revisions include strengthening protection for water bodies with water quality that already exceeds or meets the interim goals of the Clean Water Act; ensuring that standards reflect a continued commitment to these goals wherever attainable; improving transparency of regulatory decisions; and strengthening federal oversight.

Water quality standards are the foundation of the water quality-based approach to pollution control, including Total Maximum Daily Loads and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. Standards are also a fundamental component of watershed management.

The public listening sessions will be held via audio teleconferences on August 24 and 26, 2010, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. EDT. At the sessions, the EPA will provide a review of the current regulation and a summary of the revisions the agency is considering. Clarifying questions and brief oral comments (three minutes or less) from the public will be accepted at the sessions, as time permits. The EPA will consider the comments received as it develops the proposed rulemaking.

The EPA will also hold separate listening sessions for state, tribal and local governments.

The EPA expects to publish the proposed revisions to the water quality standards regulation in the summer of 2011.

Please click here for more information.


Congress Leaves for Recess

Congress has left town for August recess and will return for business on September 13. Many NAWC members will be connecting with their Senators and Congresspersons in their districts during this time to talk about the local water solutions they are providing throughout the country. Some members will be offering facility tours to elected officials to showcase and answer questions about their state-of-the art water provision operations.

On the water-related legislative front, elected leaders are likely to continue to hear a lot about the importance of passing two important water bills. The bill, S.3262, that would remove funding restrictions on tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds is still awaiting passage in the Senate. This proposal’s low-cost and creative approach to tapping private capital for water infrastructure investment projects continues to be an appealing measure to encourage investment in water projects that would sustain jobs and create small business opportunities. “The bill really is a win-win; each and every water project undertaken as a result of its ultimate passage will be vital to maintaining and protecting public health and the environment,” said Michael Deane, executive director of NAWC.

The Senate reauthorization of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act, S.1005, is similarly awaiting Senate passage. This legislation would improve upon the already successful State Revolving Loan Funds.