As everyone gets ready to celebrate the holidays, it is always worthwhile to think about the past year and to look ahead to what may be in store for the clean water community. NACWA is proud that we have played a key role through active collaborations in advancing the implementation of EPA’s 2012 Integrated Planning Framework and in bringing about the November release of the Agency’s Financial Capability Framework. These frameworks, however, are just the beginning and a ramped up focus on regulatory compliance and prioritization, as well as affordability/financial capability, will be at the core of NACWA’s agenda in 2015. NACWA is also pleased that it has played a role in defending strong funding levels for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and in streamlining and improving the SRF program through a series of changes incorporated into the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA).
Despite these successes, there remains little new federal money being put on the holiday dinner table but at the same time, EPA continues its work to “wrap up” a number of costly “gifts” to put under the clean water tree for NACWA member agencies. These include the Waters of the U.S. rule, the mercury in dental amalgam rule, new bacteriophage criterion, ammonia criteria, more stringent nutrient limits, and sewage sludge incinerator requirements. NACWA will seek to make sure, however, that these gifts (also known as unfunded mandates) are based on sound science and do not pose an excessive cost to NACWA member agencies at a time when a growing percentage of households in cities and rural areas across the country can least afford them.
NACWA will look to its member agencies to help develop innovative strategies to deal with this increasingly complex regulatory landscape. How can we expand collaborative efforts to develop low-cost yet high-reward outcomes? What creative programs are utilities using that can serve as models to avoid rate shock and to achieve the greatest bang for the buck? And, of course, what is the appropriate role for the federal government to play as it advances an ever-increasing array of requirements on NACWA member agencies despite its recognition of the growing affordability dilemma? Join us February 1-4, in Charleston, for NACWA’s Winter Conference, Leaving the Comfort Zone… Collaborating for Clean Water to learn more and participate in developing strategic solutions.
And, in the meantime, NACWA wishes all of you a happy holiday season!