At AMWA’s April Water Policy Conference, members heard first-hand from government leaders on the nation’s water priorities for 2019. EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross confirmed that chances of a summer release of Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) revisions was “very, very, very high,” and told the conference that EPA’s draft water reuse strategy was expected within the next few weeks.
Jennifer McLain, acting director of EPA’s Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, made news by announcing the agency’s plans to solicit applications for a new grant program to help communities and low-income homeowners replace lead service lines or undertake other initiatives to reduce lead in drinking water. Despite Congress appropriating $25 million for the program over the past two years, EPA had not given any hint as to its plans for the grants. A call for grant applications for two other lead-reduction initiatives was subsequently issued in late April, but solicitation for the service line replacement grants is yet to come. McLain also said EPA’s final lead-free plumbing rule, proposed in January 2017, is expected to be finalized by the end of the year.
David Travers, the director of EPA’s Water Security Division, laid out priorities that included helping utilities comply with the risk and resilience assessments required under America’s Water Infrastructure Act. EPA faces a statutory requirement to provide baseline threat information by August 1, and Travers stated EPA’s intention to voluntarily make a suite of revised compliance resources available by the same deadline.
Brian Harrell, the assistant director for infrastructure protection at the Department of Homeland Security’s newly formed Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, spoke about the importance of information sharing and cooperating outside traditional disciplinary silos. He implored utilities to share incident information with WaterISAC to the strengthen the sector’s ability to defend against ever-increasing threats, noting “ISACs are only as strong as we’re willing to make them.”
Conference presentations are available to members on the AMWA website.