Big Step Forward on NPDES Permit Term Extensions

One of CASA’s highest federal legislative priorities got a big boost recently when two key members of the California Congressional delegation supported extending NPDES permit terms from five years to 10 years. On June 14 Representatives John Garamendi and Alan Lowenthal sent a letter to Committee Chair Bill Shuster and Ranking Member Peter DeFazio in support of a permit term extension as a commonsense approach. It will provide regulatory flexibility while protecting the public’s ability to provide input on permits.

For more than a year CASA has worked with the Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure to help build support for the USEPA and the states’ ability to issue NPDES permits with terms of up to 10 years. The support letter from two Democratic members is a very important step in the right direction. CASA will continue our advocacy by communicating with other California committee members and by reaching out to individual CASA member agencies to communicate their support to their members of Congress. We will also continue to bring more national association support to this issue.

CASA Asks for Major Changes to Draft Recycled Water Policy

At a June 19 hearing, CASA and WateReuse California testified before the State Water Board about several provisions of the proposed recycled water policy that concern our members. These included:

  • A goal to minimize ocean and estuarine discharges. The associations and many of our members asked the board to remove this goal. The policy should emphasize maximizing recycling and reuse of water.
  • Bioanalytical monitoring: We urged the Board to delete the triggers and follow-up actions proposed for this monitoring. These actions are premature and inconsistent with the CEC expert panel report.
  • Wastewater change petitions: Instead of streamlining and clarifying the process to obtain approvals, the proposed policy adds requirements and has the potential to further delay needed approvals.

No action was taken at the informational hearing. CASA and WateReuse CA will submit written comments today.

CASA Weighs in on Intended Use Plan for Clean Water State Revolving Fund

Also on June 19, CASA addressed the State Water Board on the FY 2018-19 Intended Use Plan for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. CASA supported the staff’s proposed approach for the current year including establishing a funding target, fundable list and retroactive reimbursement of construction costs.

The board was also asked to consider a number of program improvements going forward including developing multi-year funding plans for large projects, partial funding for a wider range of projects and developing objective and straightforward prioritization criteria for eligible projects. Read our written comments.

Significant Water Quality Fee Increase Ahead

Each year, the State Water Resources Control Board adopts regulations to establish the water quality fee structure for the fiscal year including fees for NPDES permittees. At a recent stakeholder workshop, staff presented two options for increasing NPDES permit fees for the upcoming fiscal year: a 7 percent or a 14.9 percent increase. The Waste Discharge Requirements program will see a similar fee increase of either 7 percent or 14.7 percent. This is the first time in several years that the NPDES program would experience a significant fee increase. The State Water Board will host another stakeholder meeting about this on Thursday, August 2 from 9 – 11:30 AM. More information.