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SOURCE - Spring 2013

drips & droplets The Challenging Landscape of the Safe Drinking Water Act (As Seen in Early 2013) Iam beginning to identify some of the challenges of preparing a quarterly column three months before it is published. I prepared my first column just before the 2012 election, and everyone who reads Source saw my column about one week after President Obama took his oath of office for the second time. So now we know that we have a President who wants to keep the Environmental Protection Agency and hence will sustain and enhance drinking water regulations that impact our profession. A current uncertainty faced by water suppliers in California (during the three months between when I write this and when you read it) includes whether the California Legislature will transfer the duties and responsibilities for the California Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). Similar legislation, AB145, introduced by Assembly Members Henry Perea (D-31) and Anthony Rendon (D-63), and SB117 introduced by Senator Michael Rubio (D-16) in January 2013, would transfer the California SDWA duties and responsibilities, including research, adoption of regulations, and enforcement of the federal SDWA to SWRCB. Along the rumor mill, one theory is that the proposed legislation is intended to expedite release of State Revolving Fund (SRF) money. There is also a possibly that these duties and responsibilities could be transferred to some other state agency, such as Cal EPA. The proposed changes would likely have a significant impact on the drinking water program as well as on the dedicated engineers, scientists, and staff who manage and 8 SOURCE spring 2013 operate CDPH programs. The drinking water program has been a responsibility of the Department of Public Health for nearly 100 years. Discussions within the Section’s leadership regarding the proposed legislation are on-going. These discussions indicate that to date (8  February) very little (if any) input has been provided by water suppliers regarding the proposed legislation. It appears that at least one legislative committee which reviewed one of the proposed bills recommended it be amended before it receives further consideration. I  hope that by the time you read this, you will have had an opportunity to discuss the proposed legislation with your water agency colleagues and also with your assembly person and state senator, and that we will know where this proposed legislation is headed. Editor’s Note: Since this column was submitted, Senator Michael Rubio resigned from his seat to take a position with Chevron; however, SB117 could proceed with a different author. Also, the CA-NV AWWA Executive Committee voted to “oppose unless amended” AB145. A letter to the authors is posted on the Legislation page at www.ca-nv-awwa.org. Although as SDWA Committee Chair, my focus is on SDWA issues, discussions with the staff of a number of California water suppliers indicate that the Clean Water Act and its associated regulations administered by the California SWRCB and its Regional Water Quality Control Boards has had and will continue to have an increased impact on water treatment facilities and water distribution systems. On-going requirements developed by some RWQCBs will impact water systems when pipelines fail, hydrants are damaged, and/or other events occur that result in potable water releases. The anticipated requirements will impact emergency and unplanned potable water releases as well as “highly-chlorinated water” releases (chlorine concentration greater than 25 mg/L ). Based on a discussion about the proposed regulations with Joe Guistino, Operations Superintendent at Coastside County Water District, the regulations are expected to include additional monitoring requirements as well as needing to implement BMPs to control off site discharge impacts. The new requirements are anticipated to be particularly challenging for small water suppliers (with fewer resources than large water suppliers) to meet. At the federal level, USEPA has been busy, having finalized the Revised Total Coliform Rule in December 2012, and issued an “interpretative memorandum” permitting electronic delivery of Consumer Confidence Reports in January 2013. (See page 13). EPA also anticipates proposing four regulations later this year, including its Third Contaminant Candidate List (CCL3), Long-Term Lead and Copper Rule (LT-LCR), Carcinogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (cVOCs) and possibly a perchlorate regulation. Some or all of these new regulations will likely impact water suppliers in California and Nevada between 2016 and the end of the decade. S Craig Thompson, P.E., BCEE, is AWWA CA-NV Section SDWA Committee Chair. He is a 26-year veteran of Kennedy/Jenks Consultants in the San Francisco office, where he is a Principal Engineer specializing in water quality issues, water treatment plant design and operational support.  By Craig Thompson


SOURCE - Spring 2013
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