The latest legislative updates from regional water quality associations
Wisconsin Association to Host First Capitol Day
Partner, The Capitol Group
Lobbyist, Water Quality Association of Wisconsin
The Wisconsin Legislature convened the 2019 to 2020 legislative session Jan. 7, 2019, with a slightly new cast of characters. Republicans still have a strong majority in the assembly and Senate, but Democrats hold all of the constitutional offices, with Gov. Tony Evers at the helm. The new bipartisan make-up will lead to disagreement on major issues such as school funding, transportation and gun control, but we are hopeful that the two sides can come together on other issues, such as water quality.
Water issues already have been at the forefront of the new legislature with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos creating a Water Quality Task Force after reports of contaminated wells in southwest Wisconsin. Gov. Evers included safe drinking water as a key issue during his campaign and offered a “Safe Water, Safe Kids” proposal that focused on lead issues and included a loan program for well and lead pipe replacements.
Legislation has been introduced that would include a private well testing grant program for rural areas. In addition, the Water Quality Association of Wisconsin (WQAW) has been involved in a rule change through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to modernize and streamline rules related to well construction and sampling, including removing state approvals for products that comply with national standards and eliminating the requirement for written approval prior to installing bacteria treatment on a private well, and replacing it with a requirement for a well compliance inspection.
With water quality issues at the forefront of the Wisconsin Legislature, WQAW will be holding a Capitol Day on April 10 to allow WQAW members to meet with legislators to discuss these important issues. Additional information can be found at www.wqaw.com.
Pacific Focuses on Lead & Environment
Product & Certification Manager, TST Water
President, Pacific Water Quality Assn.
In 2018, the industry closely watched and monitored a number of items. The Pacific Water Quality Assn. (PWQA) assisted in sponsoring SB 981 (Dodd) in California, effectively permitting the sale and installation of water treatment devices without having to first wait for the expiration of the rescission period. The bill as written still makes the seller responsible for any costs in removing the installed water treatment device if the buyer decides so within the defined recession period. PWQA members were integral in the passage of this bill, testifying in legislative policy committees, writing letters of support and helping to overcome any opposition.
In addition to SB 981, there was much activity around the governor’s work pertaining to additional water taxes. Two bills were proposed whereby additional fees were to be collected from California residents and businesses, as well as new fees on agricultural enterprises, farms and dairies. These propositions were met with significant opposition as additional water taxes. In June, to get a deal done on the state budget, the governor and other supporters abandoned the plan, opting instead to allocate $23.5 million for safe drinking water, plus $5 million to get lead out of the water at child care centers.
New regulations pertaining to Proposition 65 disclosure were implemented, updating the safe harbor statement effective August 2018.
Lead remained a significant topic across the country and in legislation. Looking forward into 2019, the Division of Drinking Water, in collaboration with the California Department of Education, has taken the initiative to begin testing for lead in drinking water at all public K-12 schools. Pursuant to California Assembly Bill 746 published on Oct. 12, 2017, effective Jan. 1, 2018, all community water system must test lead levels, by July 1, 2019, in drinking water at all California public K-12 school sites that were constructed before Jan. 1, 2010. Currently, a community water system may request assistance from their public water system to conduct water sampling for lead and receive technical assistance if an elevated lead sample is found.
California’s new governor is working to reintroduce the water tax ideas that were deliberated but failed last year. This program, called a “safe and affordable drinking water fund,” has been included in the new governor’s first budget proposal.
On Nov. 10, 2017, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added PFOA and PFOS to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity for purposes of Proposition 65. Starting July 2019, California businesses will be prohibited from discharging PFOA or PFOS into drinking water sources. OEHHA recommended “interim notification levels” for PFOA and PFOS for use by the State Water Resources Control Board in regulating public water supplies in California that are almost as low as detection limits. Upon the OEHHA’s recommendation, the board adopted notification levels for PFOA of 14 ppt and for PFOS of 13 ppt. For reference, the U.S. EPA has established the health advisory levels at 70 ppt for both PFOA and PFOS. The significance of this is that currently per the EPA this is only a health advisory, which is meant to provide information and is a non-enforceable and non-regulatory classification. As the year unfolds, the anticipation is this will receive much attention across the states.
PWQA looks forward to a successful Legislative Days, scheduled for May 21 and 22 in Sacramento, Calif. Special thanks for our friends at Churchwell White LLP. We also are excited about our 62nd Annual Convention talking place at Pechanga Casino and Resort located in the rolling hills of Temecula, Calif., wine country.
Florida Association Treks to Tallahasee
Kenny Gibson, CWS
President, Absolute Water Management Inc. dba EcoWater Systems
Director, Florida Water Quality Assn.
January 2019 was an exciting legislature visit for the Florida Water Quality Assn. (FWQA).
There was a fresh air of optimism in Tallahassee, Fla., with a new governor and a new legislature being sworn in the day before we arrived.
We were able to schedule 18 meetings with representatives from throughout the state of Florida. We also did a number of unscheduled office drop-ins that were very productive.
With the help of David Loveday of the Water Quality Assn. (WQA); Suzanne Trueblood, FWQA executive secretary; and David Ramba, FWQA lobbyist, the FWQA board of directors was briefed and supplied with a toolkit of talking points and educational materials to support meetings with the state representatives.
The representatives were very open this year to learning about water quality issues.
There is a proposed lead bill, SB66, currently making its way through committees in the capital. Based on our visit, WQA and FWQA will be actively involved with the sponsors of this bill to assist in any way possible.
This proposed legislation focuses on removing any potential lead issues in drinking water at Florida schools. There seems to be a great amount of bipartisan support for this bill.
The staff of the representatives and the representatives themselves were eager to learn about water quality and excited to learn that WQA and FWQA are resources for their districts and constituents. It also opened the door to talk about other water quality issues.
Their enthusiasm energized all of us attending these meetings, demonstrating the importance of consistently advocating at the state level. It reminds one how providing solutions to water quality can positively affect people’s lives.
Ultimately, the goal is to make a living; however it feels really good when you can make a positive impact on someone’s water quality. That cannot be measured by profit and loss. We want to ensure people can have quality drinking water without the fear of potential contaminants.
A big thank you to all participants in our meetings on Jan. 9, 2019. For those who have never had the opportunity to lobby for the industry, please consider it. It is very rewarding, both personally and for the industry.