News Digest - April 12, 2019

Comments on the EPA’s proposed revision to the Clean Water Rule closed on April 15. The new rule would modify the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, and cede federal jurisdiction over certain ephemeral, artificial, or isolated bodies of surface water.

Two bills have been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives to address PFAS spills and related effects on public health. The PFAS Registry Act would create a national database for service members and veterans experiencing health problems due to contamination from PFAS. The VET PFAS Act would require the VA to cover the cost of treatment for health conditions associated with PFAS exposure.

New Mexico State University will host the Two Nations, One Water conference on April 23 through 25 in Las Cruces. Ed Archuleta from the University of Texas at El Paso will present on desalination, one of many topics to be covered over the duration of the conference.

Federal prosecutors charged former Hidalgo County Commissioner A.C. Cuellar, among others, with involvement in a wide-ranging pay to play scheme that saw some $50 million in municipal contracts. A.C. Cuellar and former Weslaco City Commissioner John Cuellar (no relation) were charged with conspiracy to commit honest wire fraud. The projects to be awarded through the scheme included the City of Weslaco’s Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Friends of Blue Hole, a Hays County non-profit, has offered the City of Wimberley an $823,000 grant for the construction of a city-owned wastewater treatment plant. City officials are looking to contract with Aqua Texas to supply wastewater services through a privately-owned plant, requiring a controversial sewage pipeline to be laid underneath Cypress Creek. City Council elections are in May.

New Mexico’s Legislature has also been hard at work developing new rules for treatment and discharge of produced water. Oil and gas extraction generated over 40 billion gallons of produced water last year, more than the City of Albuquerque uses in a year

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