News Digest - May 8, 2020

Haven't read enough about County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund? JD Supra has an extensive analysis of Justice Breyer's majority opinion for the court, and predicts extensive future litigation involving relevant sections of the Clean Water Act not touched upon by the Justices in this particular case. The Talking Under Water podcast has recorded "a special stay-at-home episode...[providing] an overview of The County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund Supreme Court case and its potentially far reaching impacts on the water and wastewater industry."

Bipartisan votes in the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee added an amendment to the Drinking Water Infrastructure Act of 2020 that would authorize the EPA to "develop a national drinking water standard for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)." The committee rejected a second amendment that would have given certain Western states more authority over their water supplies, at the expense of their downstream neighbors. "The two bills...would authorize a total of $18 billion in water resource development projects across the country." The bill's timeline for passage is uncertain given the impact of social distancing protocols on the Senate's operation, and will have be passed by the House of Representatives before it becomes law.

The Water Environment Federation announced on Monday that WEFTEC, their yearly flagship conference, will occur as scheduled from October 3 to 7, 2020. Whether it will be an in-person, or fully virtual conference, remains to be determined. WEF also announced the convening of a Blue Ribbon Panel "to Evaluate Biological Hazards and Precautions for Wastewater Workers.

Property owners on the former Lake Dunlap will take a proposed water control improvement district (WCID) to voters in November. If approved, the district will be authorized to tax residents in order to finance a replacement for the dam that failed last year and drained the lake, situated on the Guadalupe River near New Braunfels. With preliminary approval to "enter into a contract with the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority for replacement of failed and failing spill gates at the dam that forms Lake Dunlap," the WCID has engaged Black & Veatch for the design phase of the project, and hopes to present an estimate of the replacement cost to voters before election day, November 3.

Operators at El Paso's Montwood Lift Station spent 22 hours of the weekend of April 24-26 removing wipes and other waste from the station's wastewater pumps. Don't. Flush. Wipes.

Operators at Vail and Aspen, Colorado's Wastewater Treatment Plants have been forced to rework the biological systems essential to the treatment process, as wastewater flows have dropped dramatically in the absence of vacationing skiiers. Resorts closed on March 17, and two days later "flows into Aspen’s wastewater treatment plant were 935,000 gallons a day, down from 1.4 million gallons a day the week before and from 1.5 million gallons a day on the same day in 2019."

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