NEWS WORTH NOTING: Now available: “California Water,” Third Edition: The definitive guide to the state’s most valuable natural resource; EPA signs MOU with FEMA re: recovery of water infrastructure; EPA issues memo to increase the agency’s compliance with Clean Water Act deadlines

NOW AVAILABLE: “California Water,” Third Edition: The Definitive Guide to the State’s Most Valuable Natural Resource

From Best Best & Kreiger:

It’s easy to feel like you are drowning while covering California water issues. Yet, as a reporter, readers rely on you to turn complex developments on everything from quantity to quality into a readable and informative story.

Reporters, water suppliers, farmers, environmentalists, lawyers, planners and engineers have relied on “California Water” as a guide to all things water since 1995 — when the first edition by Best Best & Krieger LLP water law partners Eric Garner and Arthur Littleworth was published.

Now, in a third edition, Garner has thoroughly updated the well-loved guide to historical, legal and policy issues affecting water use in California. This concise and accessible water law book covers new and emerging topics, including the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, climate change and conservation. It features new maps that tell the story of California’s major water supply systems with compelling visuals. Recognizing the critical developments and challenges facing the State, the book also includes enhanced discussion on water quality.

California’s relationship with water is incredibly complex and ever-changing. “California Water” traces the evolution of California’s water law through the State’s changing priorities, from agricultural to urban to environmental to conservation. As Garner acknowledges in his preface, the current era of water law and policy may be the most challenging we’ve faced. Despite this, technological innovation has the potential to significantly increase the efficiency of existing uses. Developments in recycling, stormwater capture and storage create great opportunities that are only limited by the resources necessary to implement them.

“California Water” is a book for everyone who may be interested in the State’s water supply, development and use, as well as the future of California. Understanding where we came from will help us work together to overcome the infrastructural, financial, political, environmental and regulatory hurdles between us and an efficient, flowing water supply.

Learn more about what you’ll find in “California Water” and order information by visiting bbk.law/CalWater3rd

What water industry leaders are saying about “California Water:”

“Littleworth and Garner have achieved the impossible. They have untied California’s Gordian knot of water rights, laws, and policies and made them understandable for all. With California’s water management teetering on the edge of crisis, this timely book is critical for everyone working on and learning about the state’s challenges in an age of growing population, unsustainable water demand, and increasing climate change impacts.”

~Mark Gold
Associate Vice Chancellor of Environment and Sustainability, UCLA

“‘California Water’ remains the definitive ‘go-to’ book for analysis of California’s complex water law and policy. The 2019 update covers recent events, climate change issues and other current developments. Must reading for practitioners, it also is a handy reference to any policy manager that even touches on water-related issues.”

~Jeffrey Kightlinger
General Manager, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Best Best & Krieger LLP is a national law firm that focuses on environmental, business, education, municipal and telecommunications law for public agency and private clients. With more than 200 attorneys, the law firm has 10 offices nationwide, including Los Angeles, Sacramento, Riverside, San Diego and Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.bbklaw.com or follow @BBKlaw on Twitter or @BestBestKrieger on Facebook

EPA Signs MOU with FEMA to Support Rapid Recovery and Restoration of Water Infrastructure After Disaster Strikes

From the US EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and FEMA announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to streamline coordination between FEMA and the EPA-funded State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. Now, the funding used to restore vital water infrastructure can be provided quicker in times of disaster.

“This first-of-its-kind MOU with FEMA will give disaster-stricken communities expedited access to federal funds that will aid in their rebuilding process by helping to restore vital infrastructure and water services in times of disaster,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This MOU is another way the Trump Administration is working to help communities and utilities prepare for and respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.”

“Disasters are locally executed, state managed, and federally supported, so we are pleased to work with EPA to provide local communities with additional resources to help them in their times of need,” said Acting FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor.

“This is great news for the state of Iowa and every community recovering from severe floods that occurred earlier this year,” said Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds. “The Memorandum of Understanding with the EPA and FEMA allows Iowa access to critical funds for the restoration of vital drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. We appreciate this administration’s focus on recovery efforts and coming to the aid of rural communities fighting to come back stronger than ever.”

Highlights of the MOU:

  • Encourages a tribe or local government to access a no-interest or low-interest loan from its state revolving fund to help pay for the restoration of vital drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
  • Allows for loan repayments, state match, and interest earnings that are state funds to be reimbursed by FEMA.
  • Allows the SRFs to act as cost-sharing financing sources for a municipality applying for FEMA disaster assistance grant funding.
  • Encourages Clean Water and Drinking Water SRF programs to provide non-federal funds for the purposes of FEMA Cost Share or Interim Loans.

Immediately after a disaster, communities, and tribes typically incur expenses for life safety, clean-up, and other disaster-related operations. By securing a loan through this MOU early on after a disaster, a community would not need to expend its own funds first. Normally, communities have to pay out of pocket and wait to receive a reimbursement through a FEMA grant for eligible expenses or wait for an emergency supplemental appropriation for disaster relief and recovery from Congress.

Background

Under the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs, EPA provides funding to all 50 states and Puerto Rico to capitalize SRF loan programs. SRF programs provide low-interest loans and additional subsidies to public, private, and non-profit entities for eligible drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities and a wide variety of other water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Through loan repayments and investment earnings, the SRFs have leveraged these contributions to provide more than $170 billion in financial assistance to over 39,900 water quality infrastructure projects and 14,500 drinking water projects across the country.

EPA recently announced the availability of nearly $2.6 billion in additional SRF funds to assist states, tribes, and territories with improving drinking water and wastewater infrastructure across the country. This funding advances President Trump’s efforts to rebuild the country’s aging water infrastructure, create local jobs, and ensure all Americans have safe and clean water.

To read the memorandum and lean more, visit: https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf/memorandum-understanding-between-environmental-protection-agency-and-department-homeland

EPA Issues Memo to Increase the Agency’s Compliance with Clean Water Act Deadlines

From the US EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking an important step toward ensuring the Agency is meeting its statutory obligations and carrying out the cooperative federalism principles embodied in the Clean Water Act (CWA). In a memorandum to EPA Regional Administrators, EPA Assistant Administrator  for Office of Water David Ross directed regional offices to comply with statutory deadlines for acting on state and tribal CWA submittals while improving responsiveness in the agency’s oversight role.

“The Clean Water Act establishes a framework that authorizes states and tribes to make water quality management decisions that can be tailored to the needs of their citizens and specific natural resources,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Office of Water David Ross. “Going forward, EPA will be more responsive to our regulatory partners while recognizing their expertise in local and regional water quality as we work together to better protect public health and the environment.”

For years, EPA has routinely exceeded the review and action timelines established by Congress in the CWA. This inaction has resulted in uncertainty for states, tribes and the regulated community; delayed meaningful actions to improve local water quality; spurred lawsuits against the agency; and created significant backlogs and increased workload.

“State agencies and their stakeholders deserve clarity and certainty,” said Missouri Department of Natural Resources Director Carol Comer. “Timely decisions made at the federal level allow states to operate more effectively. Often, states must develop processes and procedures to implement proposed rules or standards, which in the past have been delayed—sometimes by years—awaiting an EPA determination. In addition, our regulated community depends upon our decisions to plan investments or process changes. We support the Administration’s policy promoting quick action at the federal level. We believe it will be good for the environment and good for our stakeholders.

The memo directs regional offices to approve or disapprove state and tribal CWA submittals within the timelines established by Congress. For example, EPA must approve new or revised water quality standard submittals within 60 days of the date of the submission or disapprove within 90 days, and the agency must approve or disapprove biannual lists of waters determined to be impaired and total maximum daily loads within 30 days.

EPA’s memo underscores the importance of restoring the agency’s oversight role to be more consistent with congressional intent. Should the agency disapprove a state or tribal submittal on the basis that it fails to meet CWA requirements, the memo directs regional offices to develop a plan to ensure all required follow up actions are consistent with CWA requirements and statutory deadlines. This plan must be put into place prior to issuing the disapproval.

“Idaho appreciates the cooperation we have recently experienced as EPA has worked with us to address our pending submittals,” said Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director John Tippets. “This policy will further the cooperative partnership that we believe is necessary for effective collaboration between the EPA and the states. We welcome a process that recognizes that states should expect timely action on their submittals and that approval should be expected when federal guidelines have been followed. Ultimately, this policy will result in better outcomes for states and their citizens.”

To read the memorandum, visit https://www.epa.gov/wqs-tech/memorandum-policy-epa-review-and-action-clean-water-act-program-submittals.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

 

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