NEWS WORTH NOTING: Reclamation releases draft congressionally-mandated repayment contracts for CVP contractors; Reclamation awards over $950,000 to three CA water recycling studies; Attorney General Becerra joins lawsuit challenging repeal of Clean Water Rule

Reclamation releases draft congressionally-mandated repayment contracts for Central Valley Project contractors

The Bureau of Reclamation is continuing public notice for congressionally-mandated contract conversions pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act). Today’s notice includes five additional draft repayment contract assignments from the Delta Division and San Luis Unit for a 60-day public comment period. These are the 10th through 14th of more than 75 repayment contract conversions requested by federal Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors.

All negotiated contracts are available at: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/negotiated-conversion-contracts.html

Section 4011 of the WIIN Act directs Reclamation to convert water service contracts to repayment contracts upon a contractor’s request and authorizes prepayment of outstanding CVP construction costs. Under Section 4011, full repayment is due within three years of the contract conversion. Both the prepayment and accelerated repayment of the contracts will result in the federal government being repaid well in advance of the original repayment deadline. These dollars will be placed in a congressionally created storage account to fund much-needed storage projects. Increasing storage capacity will allow Reclamation’s projects to capture additional water in wet years to help meet the water needs for all project purposes in dry years.

Reclamation plans to release an additional 10 draft repayment contracts with north-of-delta contractors for public review in mid-January 2020 and approximately 25 additional draft repayment contracts with south-of-delta contractors starting in March 2020. Reclamation will continue to release draft repayment contracts in addition to these throughout the year.

The entire list of contract conversion requests can be viewed here: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/docs/the-wiin-act-9d-conversion-tracker.pdf.

Written comments on this set of contracts must be received by close of business on February 19, 2020, and sent to Erma Leal, South-Central California Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, 1243 N Street, Fresno CA 93721; or faxed to 559-262-0371; or emailed to eleal@usbr.gov.

View contract and WIIN Act information at: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/.

Bureau of Reclamation awards a total of over $950,000 to three California water reclamation and reuse research studies

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced awards totaling $1.6 million for four Title XVI water reclamation and reuse research studies. Three studies located in California will receive a total of over $950,000. The resulting research will lead to increased water management flexibility and more reliable western water supplies. When non-federal cost-share contributions are included, these four studies will accomplish more than $7.6 million in water reclamation and reuse research.

“Water treatment and wastewater recycling are essential tools for stretching limited water supplies in the western United States,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “These Title XVI research studies will enable better use of recycled water to provide growing communities with new sources of clean water.”

Title XVI research projects are selected to receive funding through a competitive process. The following three projects were selected in California:

City of San Diego (California)

Demonstrating Innovative Control Strategies for Reverse Osmosis Membrane Degradation and Preserving Water Quality in Potable Reuse Application with Optimized Chloramination Strategies

Reclamation funding: $155,113; Non-federal funding: $465,338

o   The City of San Diego will research the impacts of elevated bromide levels on reverse osmosis membrane oxidation and compliance with the California Toxics Rule.

o   The region has seen increased bromide levels due to an increase in seawater desalination supplies and an increase in imported water supplies from the State Water Project rather than the Colorado River.

o   The results of the research will be directly applied to the Pure Water San Diego Project, which, upon completion, will be the first surface water augmentation potable reuse project in California.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (California)

Demonstration of Pathogen Removal through an Alternative Treatment Technology to Treat Non-Nitrified Secondary Effluent for Potable Reuse

Reclamation funding: $750,000; Non-federal funding: $3,237,785

o   The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County are exploring the potential of a large-scale Regional Recycled Water Program to beneficially reuse water currently discharged to the Pacific Ocean.

o   The project will demonstrate that advanced water treatment processes can achieve the water quality and operational goals necessary to develop a regulatory strategy.

o   A regulatory strategy would streamline the incorporation of membrane bioreactors into potable reuse applications in California and ultimately facilitate safe and cost-effective expansion of recycled water.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District (California)

East County Advanced Water Purification Facilities Preformed Chloramines Research to Ensure California Toxics Rule Compliance

Reclamation funding: $45,150; Non-federal funding: $135,453

o   Padre Dam Municipal Water District, in San Diego County, California, will partner with regional partners to evaluate the use of preformed chloramines to both carry a chloramine residual to prevent membrane fouling and to meet the California Toxics Rule requirements for discharge to Lake Jennings.

o   The results of the field research will feed directly into the design and construction of the new full-scale Advanced Water Purification Facility.

The Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program supports the President’s memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West. Reclamation provides funding through the Title XVI Water Reclamation and Reuse Program for projects that reclaim and reuse municipal, industrial, domestic or agricultural wastewater and impaired ground or surface waters. Reclaimed water can be used for a variety of purposes, such as environmental restoration, fish and wildlife, groundwater recharge, municipal, domestic, industrial, agricultural, power generation or recreation. Learn more at https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/title/.

Title XVI is part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART Program. Through WaterSMART, Reclamation works cooperatively with States, tribes, and local entities as they plan for and implement actions to increase water supply through investments to modernize existing infrastructure and reduce local water conflicts. Visit https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart for additional information about the program.

A complete description of the selected projects is available at: https://www.usbr.gov/watersmart/titlexvi/docs/2019/2019-12-20-titlexvi-research-grants.pdf.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, as part of a multistate coalition, filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) challenging the agencies’ proposed rule repealing the current Clean Water Rule and excluding many of our nation’s waterways from vital federal protections (Recodification Rule). The Clean Water Rule enacted during the Obama Administration provided much-needed clarity and consistency in federal Clean Water Act protections by specifically including within the scope of protected waters the headwaters of rivers and creeks as well as other non-traditionally navigable waters, which have significant impact on downstream water quality. The Recodification Rule is the most recent step in the Trump Administration’s plan to dismantle pollution control measures under the Clean Water Act.

“Our waters are necessary to sustain life, communities, and habitats — they must be protected, not abandoned,” said Attorney General Becerra. “We refuse to allow the backward policies of the Trump Administration to inflict lasting damage on our nation’s waterways. There is a legal way of doing business that President Trump has so far refused to learn.”

In addition to repealing the Clean Water Rule, the Recodification Rule reinstates the prior definition of protected waters, which does not comply with Supreme Court case law. The rule could eliminate federal protections for many non-navigable wetlands, rivers, creeks, streams, and tributaries. Under the Recodification Rule, a large portion of California’s surface waters could be deprived of federal protection from polluted discharges.

In the lawsuit, the attorneys general assert that the Recodification Rule is inconsistent with and contradictory to the Clean Water Act, is unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), and would have a negative impact on the nation’s waters. The complaint alleges that the agencies’ actions are arbitrary and capricious and otherwise unlawful. The new rule violates the APA because it conflicts with case law.  In addition, the agencies failed to consider whether the new rule meets the key objective of the Clean Water Act to restore and maintain water quality, ignored the agencies’ previous findings and conclusions in the Clean Water Rule that were based on current peer-reviewed science, and failed to comply with notice and comment requirements for the rulemaking.

Filing the comments with Attorney General Becerra are the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, District of Columbia, and the City of New York.

The attorneys general urge the court to vacate the Recodification Rule. A copy of the complaint is available here.

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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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