This article originally appeared in WWD April 2021 issue as "This is Water's Moment"
The news cycle for the water industry for March was brimming with talking points, and major events that will shape the industry for quite some time.
First, the American Society of Civil Engineers released the 2021 Infrastructure Report Card. The overall score for U.S. infrastructure was a C-, the first time the overall grade for infrastructure has been in the C range in 20 years. But that doesn’t tell the full story for individual sectors. Drinking water earned a C-, wastewater earned a D+ and storm water, in its first year, earned a D.
Second, two U.S. EPA Action Notices delayed the publishing and effective dates of the Lead & Copper Rule Revision (LCRR). As mentioned in the last issue of WWD, the LCRR is coming, but the way it would look was uncertain. With these delays, the EPA will initiate a new public comment period and likely a stricter final rule.
Third, the U.S. Senate confirmed Michael Regan as the U.S. EPA director. In his first week, his social media accounts and press releases highlighted conversations about water infrastructure with government officials and leaders. This paints an optimistic picture for the future of the water industry, especially with former US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox now among the top brass of the U.S. EPA Office of Water.
That optimism was further fueled by Congress passing the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief package that included $500 million for low-income water assistance and additional money for water and sewer infrastructure. Not to mention, the Senate Environment & Public Works committee held a hearing on water infrastructure funding March 17, which stressed a need for more funding.
Lastly, the U.S. EPA published the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) in the Federal Register. The UCMR 5 includes sampling rules for 29 PFAS and for lithium as well as analytical methods, all of which are open for public comment through May 10.
During the ASCE Infrastructure Report Card live stream reveal, Fox was part of a panel discussing water partnerships that work, and one quote really stood out from what she said: “This is water’s moment. We are hitting a tipping point where we’ve got to make an investment in the next generation of infrastructure.”
And when you look at all the things moving at the federal level, it’s hard to argue she is wrong. This is water’s moment. Let’s get to work.