Water Policy Forum Addresses Key Legislative, Regulatory Issues in Washington

Hundreds of water and wastewater professionals gathered in Washington, D.C., April 7-9, for the National Water Policy Forum & Fly-In as part of Water Week 2014. Conference leaders and attendees discussed key legislative, regulatory and legal developments on a broad array of water issues with members of Congress and federal regulators.

2014 U.S. Water Prize Winners

Organized by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), the event included two main activities. The first was the many presentations and panel discussions featuring NACWA directors, officials from federal agencies and also members of Congress. The second was the time allotted for NACWA members to head over to Capitol Hill to meet with their Congressional representatives and push them for legislative support.

With countless pieces of legislation currently on the table for potential infrastructure funding, the Water Policy Forum looked to offer attendees an outlook on potential bills to push members of Congress to support in the areas of water, wastewater and stormwater. On the afternoon of April 7, the conference kicked off at the Capitol Hilton with a variety of speakers who gave an overview on various legislative and regulatory issues (for more on these discussions, check out the piece by Pat Sinicropi, NACWA director of legislative affairs, on p. 30).

U.S. Water Prize Winners Formally Recognized
On Monday evening, in conjunction with the Water Policy Forum, the U.S. Water Alliance held an event to formally announce the winners of the 2014 U.S. Water Prize. This year, the Water Prize was awarded to: Alliance for Water Efficiency, Chicago, Ill.; American Water, Voorhees, N.J.; Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio; and Orange County Water District and Sanitation District, Calif.

The U.S. Water Prize was created four years ago by the U.S. Water Alliance to award organizations that promote the value of water and that integrate a ?one water? sustainability approach into their efforts. ?America?s future looks bright blue with these shining water stars,? said Ben Grumbles, U.S. Water Alliance president. ?Our 2014 winners are leading the way by reducing water waste, reusing water resources, and rethinking watershed strategies and technologies.?

Gina McCarthyMaking an appearance to honor the winners was U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy as she addressed a crowd of more than 300 water leaders at the Water Prize ceremony held at The National Geographic headquarters.

?There?s a thread that ties all these winners together,? explained McCarthy. ?It?s that they aren?t just thinking about providing clean water today, but managing it for the future. That kind of ingenuity requires thinking outside the box. It requires breaking down barriers and cross-collaboration.??

McCarthy also took the time to highlight EPA?s Water Innovation Technology Blueprint Version 2, a new report addressing some of the most pressing needs and solutions in water infrastructure, addressing technology innovation, market opportunities, tools for assessing water risk and a set of actions that EPA plans to take for promoting technology innovation.

?The Blueprint shows how bright America?s water future can be if innovation and partnership rise to the top,? Grumbles added. ?EPA should be commended for articulating a vision and helping others, public and private, local and national, to step forward with sustainable solutions to our most important and enduring challenges.?
Following the Water Prize ceremony was a reception for all the winners and attendees. ?

Clean Water Caucus & Capitol Hill Visits
On Tuesday, the Water Policy Forum continued with a Congressional Breakfast and opening remarks from NACWA President Julius Ciaccia, WEF President Sandra Ralston and Raymond Marshall, executive director of the Narragansett Bay Commission in Providence, R.I. Featured speakers also included Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio).?

Bob PerciasepeFollowing the morning sessions, Congressional Clean Water Caucus Co-Chairs Rep. John Duncan (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) joined public agency leaders at the inaugural briefing of the Caucus to highlight the innovative technologies and approaches in the water sector and the vital local and national economic benefits these innovations provide. The briefing, entitled??Utilities of the Future?Engaging Communities, Embracing New Challenges & Ensuring Economic Prosperity,? focused on the clean water technologies and water management innovations that are being pursued by five unique public agencies ? San Francisco, Cincinnati, Chicago, Onondaga County and Atlanta. Following the Caucus, hundreds of Water Policy Forum attendees and NACWA members made their way to the Capitol to meet with their Congressional leaders.

The conference wrapped up on Wednesday with a final array of presentations from federal agency officials. Featured speakers included EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner and EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who spoke about EPA?s budget constraints at the federal level.

?Our budget, in the federal side, is in the category that is called ?discretionary domestic spending,?? said Perciasepe. ?The pressures in the budget, when you look at the big federal buckets of defense and mandatory spending for programs, discretionary domestic spending is the one that gets squeezed the most, and EPA has not been immune to that. So budgets are on my mind, and it?s going to make it harder for us to get things done, but it?s going to force us to get more serious about how we do things together.?

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies is currently gearing up for its Summer Conference and 44th Annual Meeting with the theme, ?Effective Utility Leadership?Today and Tomorrow,? which will convene July13-16 in Portland, Ore. For more information on NACWA events and activities, visit www.nacwa.org.?

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