Northam reverses decision to lay off VDH-ODW Staff
Great news for Water Utilities came over the weekend when Governor Ralph Northam intervened and reversed a decision by the health commissioner to lay off all six Field Directors, along with 8 other key office personnel.
In the last two weeks, it was announced that the Office of Drinking Water would be laying off 14 personnel from each regional office effective January 9th, 2022. This decision would have had a profound impact on drinking water utilities around the state for systems of all sizes.  ODW provides technical support and oversight to Virginia's public water systems and this action would have impacted this critical function at a critical time with not only more regulations (newly approved Lead and Copper Rule) but also an infusion of federal funding for infrastructure repair and replacement.  
Gov. Ralph Northam’s press secretary said Saturday that the governor is reversing a decision by his health commissioner to lay off 14 people who monitor drinking water in Virginia. “The Governor has directed the Department of Health and the Department of Planning and Budget to fix the Office of Drinking Water’s budget shortfall now so that no one will lose their positions — this office and these individuals are too important to do otherwise,” said Alena Yarmosky, the governor’s press secretary, in an email. “The individuals affected are being notified now and we will work with the Office of Drinking Water to ensure their budget practices do not put them in this unfortunate situation again.”
Thank you to everyone that reached out to their local delegates, and the Office of Drinking Water directly, to voice their objection to this decision.  
EPA Announces Intent to Strengthen Lead and Copper Regulations, Support Proactive Lead Service Line Removal Across the Country

(Article republished from EPA News Release, 

Contact Information
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (Dec. 16, 2021) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S. Regan announced that the agency will begin developing a new regulation to better protect communities from exposure to lead in drinking water. EPA is committed to using every tool available—statutory authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act, technical assistance, funding, and more—to protect all Americans from lead in drinking water. The agency will collaboratively work with local, state, and federal partners, to make rapid progress on President Biden’s goal to remove 100% of lead service lines, with a focus on prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by lead contamination.

“Over the past year, I have visited with and heard from communities in Chicago, Flint, Jackson, and many other areas that are impacted by lead in drinking water,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These conversations have underscored the need to proactively remove lead service lines, especially in low-income communities. The science on lead is settled—there is no safe level of exposure and it is time to remove this risk to support thriving people and vibrant communities.”

Today’s announcement is a key component of the Biden-Harris administration’s whole of government Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, also announced today.

Following the agency’s review of the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) under Executive Order 13990, EPA has concluded that there are significant opportunities to improve the rule to support the overarching goal of proactively removing lead service lines and more equitably protecting public health. EPA is announcing a two-prong approach to strengthen this regulatory framework.

Beginning December 16, the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions will go into effect to advance critical lead service line inventories that are necessary to achieve 100% removal of lead service lines. The agency plans to issue guidance—including best practices, case studies, and templates to help develop lead service line inventories—to assist its partners in implementation of the rule.

EPA will also develop a new proposed rule, the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements, that will strengthen the regulatory framework. EPA intends to propose requirements that, along with other actions, would result in the replacement of all lead service lines as quickly as is feasible. EPA also intends to consider opportunities to strengthen tap sampling requirements and explore options to reduce the complexity and confusion associated with the action level and trigger level, with a focus on reducing health risks in more communities. The goal of these potential lead service line replacement regulatory improvements—coupled with non-regulatory actions—is to more equitably protect public health.

Additionally, EPA will allocate $2.9 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to states, Tribes, and territories to remove lead service lines. This 2022 allocation is the first of five allotments that will provide $15 billion in dedicated funding for lead serve lines replacements. In addition to the dedicated investment in lead service lines, the Law provides an additional $11.7 billion in general funding through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which can also be utilized for lead removal projects.

To see additional actions that EPA is taking under the President’s action plan, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/12/16/fact-sheet-the-biden-harris-lead-pipe-and-paint-action-plan/

For more information on EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule, visit: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/review-national-primary-drinking-water-regulation-lead-and-copper.

For more information on estimated 2022 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund allotments to remove lead service lines through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, visit: www.epa.gov/infrastructure/water-infrastructure-investments.

Thank you for being a Utility Member in VA AWWA