EPA to Propose Water Infrastructure Rule in October

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By Rachel Leven and Amena H. Saiyid

May 18 — The Environmental Protection Agency expects to propose a rule in October to implement the fledgling water infrastructure program that Congress created in 2014, according to its spring regulatory agenda released May 18.

The EPA also has pushed back the estimated release date for two of its rules—one on unregulated contaminant monitoring in drinking water and one on pretreatment standards for mercury amalgam discharges from dentist offices.

These developments were part of the broader EPA regulatory agenda that is released twice per year and offers a glimpse into the Obama administration's priorities for the last several months of its term.


The agency in October will release its proposed rule for implementing the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Authority.

If implemented, the program would allow water utilities to obtain Treasury-backed credit to secure loans for infrastructure projects worth at least $20 million. But the program has not been able to issue any credit because the EPA hadn't issued rules guiding its implementation (27 DEN B-4, 2/10/16).

The proposed rule will establish guidelines for the application process, selection criteria and project selection, as well as define threshold requirements for credit assistance, limits on credit assistance, reporting requirements, collection of fees and the application of other federal statutes, according to the regulatory agenda. WIFIA was passed as part of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (Pub. L. No. 113-121).

UCMR 4, Dental Amalgam

But some of the administration's water priorities have been pushed back.

For example, the agency's Office of Water has delayed its deadline to December 2016 for issuing final pretreatment standards for mercury amalgam discharges from the dental sector. At the start of the year, EPA reiterated its plans to issue the final rule by June (07 DEN B-1, 1/12/16).

The agency also will release its unregulated contaminant monitoring rule for public water systems (RIN:2040-AF49) in January 2017, later than the previously estimated late 2016 final rule release date. The proposed version of the rule required public drinking water utilities to collect occurrence data on 30 unregulated contaminants, including cyanotoxins, that could be present in tap water (123 DEN A-15, 6/26/14).

Finally, the agency remains on track to meet its court-mandated deadline of Nov. 17 to issue a revised stormwater rule for cities and suburbs with up to 100,000 people. It also is on track to determine by June whether stormwater discharges from forest roads need to be regulated (Envtl. Def. Ctr., Inc. v. EPA, 9th Cir., No. 14-80184, settlement approved 9/15/15).

To contact the reporters on this story: Rachel Leven in Washington at rleven@bna.com and asaiyid@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com