October 19, 2020



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LATEST NEWS


Update on COVID-19 Negotiations

  • Negotiations have continued for the next COVID-19 relief and recovery package;
  • President Trump is calling on Congress to ‘go big’ and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has said agreement must be reached this week to pass a bill before the November 3, election;
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled votes this week in the Senate on a $500 billion bill, which is much smaller than the $1.6 to $2.2 trillion price tag being pushed by the President and the Speaker;
  • Though broad agreement exists that another round of federal economic stimulus is needed, and support for healthcare, schools, and the unemployed is necessary, there is disagreement amongst negotiators over the specific details (how to best aid to state and local governments being part of the disagreement), and Leader McConnell says a package in the trillions will not pass the Senate;
  • In addition to leaders in both parties feeling pressure from the public (and their members), to produce an agreement, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is projecting a $3.1 trillion deficit for the U.S., the largest share of Gross Domestic Product since 1945;
  • APWA Government Affairs is tracking developments, so be sure to stay informed on developments impacting public works by following @APWGOVAFFAIRS on Twitter and reading Advocacy News.

APWA Submits Comments on EPA Financial Capability Assessment Revisions

  • October 19, APWA submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Proposed 2020 Financial Capability Assessment for Clean Water Act Obligations;
  • The proposed revisions update guidance for communities planning water infrastructure improvements;
  • APWA members and other water stakeholders feel that the current guidance is inadequate, as it relies on Median Household Income as the key metric in determining affordability;
  • APWA’s comments focus on two recommended actions for EPA to take:
    • EPA should support legislative and regulatory efforts encouraging water systems in significant noncompliance to voluntarily partner with successful and compliant utilities;
    • EPA should encourage more accurate rate design reflecting full cost-of-service, as the second alternative in the proposed guidance offers.
  • APWA’s comments also reiterate that there is significant need for additional federal funding and financing to help communities make necessary water infrastructure investments;
  • The second option in the proposal allows utilities to use a “dynamic financial and rate model” to evaluate affordability of water infrastructure improvements;
  • This option is preferred by APWA members, as it provides a more complete, nuanced economic picture of the communities that water and sewer service providers serve.

Trump Administration Creates Water Subcabinet

  • October 13, President Trump issued an executive order titled, “Modernizing America’s Water Resource Management and Water Infrastructure,” establishing a Water Subcabinet of Federal agency officials to manage the nation’s water resources and infrastructure;
  • The Department of the Interior and EPA will lead the group with representatives from:
    • Department of Agriculture;
    • Department of Commerce;
    • Department of Energy;
    • Department of the Army;
    • White House Council on Environmental Quality;
    • Office of Management and Budget;
    • Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • The Water Subcabinet is responsible for developing a national water strategy to enhance water storage, water supply, and drought resiliency;
  • The group will also work to improve water quality, source water protection, nutrient management, and restoration activities;
  • The group aims to streamline the process by reducing “unnecessary duplication” in government and consolidate “existing water-related task forces, working groups, and other formal cross-agency initiatives.”

APWA Participating in “Imagine a Day Without Water” on October 21

FEMA Seeking Applications for National Exercise Program

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is currently accepting nominations for the National Exercise Program (NEP);
  • The NEP is a series of exercises conducted throughout the nation designed to examine and validate capabilities in all preparedness mission areas;
  • To request exercise support, federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies, as well as their private, nonprofit or other whole community partners can download the nomination form;
  • The deadline to apply is November 1, 2020.

FEMA Policy Emphasizes Use of Environmentally Beneficial Mitigation Projects

  • Signed September 28, FEMA's new flood policy seeks to promote mitigation projects that in addition to providing flood protection, will provide environmental protection;
  • The new policy evaluates projects based on their combined flood protection and environmental benefits, and revises how FEMA evaluates state and local applications for agency funding of flood mitigation projects, and the manner in which they are rated;
  • The policy applies to money distributed through the agency's three grant programs designed to reduce vulnerability to disasters, including the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program, and new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) programs, as well as disaster recovery funds focused on hazard mitigation;
  • Over the next few weeks, FEMA plans to release information on this policy for state and local municipalities, encouraging them to incorporate nature-based solutions in their mitigation planning.

FEMA Releases 2020 NEHRP Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings

  • Last week, FEMA released the 2020 National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Recommended Seismic Provisions for New Buildings and Other Structures guidance;
  • NEHRP supports basic research that expands our knowledge of earthquakes and their impacts, and develops strategies, tools, techniques, and other measures to reduce the adverse effects of earthquakes and facilitates and promotes implementation of these measures, strengthening earthquake resilience among at-risk communities;
  • In addition to federal agencies, state and local governments, universities, research centers, professional societies, trade associations and businesses, as well as associated councils, commissions and consortia, serve as coordinating partners;
  • This marks FEMA’s 10th edition of the guidance since 1985.

October is National Pedestrian Safety Month

  • This month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is marking the first National Pedestrian Safety Month to increase awareness of pedestrian safety;
  • According to NHTSA, between the months of September and February, 30% of pedestrian fatalities take place between 6:00 p.m. and 8:59 p.m. in line with Daylight Savings Time;
  • For additional pedestrian safety tips, check out: NHTSA.gov/Pedestrians.

ON THE HORIZON

  • October 29 at 12:00 p.m. ET, FEMA is scheduled to host a National Cybersecurity Awareness Month webinar on Individual and Community Awareness, focusing on the importance of cybersecurity and resources needed to engage safely online, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.