October 18, 2021

 

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LATEST NEWS
 

APWA Holds Virtual Congressional Briefing on Workforce Development


  • APWA will hold a virtual congressional briefing this Wednesday, sponsored by the House Public Works & Infrastructure Caucus, “Building the Public Works Workforce: Preparing for Tomorrow’s Infrastructure;”
  • The event will feature a panel discussion about the importance of supporting and maintaining a strong workforce in the public works sector to meet the challenges facing our nation’s infrastructure;
  • The event will feature APWA CEO Scott Grayson as moderator and a panel of public works experts:
    • Stan Brown, APWA President and Member Services Consultant for the Georgia Municipal Association
    • Renee Tyler, APWA Government Affairs Committee Member and Director of Community Services for the City of Eau Claire, WI
    • Joe Giudice, APWA Solid Waste Technical Committee Chair Public Works Director for the City of Phoenix, AZ
    • Alysen Abel, APWA Small Cities/Rural Communities Committee Chair and Public Works Director for the City of Parkville, MO
  • All APWA members are invited to attend the event, which will take place Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET;
  • To RSVP, email Michael Altman at maltman@apwa.net.

Infrastructure Update

  • The House and Senate return to legislative business this week with an extension of surface transportation programs authorized under current law, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act (Public Law 114-94), set to expire Oct. 31;
  • On Oct. 2, President Biden signed a short-term extension of the FAST Act to allow continued spending from the Highway Trust Fund and authorization of surface transportation programs, while Congress continued infrastructure legislation negotiations;
  • This, technically, is the second extension of the FAST Act as the 5-year law initially expired Sept. 30, 2020, and had since been operating under a 1-year extension;
  • The Senate passed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which APWA supports, in early August;
  • The IIJA is being tied by Democrat leadershipto a multi-trillion dollar partisan budget reconciliation package that seeks to address climate, education, health care, Medicare, immigration, and taxes—the ‘human infrastructure’ as declared by President Biden in his American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan introduced earlier this year;
  • The ultimate scope and size of a budget reconciliation package, (originally $3.5 trillion and reportedly being trimmed to assist its passage), how to pay for it, and the very thinly divided partisan breakdown in the Senate and the House, are the current hurdles;
  • For awareness, the overall $1.2 trillion IIJA aligns with APWA public policy priorities and includes:
    • A 5-year authorization of surface transportation programs
    • Continuing streamlining duplicative permitting processes
    • Strengthening overall resiliency of infrastructure to include protection against natural disasters and cyberattacks
    • Investing in upgrading water and wastewater systems while protecting them from dangerous emerging contaminants
  • In addition to infrastructure, Congress also needs to pass all FY2022 appropriations bills and the federal government is operating under a continuing resolution, H.R. 5305, in effect through Dec. 3, 2021;
  • The federal government’s FY2022 began Oct. 1;
  • APWA urges all members to use our new ‘Contact Congress’ advocacy platform, officially launched during PWX, to call for passage of the IIJA;
  • Please take a minute to text ‘PWX’ to 52886 and you will receive a text message to opt-in and assist you in sending a message today to Congress supporting the IIJA;
  • If you prefer not to text, please go to the APWA ‘Contact Congress’ page now and send Ask Congress to Pass Urgently Needed Infrastructure Legislation, or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be connected to the offices of your U.S. Representatives and Senators and leave a message in support of IIJA;
  • APWA Government Affairs continues bipartisan outreach to Congressional offices about the Association’s 117th Congress Public Policy Priorities, which are Surface Transportation Reauthorization, Water Resiliency, and Emergency Management;
  • Contact APWA’s Director of Government and Public Affairs Andrea Eales at aeales@apwa.net with any questions about APWA’s Government Affairs activities and priorities.

CISA Releases Advisory on Cyber Threats to the U.S. Water and Wastewater Systems

  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an advisory last week, “Ongoing Cyber Threats to U.S. Water and Wastewater Systems;
  • The advisory outlines ongoing cyber threats to the U.S. Water and Wastewater Systems (WWS) Sector, including:
    • Details on how cyber intrusions may lead to ransomware attacks that would threaten WWS facilities’ ability to provide clean, potable water to their communities, and effectively manage wastewater
    • Resources to assist WWS Sector facilities strengthen operational resilience and cybersecurity practices
  • CISA simultaneously released its Cyber Risks & Resources for the Water and Wastewater Systems Sector infographic that includes IT and operational technology risks faced by the WWS Sector.

White House Announces Roadmap to Build an Economy Resilient to Climate Change

  • The White House released a Roadmap to Build an Economy Resilient to Climate Change last week;
  • The proposed strategy is designed to identify and offer guidance on mitigating ongoing challenges posed by climate change, including:
    • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) updating its National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards to help communities align their construction and land use practices with the latest flood risk reduction data
    • Updated National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate.gov, which offers tools, data dashboards, and classroom-ready teaching resources
  • This action is a follow-up measure from the May 2021 President Biden’s Executive Order on Climate-Related Financial Risk.

EPA and Army Announce Regional Roundtables on WOTUS

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Army (Army) announced Oct. 13 they will be hosting a series of roundtable discussions on the regional implications of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) regulations;
  • WOTUS regulations define which waters are subject to Clean Water Act regulation, and EPA/Army have announced their intent to revise WOTUS;
  • In the announcement, the agencies ask that communities submit proposals for roundtables that will involve stakeholders including drinking water/wastewater management, agriculture, environmental groups, and more;
  • The agencies stated the roundtables will specifically seek to understand the following issues:
    • Highlighting how different regions are affected by various WOTUS definitions
    • Learning about stakeholder experiences, challenges, and opportunities under different regulatory regimes
    • Facilitating engagement across diverse perspectives to inform the development of a durable and workable definition of WOTUS
  • Proposals for roundtables are due via email no later than Nov. 3, 2021;
  • For more information, see EPA’s official announcement.

FEMA Seeking Comments on NFIP Updates

  • FEMA issued a request for comments last week in an effort to revise and update the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood plain management standards;
  • NFIP standards have not seen substantial modifications since 1976;
  • In addition to input from the public on recommendations to protect homes from flood damage, information is being sought on how to better safeguard the habitats and populations of endangered and threatened species;
  • If you wish to submit comments, include the Docket ID-FEMA-2021-0024 when providing comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal;
  • The deadline to submit comments is Dec. 13, 2021.

NOAA Releases Update on the Impact of Weather and Climate Disasters in 2021

  • NOAA last week announced that through the first nine months of 2021, the U.S. has endured 18 separate weather and climate disasters that have cost at least $1 billion each;
  • This is the second highest number of billion-dollar disasters behind only 2020, when there were 22 such events.
  • 2021’s pace is ahead of 2020’s. NOAA adjusts damage estimates, factoring in inflation, using the consumer price index.

ON THE HORIZON