Regulatory and Legislative Priorities
CalMutuals establishes its legislative and regulatory priorities at its annual meeting. As legislation and regulations evolve, CalMutuals adapts and takes positions on specific proposed legislation and regulations through its Joint Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee.
The Joint Committee meets at least monthly and more frequently when the legislature is in session.
The Joint Committee includes the board of directors and invites participation from within our membership.
If you are interested in participating in the Joint Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Committee meetings, please contact Susan Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our legislative and regulatory priorities include:
|Legislative Priorities and Focus||Regulatory Priorities and Focus|
From time to time, CalMutuals will help its members on local matters with regional agencies, usually when two or more members in a region feel like they are out of options and need more capacity to plan and execute a strategy.
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Affordability and Economic Feasibility
Chromium 6 Economic Feasibility
Complying with drinking water standards, such as California’s anticipated proposed MCL for CrVI, provides important public health protection. However, compliance imposes a cost. For many California households, compliance costs can be significant enough to impose economic hardship. The affordability challenge for water customers is especially evident for those served by small, rural, and tribal water systems (which typically lack economies of scale for compliance-related water treatment), and economically disadvantaged households in larger communities (where incomes cannot keep pace with the elevated cost of living). For these households, economic hardship — a lack of affordability — may take the form of households making health tradeoffs between paying for water services versus paying for medical needs, food, rent or other necessities.
This objective of this study is to explore the affordability issues associated with the upcoming California CrVI MCL, with the intent of revealing how much fiscal assistance would be needed from the state (or other entities) to keep the public health protection provided by the MCL affordable for all the state’s households, regardless of the size of the water system serving them or other factors.
SB 552 – Drought Planning for Small Water Suppliers and Rural Communities Senate Bill 552
The deadline (Jan 1, 2023) has passed for systems with less than 3,000 connections to register with a mutual aid organization per the requirements of SB 552 (Hertzberg). All systems with 15-2,999 connections must also implement the following drought resilience measures:
- No later than January 1, 2023, implement monitoring systems sufficient to detect production well groundwater levels.
- Beginning no later than January 1, 2023, maintain membership in the California Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network (CalWARN) or similar mutual aid organization.
- No later than January 1, 2024, to ensure continuous operations during power failures, provide adequate backup electrical supply.
- No later than January 1, 2027, have at least one backup source of water supply, or a water system intertie, that meets current water quality requirements and is sufficient to meet average daily demand.
- No later than January 1, 2032, meter each service connection and monitor for water loss due to leakages.
- No later than January 1, 2032, have source system capacity, treatment system capacity if necessary, and distribution system capacity to meet fire flow requirements (Water Code 10609.62).
CalMutuals understands the challenge small systems face when coping with the infrastructural and operational requirements of SB 552 coupled, we will continue to communicate to the State Water Board the need for further Technical Assistance available for small systems.
SWRCB Drought & Conservation Technical Reporting Order
The State Water Resources Control Board issued a Drought & Conservation Technical Reporting Order in January 2023 that requires community water systems to track certain drought technical questions. View the SWRCB’s Reporting User Guide for specifics. The information must be tracked monthly and a report must be submitted quarterly. The first quarter report is due April 30, 2023 and must include January, February, and March 2023.
CalMutuals comments the SWRCB and DWR for providing TA options for systems unable to comply with SB 552 and the Drought Reporting Order requirements. Systems seeking the SWRCB’s technical assistance, giving priority to CWSs serving small disadvantaged communities (less than 10,000 people and with a MHI less than 80% of the statewide MHI), must submit a completed form to
DFA-TARequest@waterboards.ca.gov. Also available: DWR’s Groundwater Level Assistance through the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) Program. For more information, please contact CASGEM@water.ca.gov.
We also recognize the challenges and issues the new reporting order places on smaller system and would like to hear from you. CalMutuals will do our part to provide guidance and support to members and feedback on your behalf to state regulators.
Water Shortage Contingency Plans
The same Drought & Conservation Technical Reporting order included a notice reminding Small Water Suppliers (1,000-2,999 connections) that they are required to complete Water Shortage Contingency Plans by July 1, 2023, per requirements of SB 552. These plans must be posted on the supplier’s website and available to the State Board and public upon request. Plans must be updated every 5 years. Click the following links for a template and/or an example provided by the State Board.
Proposed PFAS National Primary Drinking Water Regulations – PFOA & PFOS
The EPA has released new draft MCLs for PFOA and PFOS permissible in drinking water at the national level and anticipates finalizing the regulation by the end of 2023. The new allowable levels are set to be 4 ppt for both chemicals. EPA expects that if fully implemented, the rule will prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses.
CalMutuals supports the EPAs goal of ensuring the safety of our water supply. The Association is drafting comments focused on needs of concerns of very small water systems that do not appear to be fully considered in the proposal. Comments must be submitted during the public comment period that ends on May 30, 2023. For further information on the pending national standards, visit the EPA’s PFAS page: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas.
EPA Lead and Copper Rule – LSLI October 2024
The EPA issued its Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) in 2021 as part of President Biden’s larger plan to replace all lead pipes over the next decade. The LCRR requires water systems to prepare and maintain an inventory of service line materials by October 16, 2024. The EPA provides guidelines on their website, and other organizations like the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) are hosting webinars to educate systems nationwide on how to comply with this federal regulation. To register for the remaining ASDWA webinars or watch previous ones, click HERE.
CalMutuals is forming a Lead and Copper Rule Task Force to collect information from members about obstacles in the rules implementation that may be useful in communicating to regulatory officials and legislators. If you wish to join, please contact Member Services Director Susan Allen by email at email@example.com.
SWRCB – Chromium 6 Drinking Water MCL
The State Water Resource Control Board will convene in March to continue discussing the Cr6 MCL process, which is headed toward adoption soon. The draft State Water Board staff report includes a compliance period of four years for small systems to implement appropriate treatment and utilizes Point of Use and Point of Entry devices as forms of treatment for systems with fewer than 200 connections. CalMutuals continues to push the State to provide technical assistance and financial resources to ensure that small systems are in compliance.
The complete proposed regulation for Chromium-6 is expected to be released this summer for public comments. We will be encouraging our members to send comment letters raising issues that can impact mutual water companies and small water systems. Please consider weighing in during upcoming public workshops and hearings to ensure that the needs and concerns of mutual water companies are heard.
Manganese – Pending Response and Notification Levels
On March 21, 2023, the SWRCB heard a report from the Division of Drinking Water (DDW) on its proposal to lower the notification and response levels for manganese to 20 parts per billion (ppb) and
200 ppb from 500 µg/L and 5,000 µg/L, respectively. Findings cited in the proposed NL order note that, “Manganese is an essential nutrient and enzyme cofactor that is naturally present in many foods and available as a dietary supplement, but despite its nutritional benefits, adverse health effects can be caused by over-exposure.” The proposed revision seeks to protect young children, particularly bottle-fed infants, from neurological effects observed in a rat study.
The Deputy Director of DDW has delegated authority to issue NL and RL orders, which do not follow the same procedures as a maximum contaminant level. The information report prompted questions and a request from water industry groups to postpone the proposed order and consult with water suppliers. In a letter to Water Board members, it was estimated from the Water Board’s data that over 3,700 sources and over 1,900 Public Water Systems will be affected by the proposed NL/RL.
Small Systems and Consolidation
SAFER Needs Assessment
In late April the State Water Board Released this year’s Drinking Water Needs Assessment (Needs Assessment) that indicates which community water systems, state small water systems and domestic wells are considered failing, potentially failing, or at-risk of failing, based on water quality, accessibility, affordability, and technical, managerial and financial capacity.
Available online is a SAFER interactive dashboard that includes a map and list of assessed systems and the definitions and metrics for all risk indicators. CalMutuals encourages members to log in to your water system and view your profile. There is an additional interactive map for assessed SSWS and domestic wells.
Please call or email us if your company appears on the dashboard as being at risk. We would like to know if you believe that your company’s risk rating is warranted, and what you feel about some of the
indicators, particularly arrearages (unpaid water bills). Please email Ceili Tuttle (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This section will be updated with the 2023 SAFER Needs Assessment upon its release.
Cybersecurity – EPA’s Requirement: Sanitary Surveys
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a memorandum instructing states to assess cybersecurity capabilities at public water systems (PWS). The instructions are an effort to enhance critical infrastructure resilience and ensure the safety of public drinking water.
As part of an existing requirement to periodically audit PWSs (called “sanitary survey”), states will also be required to review the effectiveness of the system’s cybersecurity to produce and distribute safe drinking water. If deficiencies are discovered, the primacy agency is “instructed to use its authority to require the PWS to address the deficiency.”
The EPA is taking public comment on the guidance document until May 31, 2023. Further information and resources can be found on their website: https://www.epa.gov/waterriskassessment/epa-cybersecurity-water-sector.
SB 3 – Discontinuation of residential water services
Senate Bill 3 would require water systems with under 200 connections to follow a complex set of steps before shutting off customers for non-payment. This includes:
- Translating the shut-off process into at least five languages (Due to CalMutuals’ advocacy, this requirement has been removed as of 3/21/23).
- Taking extraordinary means to make sure that customers receive the rules including hand delivery of notices
- Not shutting off customers with medical circumstances attested by a doctor
- Provision of a payment plan that a customer can accept in lieu of a shut-off of service.
Smaller systems may face financial hardships due to implementation costs and the consequences of unrecovered arrearages. CalMutuals has shared concerns with Senator Dodd’s office and will continue to urge the state legislature to identify the necessary resources to assist smaller systems that bear a heavy burden with each new unfunded mandate.
As of April 17, 2023, SB 3 has been referred to the “suspense file” by the State Senate Appropriations Committee. We will continue to monitor any SB 3 activity in the days and months ahead. If SB 3 can’t gain passage by the Senate Appropriations Committee by May 19th, it will NOT be able to move to the Assembly.