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Year in Review

Looking Back

What an amazing year 2020 was! Back in January, which feels like a lifetime ago, ASDWA was making plans for the March member meeting in Alexandria. So very quickly we made the shift to virtual meetings and focused on the pressing need of helping keep our water systems operating safely during an unprecedented global health crisis.

Even though we worked remotely, we responded to countless emergencies including hurricanes, flooding, tornados, ice storms and wildfires. Many states developed and expanded online training.

This was also an active year on Capitol Hill and ASDWA continued to be very active with EPA.

We overcame many challenges last year and demonstrated how innovative and resilient state drinking water programs can be. While it was not how I envisioned my year as ASDWA President, I could not be more proud of the work we have accomplished. You have done incredible things and you so rarely receive the credit that you deserve. Thank you! I look forward to 2021 and am excited to see great things Cathy Tucker-Vogel and Lori Mathieu will do in their time leading ASDWA.

Stay safe and I hope that we can be together in person again soon.

- Shellie R. Chard, Water Quality Division Director, Oklahoma DEQ, 2020 ASDWA President

Looking Ahead

I would like to extend a warm welcome to all the new administrators. I look forward to meeting all of you in person and I encourage you to get involved in ASDWA committees or workgroups. Participation provides an opportunity to network with other administrators and their staff, influence ASDWA policy/program development, and learn about innovative approaches used to address drinking water challenges in other states. I would also encourage veteran administrators that have not participated in the past to get involved so that we can all benefit from your knowledge and expertise. Your participation helps ASDWA remain a strong and effective organization.

This year, we need to continue to enhance ASDWA’s relationship with Congressional staff so that we are considered the “go to” organization for drinking water related issues. One of the most pressing issues is the importance of adequately funding state drinking water programs. This will be especially important during 2021 because of the impact COVID-19 has had on state budgets.

My thanks to Shellie Chard for her excellent leadership in 2020. Her thoughtful and steady guidance helped us all navigate through a difficult year. I welcome president-elect Lori Mathieu and the new, incoming board members as well as our returning board members. I look forward to working with you to meet our challenges with your support and advice. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy so we can have a happy and productive 2021.

- Cathy Tucker-Vogel, 2021 ASDWA President, Public Water Supply Section Chief, Kansas Department of Health and Environment

Who We Are

2020 Brought New Challenges

In the first weeks of the pandemic in March, ASDWA's COVID response efforts focused on addressing immediate concerns surrounding the safe use and consumption of tap water. Working collaboratively with EPA, CDC, and the drinking water community, ASDWA developed a web-based repository of COVID-19 resources for drinking water. The resource page included the latest guidance from trusted Federal sources and an interactive map that visitors could use to find state-specific information. Between February and March, this resource page led to a 400% increase in website visits.

With Safer-At-Home orders sweeping the country, ASDWA transitioned to remote work within a week and continued executing our mission in a completely new work environment. As remote attendance made it more convenient for members to attend events, ASDWA saw a 300% increase in online event attendance. Our experiences hosting virtual events this year will help expand our options in the future for connecting with our members and the drinking water community in a variety of ways.

We Brought Members Everything But The Bagel

With the shift to the virtual environment, we quickly adapted to host more virtual meetings on current and important drinking water topics. We began hosting short, monthly meetings with our members in August, what we call Everything But the Bagel, to discuss relevant topics and resources and provide opportunities for member input on ASDWA actions. We also hosted two short Afternoon Coffees and conducted two Summer Book Club webinars to read Troubled Water by Seth M. Siegel and Tucson Water Turnaround by Michael J. McGuire and Marie Pearthree.

We Helped Advance States’ Perspectives on the LCRR

In 2020, ASDWA brought the state perspective to the federal Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) through extensive comments to and discussion with EPA. ASDWA also supported states by developing tools and resources for lead service line inventories/replacements and corrosion control treatment.

ASDWA staff worked closely with over 40 volunteers to states to submit an 80-page set of comments to EPA on the proposed LCRR in February 2020 that detailed states’ issues and concerns.

ASDWA’s comments also included an update to its Costs of States’ Transaction Study (CoSTS), which determined that the national total need for states to implement the proposed LCRR in its first five years would be approximately 835,000 additional staff hours annually. These comments served as the foundation for Then President-Elect Cathy Tucker-Vogel’s testimony about the LCRR to the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

To further support states, ASDWA worked to develop resources related to lead including a webinar and a white paper on lead service line replacements and data, and is partnering with the American Water Works Association (AWWA) to build and deliver training on corrosion control treatment to states, water systems, and consultants.

We Helped Advance Public Health Protection from PFAS

We supported members’ efforts to assess and address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water by hosting member discussions and learning forums, developing resources, providing recommendations to EPA and testimony to Congress, working with partners, and regularly communicating to share new and relevant information and resources. As states continue to set drinking water standards for PFAS and evaluate other emerging contaminants, ASDWA developed new resources and forums to support state water programs:

State Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CEC) Rule Development and Management Strategies Toolkit to help these states evaluate potential risk from a CEC in drinking water to potentially creating a state-level rule.

PFAS Source Water Protection Guide and Toolkit to demonstrate and share effective strategies for addressing PFAS contamination risk in source waters that will inform state policy decisions, assist state drinking water programs in protecting public health, and encourage collaboration and communication among states and water utilities.

ASDWA PFAS Laboratory Testing Primer for State Drinking Water Programs and Public Water Systems provides guidance on how state drinking water programs can work with laboratories to test per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water samples collected from public water systems. PFAS Regulatory Options Subgroup which provides our members with a state-only group to share and evaluate differing approaches to PFAS regulations. Our members also engaged through the PFAS workgroup and the ASDWA-APHL PFAS Labs Group.

Our work with our members, workgroups, and partner organizations led to the following comment letters on EPA PFAS actions:

In April and June, we submitted two sets of comments on EPA’s Preliminary Fourth Regulatory Determinations supporting EPA’s positive preliminary regulatory determinations for PFOA and PFOS.

In May, we joined the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) on a letter of recommendation to EPA on developing PFAS risk communication messages.

In January, along with ECOS and ACWA, we provided comments to EPA on the “Addition of Certain PFAS; Community Right-to-Know Toxic Chemical Release Reporting.”

Relationships And Partnerships Continue to be the Way We Get Things Done

In Congress, we continued to build relationships with members and staff and shared information about the potential impacts legislation will have on state drinking water programs and the water industry.

In February, Then President-Elect Cathy Tucker-Vogel provided testimony on behalf of ASDWA on “EPA’s Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Revisions.”

In July, President Shellie Chard provided testimony on behalf of ASDWA on “There’s Something in the Water: Reforming Our Nation’s Drinking Water Standards.”

Other Groups We Connected With on Behalf of Members

We’re Stronger and More Effective When We Work Together

ASDWA continued to participate in two important issues that represent a broad range of stakeholders, the Lead Service Line Replacement Collaborative and the National Source Water Collaborative. Here are a number of tools, reports, and memos we created with others to support member needs:

State Forest Action Plan (SFAP) Memo: We worked with the Source Water Collaborative and National Association of State Foresters to develop a Memo that draws the connection between forests and source water. The Memo provides state examples, data and communication resources, and general information about source water protection and how to coordinate and include drinking water in the SFAPs.

2019 Analysis of State Drinking Water Programs' Resources and Needs: We worked with Cadmus and an advisory panel of nine states to develop a report that shows that the increasing funding gap has the potential to compromise public health.

Fact Sheet on State Coordination with NRCS: We created a Fact Sheet that shares how states and NRCS are working together to select high priority areas and target agricultural and forestry practices with landowners to protect drinking water sources.

State Drinking Water Distribution System White Paper: We wrote a white paper that summarizes the results of a survey that ASDWA’s Regulatory Committee conducted with its members to determine what distribution system issues state water programs commonly face; to gather management practices and policies to share amongst the states; and to collect additional information that could be used to inform future regulations.

Not Every Change Was COVID Related – New Look, New Office

Though the pandemic brought many forced changes to our work this year, ASDWA had an opportunity to make one very large and important PLANNED change. As we have been working through our strategic plan to transform our approaches to our work, we also knew it was time to transform the way we presented ourselves to the world. With that, ASDWA revealed its new logo this year:

This change signals a more modern look for a more modern approach. And we didn’t stop there. In addition to modernizing how we work; we also made the important decision to modernize where we work. In late 2020, ASDWA moved into new office space, still close to the Rosslyn Metro in Arlington. The new space offers more flexible workspaces, more collaboration opportunities, and a fresh, updated look to spark more fresh, updated thinking. As of November 1st, ASDWA’s new mailing address became: 1300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 875, Arlington, VA 22209. Though we have not had a chance to actually work there together yet, we look forward to that prospect later in 2021. And when it’s safe to do so, we will invite our members, partners, and colleagues in to celebrate this milestone.

On behalf of our staff and the Board, I thank you all for your hard work, your engagement, and your continued trust in us to deliver the information and support you need. Please reach out to me at any time with your ideas, thoughts, and constructive feedback. - Alan Roberson

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1300 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 875, Arlington, VA 22209