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Legislation & Policy Committee Meeting Summary July 16, 2020 Conference Call

  1. Call to Order—Kirsten Wallace, UMRBA; Chair called the committee to order at 10:03 a.m.  Central time. 
  • Introductions of Participants on the call:  Kirsten Wallace, Chair, Sue Lowry, Brian Atkins, Matt Unruh, Tom Littlepage, Sam Swartz, Drew Dehoff, Christopher Estes, Kelly Pennington, Richard Friesner
  • Topics/Speakers for Legislation and Policy Session Virtual Annual Meeting—This committee’s topics will be highlighted during the October 13 session (10 a.m. to 12: 30 p.m. Central) and Kirsten and Sue had discussed two, related themes:  The Future of Water Infrastructure Development in the US and Working with Congress during COVID.  Some specific speakers/topics mentioned were: ask Tim Petty to give an administration update; Julie will ask Sen. Inhofe’s staff to describe how the senate office works with OWRB; P3 or other infrastructure speaker; WRDA—Camille Touton and someone from EPW. 
  • Any L & P follow-up from all committees July 13—FEMA Drought pre-disaster planning programs webinar.  Matt mentioned the work from Iowa that was used as an example during the FEMA webinar.  Matt has some contacts in Iowa and will do some checking on the details of the example to see if an update to ICPW would be a good committee webinar in the future. 
  • EPA Section 401 Rule—summary from The Water Report sent out with agenda.  The rule is now final so no comment period remaining, although it is possible that litigation will be filed.  Getting a speaker from EPA or ACWA to give the current status during our October session would be good. 
  • From 2020 workplan, identify 1-3 Principle Statements topics—Kirsten has a priorities list of:
    • Project Partnership Agreements with the USACE
    • Planning Assistance to States program within the USACE
    • USGS Streamgaging program support
    • Extreme Precipitation Estimates for Planning (Atlas 14 volumes)
    • Drought

Drew Dehoff is also developing Principle Statements for the Interstates Committee, so he and Kirsten will work together on format consistency.  Statements will be circulated to the committee in late July.

  • Legislation to track: 
    • WRDA 2020 (AWIA in Senate)–May not pass prior to election—now all about messaging of priorities.  As we know WRDA is the highest priority item among ICWP members, it would be good to send a letter focusing on a few items that are in both versions and express our desire that a bill be passed this congress.  Emphasize that WRDA bills are a win for both parties. Sue will draft a letter for the committee’s review and then request the Board to approve and send. 
    • USGS/DOI FY21 Appropriations –Sue noted that the House Appropriations committee had recently released their mark of the FY 21 budget for USGS and there are some increases in the Water Mission Area  (WMA) budget.  She will send to the committee a summary by major program in the WMA. 
    • Support for NOAA-NWS Atlas 14 Point Precipitation Frequency Estimates (Atlas 14) –Dr. Wright presentation to WD&S on 7/1—Wes Cattoor raised no ability to use forecasted extreme event amounts when planning future infrastructure needs/projects.  
    • Resilient Communities Revolving Loan Fund Act
  • Other items for the Committee’s consideration—new EO on NEPA rollback—just released, so it’s too soon to know the ramifications or if it will be immediately challenged. 

Richard mentioned that the NEIWPCC states have been discussing USGS streamgaging costs and he asked that if anyone on the call was aware of any recent analysis of the gaging costs in their area, he would appreciate  if that information would be shared with him. 

  • Set next call August 27 at 10 a.m. Central time

Legislation and Policy Committee:  Stay abreast of national legislation important to ICWP membership; Educate and advocate for state/interstate positions to Congress and federal agencies

2019 Accomplishments:

  • Submitted a letter on Dept. of Interior Re-organization
  • Sent letter to ASA Rd James regarding PAS funding for full range of authorized purposes
  • Submitted WRDA20 support letter to Senate EPW committee

2020 Accomplishments:

  • Submitted WRDA20 support letter to House T&I committee

Issues for 2020 Workplan

  1. WRDA2020 Topics
    1. USACE Partnership Agreements
      1. Liability Clause
      1. Indemnification
    1. Other items for WRDA2020
      1. PAS cost share to include in-kind for Tech Services
      1. Major rehab costs relative to annual OMRR&R
      1. Spreading large OMRR&R costs over several years
      1. Support for FIRO
      1. Support for WIFIA
  2. USGS Streamgaging support—getting letter to more audiences and reviewing stakeholder list for omissions 
    1. Opportunity for a states’ support letter
    1. Whether to expand to Water Use and other topics beyond Streamgaging
  3. Drought Planning/Preparedness-NIDIS Support (& the DEWS)
    1. Items from NDRP’s Action Plan that ICWP supports
    1. Baseline funding for USDM
    1. Support for a new ag-centric product (better capture flash drought)
  4. Reauthorization topics for WUDR
  5. National Water Model—promoting water supply forecasting capabilities
  6. NOAA/DOI Improved Forecasting Action Plan
  7. NWS Atlas 14 Update
  8. Legislation Following:
    1. Resilient Communities Revolving Loan Fund Act (HR3779)
    1. Rep. Huffman FUTURE Drought Resiliency Act