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Legislation & Policy Committee Meeting Summary March 25, 2021 Conference Call

  1. Call to Order—Kirsten Wallace, UMRBA; Chair called to order at 10:02 Central
  • Introductions of Participants on the call:  Kirsten Wallace, Sue Lowry, Sam Swartz, Peter Evans, Drew Dehoff, John Anderson. 
  • Internship project updates from 3 Interns for 2021–Katherine Tucker’s project is to survey several interstate commissions and organizations on the sources of funds for their operating budgets.  Aislinn McLaughlin is surveying state water plans for climate and drought plans. And Caroline Schwab is updating the USGS Streamgaging needs Fact Sheet. 
  • Discussion topics for Congressional panel during Roundtable in April.  Water Sub-cabinet has been raised by Tanya Trujillo, Interior Asst. Sec. for Water and Science.  Several of the positions that would participate in the Sub-cabinet are not yet named, but it’s encouraging that Biden administration appears to be wanting to keep the Sub-Cabinet level coordination on water continuing. 
  • Report out of other ICWP committee activities– an outcome of Board’s Strategic Planning to make sure we not siloing between committee activities.   Sue mentioned that the Water Planning committee heard from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART program yesterday and the NIDIS demo of the new drought.gov website for the Water Data & Science committee set for next week will be an all-committee meeting. 
  • Legislation to track: 
    • USGS/DOI FY21 Appropriations –Sue will be working with Geoff and John on contacts for each of the appropriations staff as well as topics from the ICWP Legislative Strategy Plan. 
    • FY22 Stakeholder Letter for USGS Streamgaging-Draft circulated to the committee and to Water Data and Science.  The letter is ready to be sent to possible signatory organizations and will focus on Federal Priority Streamgages, NGWOS and the Cooperative Matching funds for gages. 
    • Support for NOAA-NWS Atlas 14 Precipitation Frequency Estimates (Atlas 14) or other Extreme precipitation estimating tools—PRECIP and FLOODS legislation 
    • Sen. Markey’s interest in telecom infrastructure/tie to water infrastructure needs/flood mapping
    • WRDA 2022-start to develop topics for member’s requests
    • WRDA 2020 implementation- Principles and Guidelines from 2013-14
    • DWWIA

John Anderson walked us through the Appropriations schedule for this transition year.  A Skinny Budget showing Department wide President’s budget to be released next week.  A more detailed budget won’t be ready until May.  Congressional appropriations committees still moving forward even without a President’s budget to respond to.  Earmarks are back in a limited fashion.  Each office can ask for up to 10, but likely will get fewer included.  Member offices have forms for requests and different timelines for the submission of those forms.  Getting follow-up meetings set is important for getting projects into the committee bills. 

S. 914-DWWIA-may come to full Senate floor in late April.  House T & I jurisdiction over wastewater and another committee on water supply. WRDA2022 discussions start in late summer. USACE putting out Implementation Guidance for WRDA2020 and are holding stakeholder meetings.  

  • Review Action Items for 2021 and develop working groups to accomplish
    • Updates from Van Scoyoc to committee members

Discussion on how to get increased committee members and participation.  Now that VSA is on board, try to get the specific items that will be discussed on the meeting announcement and agenda so that committee members know what will be discussed and hopefully pique their interest enough to join the call.  Specific committee meetings could concentrate on more details of specific legislation.  The training on earmarks could be an issue to highlight. Make note of topics raised at Roundtable during congressional discussion as well for future committee calls. 

  • Other items for the Committee’s consideration
    • Asking ASDSO/ASCE to speak about the PRECIP and FLOODS acts could be good focus after hearing about earmarks at the May meeting. 
  •  Set next call or webinar—Set for May 6 at 3 p.m. Central

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 letters to House T&I committee, Senate EPW and to House and Senate leadership 

Issues for 2021 Workplan

  1. WRDA2022 Preparation Topics
  • USGS Streamgaging support—getting letter to more audiences and reviewing stakeholder list for omissions 
    • Opportunity for a states’ support letter
    • Whether to expand to Water Use and other topics beyond Streamgaging
  • Drought Planning/Preparedness-NIDIS Support (& the DEWS)
    • Baseline funding for USDM
    • Support for a new ag-centric product (better capture flash drought)
  • Reauthorization topics for WUDR
  • National Water Model—promoting water supply forecasting capabilities
  • NOAA/DOI Improved Forecasting Action Plan
  • NWS Atlas 14 –Support for PRECIP legislation
  • Legislation Following:

2021 Action Plan Items

  1. Provide broader leadership on PPA Liability and Indemnification Barriers
    1. Pursue Congressional hearing on this issue
    1. Arrange for meeting with USACE Office of Counsel
  2. Develop Advocacy “How To” webinar series
  3. Facilitate a national conversation on Extreme Precipitation Products and Models
    1. Invite organizations to form coalition to work on issue

Arrange Forum in 2021 to hear current state of Atlas 14 and other non-federal products that provide similar extreme precip estimates