David Deaton

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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WASHINGTON (September 18, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrapped up a collaborative week of actions and local events that highlighted water reuse and water infrastructure. This week the agency’s actions included supporting water infrastructure affordability, advancing the National Water Reuse Action Plan (WRAP), and announcing a $69 million Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan to help finance the Pure Water Oceanside (Calif.) Project and a $348.6 million WIFIA loan to the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities. To wrap up the week, EPA Assistant Administrator David Ross and EPA Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest John Busterud toured the Monterey One Water (Calif.) recycled water projects on Friday. These actions highlight EPA’s commitment to helping local communities meet 21st century water quality challenges.

Financial Capability Assessment

On Tuesday, EPA announced its proposed 2020 Financial Capability Assessment (FCA) for the Clean Water Act, which will help communities plan for water infrastructure improvements. This action marks the first time in more than 20 years the FCA has been updated. Through the 2020 FCA, EPA is seeking to support water utilities that serve economically disadvantaged communities and provide vital clean water services that support public health, the environment and local economies.

“EPA is working to ensure that all Americans—regardless of their zip code—have clean water for drinking and recreation,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “With this action, the agency is supporting wastewater utilities to help them better serve disadvantaged communities that have financial challenges.”

“It has been a long time since the 1997 Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development reflected EPA’s actual practices when reviewing the affordability of Clean Water Act control measures,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “I am glad we finally are providing transparency regarding the tools available to communities to inform EPA enforcement decisions and how we use that information.”

Water Reuse

On Wednesday, at the virtual 35th Annual WateReuse Symposium, Assistant Administrator Ross delivered remarks that outlined a vision for reuse where communities, agriculture, and businesses in both water-scarce and water-rich regions increasingly turn to reuse to diversify their supply portfolios for current and future needs. Additionally, during the symposium, WateReuse President Gilbert Trejo presented the association’s 2020 President’s Award to EPA’s WRAP team for facilitating the collaborative development of the Water Reuse Action Plan, released earlier this year. The WRAP identifies 37 specific actions led by a spectrum of federal, state, local and other water sector interests to improve the security, sustainability and resilience of our nation’s water resources. Over the coming months, EPA will be seeking input from stakeholders that will help inform the next iteration of the Action Plan, which is slated for release in Spring 2021.

“Water reuse must be a central theme in EPA’s efforts to meet 21st century demands for water,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “While we are extremely proud of the progress made, the WRAP was designed as a living plan where EPA and its partners can build momentum from successes to continue diversifying our nation’s water portfolio while supporting our water economy for generations to come.”

WIFIA

On Thursday, at an event with Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss, U.S. Representative Mike Levin and other officials, Assistant Administrator David Ross announced a $69 million WIFIA loan to help finance the Pure Water Oceanside Project. This innovative water reuse project will enhance the city’s water system by constructing a new advanced water purification facility and expanding the existing recycled water distribution system. The Project will supply Mission Basin with an additional 4.5 million gallons per day (MGD) of highly purified water that will improve overall water quality in the aquifer, relieve over-pumping conditions and reduce discharges to the Pacific Ocean. The project will also reduce the demand for imported water by providing a local, drought-proof water supply produced by the city.

“EPA’s support for this project illustrates two agency priorities as we work to meet 21st century water demands—reusing the water that we have and revamping our nation’s water infrastructure,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “With WIFIA’s support, Pure Water Oceanside will be a landmark project as EPA looks to foster additional innovative water reuse strategies and infrastructure investments across the country.”

“By improving water infrastructure, we are improving the quality of life and public health in our communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “Through the WIFIA loan program, EPA is happy to support the Pure Water Oceanside Project in ensuring access to clean and safe drinking water for decades to come.”

Additionally, at an event held Thursday with Salt Lake City Council Chairman Chris Wharton, Utah Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Scott Baird, Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Deputy Director Jesse Stewart and other dignitaries, EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento announced a $348.6 million WIFIA loan to the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities. This WIFIA loan will help finance Salt Lake City’s Water Reclamation Facility Nutrient Project, which will reconstruct Salt Lake City’s 55-year old water reclamation facility and implement an additional treatment process to enable the city to meet the new, state limit on total phosphorus of 1 mg/L as required by January 1, 2025. In addition, the project will increase the system’s resiliency to seismic and flooding events.

“Through WIFIA, EPA is playing a critical role in President Trump’s efforts to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, improve public health and environmental protections and create good, local jobs,” said EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento. “This loan closing marks EPA’s 28th WIFIA loan and the first WIFIA loan in Utah. Nationally, the WIFIA program has now provided $6.1 billion in credit assistance to help finance $13 billion for water infrastructure while creating 27,200 jobs.”

“The reconstruction of Salt Lake City’s aging water reclamation facility and EPA’s financing tools provide an important win for the entire region,” said EPA Mountains and Plains Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin. “Together, we are improving the environmental and ecosystem health of the Great Salt Lake, improving the resiliency of the community’s vital wastewater services, saving the city and its ratepayers money, and creating jobs in the process.”

Water Reuse Site Visit

Finally, on Friday Assistant Administrator Ross and EPA Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest John Busterud toured the Monterey One Water (Calif.) recycled water projects. The wastewater agency supports water reuse goals for both drinking water and agricultural purposes. The first stop on the tour highlighted the Pure Water Monterey’s multi-stage purification process that turns wastewater into 5 MGD of safe, reliable and sustainable drinking water. The second stop underscored the potential for water reuse to support agricultural production. The tour demonstrated the processes used to provide 4 billion gallons per year of recycled water for the irrigation of food crops, reducing reliance on pumped groundwater.

“For decades, water reuse has helped Monterey County diversify its water supply. Key agricultural fields threatened by seawater intrusion have remained productive with the addition of recycled water that is safe for food crops while our new advanced water purification facility uses groundwater replenishment to strengthen a vital potable water supply,” said Monterey One Water General Manager Paul Sciuto. “Projects like these demonstrate the viability and benefits of federal, state, and local advancements in water reuse to build a more resilient water future.”   

What Are They Saying About the 2020 Financial Capability Assessment:

“The Conference of Mayors has been working with the US EPA since the 1990s outlining the growing burden of financial impacts that unfunded Clean Water Act mandates have on our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. This new affordability guidance provides greater transparency and additional tools to allow cities to work in conjunction with EPA to find solutions that protect public health in a more affordable manner. We appreciate EPA’s willingness to listen to our concerns and work with us to develop solutions,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Tom Cochran.

“Affordability is a pressing concern for water and wastewater utility customers, even more so in this time of pandemic. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is pleased that EPA has released this proposal for public review and comment. It is a genuine effort to ensure that clean and safe water is affordable for low-income customers,” said AWWA Executive Director of Government Affairs G. Tracy Mehan.

 “NACWA applauds EPA’s hard work over the past several years to advance a proposed financial capability assessment that strives to better account for potential impacts on low-income populations,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. “This has never been more important than now as utilities and ratepayers struggle with the financial impacts caused by the ongoing pandemic.”

“WEF is excited to see EPA move forward with the proposed 2020 Financial Capability Assessment for the Clean Water Act,” said WEF President Jackie Jarrell. “We believe this new guidance, when finalized and implemented, will help utilities across the country to more accurately ascertain how much their customers and communities can afford to pay for compliance with Clean Water Act requirements, particularly by considering household-level affordability that better reflects the financial situation for lower-income ratepayers.”

What Are They Saying About the WIFIA Loans:

“I am proud and excited for the City of Oceanside and everyone who has worked so hard on the Pure Water Oceanside project. Now more than ever, it’s critically important that we diversify our water supply. Thanks to Pure Water Oceanside, the City of Oceanside, and this EPA loan, we are one step closer to achieving that independence,” said U.S. Representative Mike Levin (CA). “This is an extraordinary milestone and will make a huge difference for countless families in North County. The cooperation between local, state, and federal governments is truly impressive, and I’ll continue to support this project in any way I can.”

“The City of Oceanside is proud to be a leader in sustainability and water reliability. Pure Water Oceanside marks the next big step for our City as the project will safeguard against drought, reduce our dependence on imported water, and create an exceptionally pure drinking water supply,” said Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss. “I appreciate the U.S. EPA in their funding support as it is a critical aspect for Oceanside’s ability to continue to improve our local water supplies while minimizing our impact to our rate payers.”

“Water is a vital resource in the West and we need to make long term plans to ensure a safe and plentiful supply,” said U.S. Representative John Curtis (UT). “I appreciate that this WIFIA loan will help Utah for decades to come by updating water infrastructure, allowing our children and grandchildren to have cleaner water than ever before.”

“The new water reclamation facility is one of the largest public works projects in Salt Lake City history,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “With federal WIFIA financing, our residents will benefit from a longer loan repayment period and deferred payments for up to five years after the project’s completion. This creative financing model, along with collaboration of federal, state, and local agencies, is pivotal to growing our infrastructure and to providing service and greater equity to our entire community.”

“EPA’s help in financing the Salt Lake City Water Reclamation Facility will protect public health and the environment by upgrading a vital piece of local infrastructure critical to protecting the Great Salt Lake,” said Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Scott Baird. “Nutrient pollution is a widespread and costly environmental issue. With the help of EPA, Salt Lake City and state lawmakers, Utah is making important strides in reducing and regulating excess nitrogen and phosphorus in Utah waters.”

“Our decision to pursue a WIFIA loan for the new water reclamation facility was a key piece of our leadership team’s deliberative financial strategy for the project and responsible spending of public dollars,” said Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Director Laura Briefer. “We estimate WIFIA financing will save our City up to $100 million over the life of the project when compared to traditional bonding. This facility will serve many generations to come, and it is evidence of Salt Lake City’s longtime commitment to environmental stewardship and protecting public health.”  

Friday, 18 September 2020 17:05

SITUATION UPDATE: COVID-19 September 18, 2020

OSDH Health Advisory

This week, there are 11 additional counties in the "orange" risk phase. OSDH continues to monitor closely the statewide hospitalization trends for COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Alert map will be updated every Friday in the Situation Update at 11:00 a.m. This week’s map can be seen in this update below the test results chart.

As OSDH continues to meet with stakeholders across the state, the COVID-19 Alert Map is subject to further revisions as science and public health guidance advances with the ongoing pandemic.

As of this advisory, there are 74,567 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Oklahoma. 

There are 9 additional deaths identified to report. No deaths were identified in the past 24 hours.  

  • Two in Grady County, two males in the 65 or older age group. 
  • One in Harper County, one female in the 65 or older age group. 
  • One in Le Flore County, one male in the 65 or older age group. 
  • Two in Oklahoma County, one female and one male in the 65 or older age group.   
  • One in Payne County, one male in the 65 or older age group. 
  • One in Sequoyah County, one male in the 65 or older age group. 
  • One in Tulsa County, one male in the 50 - 64 age group. 

There are 939 total deaths in the state.

For more information, visit coronavirus.health.ok.gov.

COVID-19 Oklahoma Test Results

Confirmed Positive Cases

74,567

*Total Cumulative Negative Specimens to Date  

979,650

*Total Cumulative Number of Specimens to Date  

1,066,896

**Currently Hospitalized 

516

Total Cumulative Hospitalizations

5,755

Identified Deaths in the Past 24 hours

0

Total Cumulative Deaths

939

*The total includes laboratory information provided to OSDH at the time of the report. Total counts may not reflect unique individuals. 

**This number is a combination of hospitalized positive cases and hospitalized persons under investigation, as reported by hospitals at the time of the report. The data reflect a change in calculation and should not be compared to prior data. 

***The purpose of publishing aggregated statistical COVID-19 data through the OSDH Dashboard, the Executive Order Report, and the Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report is to support the needs of the general public in receiving important and necessary information regarding the state of the health and safety of the citizens of Oklahoma. These resources may be used only for statistical purposes and may not be used in any way that would determine the identity of any reported cases.

Data Source: Acute Disease Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.
*As of 2020-09-18 at 7:00 a.m.

Oklahoma COVID-19 Alert System

 sept 18 map

COVID-19 Alert Map

As of September 17, 2020

Detailed case statistics are published on the website. Click here for more information.

Friday, 18 September 2020 16:58

Soccer Opens At Home Against LSU

Razorback Soccer Press Release

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Arkansas Soccer starts the 2020 fall campaign with a home opener against the LSU Tigers at Razorback Field on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 3:00 p.m. CT. The Razorbacks are coming off their first SEC regular season title in school history after matching a program record with eight conference wins. Arkansas also earned the program’s first national seed at the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the second round for the third time in four years.

Match 1 Info

Opponent: LSU Tigers (3-12-3, 1-7-2 in 2019)

Date: Saturday, Sept. 19

First Kick: 3:00 p.m. CT

Live Stats: bit.ly/ArkvLSU

Live Stream: es.pn/2HbSyBh

Television: SEC Network

Scouting the Tigers

LSU will be led this season by returning All-SEC performers in senior defender Chiara Ritchie-Williams and sophomore midfielder Maddie Moreau. Ritchie-Williams was named to the 2017 All-SEC Second Team and played full minutes in 14 of the Tigers’ 18 matches last season. Moreau was the lone Tiger to be honored in the 2019 SEC Postseason Awards, being named Second Team All-SEC and to the All-Freshman Team.

The Tigers finished in last place in the West Division last season and missed an invite to the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala.

Attendance at Razorback Field this fall will be limited to season ticket holders, those on player pass lists and a limited number of University of Arkansas students. All tickets for the 2020 soccer season will be mobile. Season tickets to Arkansas’ four home matches are sold out, but all eight matches this season will be televised or streamed.

Fans are reminded that masks are always required at Razorback Field.  For additional information fans can head to the 2020 Razorback Soccer fan guide.

Quick Kicks

>> The Razorbacks are 9-14-3 all-time against LSU and 5-6-0 when playing in Fayetteville. However, Arkansas has won four of the last five meetings since 2016.

>> Arkansas won last year’s matchup in Baton Rouge, 4-0. It was the largest margin of victory against LSU since 1997.

>> The Razorbacks were picked by the SEC coaches to finish at the No. 1 spot in the preseason coaches’ poll released on Wednesday, Sept. 16 after winning their first regular season conference title in 2019.

>> Arkansas welcomed 15 newcomers to the 2020 squad, including three transfers. Ellie Podojil, Ainsley Jeffrey, McKenna Saul and Darby Douglas all joined the team in the spring.

>> The Razorbacks have won seven out of eight season openers under Coach Hale.

>> Arkansas holds a .905 winning percentage at Razorback Field the past two seasons with an 18-1-2 record.

>> The Razorbacks are returning 71 percent of goals scored after leading the SEC last season in total goals, assists and points.

>> The Hogs are coming off their fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and made it to the second round for the third time in four years.

>> Arkansas raked in SEC postseason awards in 2019 with head coach Colby Hale taking SEC Coach of the Year, senior Haley VanFossen winning SEC Defender of the Year and Anna Podojil being named SEC Freshman of the Year. All three were program firsts.

>> Parker Goins and Taylor Malham joined Podojil and VanFossen on the All-SEC First Team. It was just the second time in school history that Arkansas put four on the first team in one season.

 
 

OU Athletics Press Release

NORMAN — To achieve greater compliance with the University of Oklahoma's COVID-19 policies in the Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium student sections, the university's Athletics Department is announcing additional measures that will be implemented for the Sept. 26 home game with Kansas State and for all games to follow. The changes are the result of meetings amongst university officials and student leaders following the disappointing behaviors by some at the season's first game.

New measures include:

  • Explicit designation of seating sections on student tickets to eliminate any previous confusion about the proper location for student attendees
  • Clearer concourse signage at the entry ramps for the student sections
  • Establishment of student seating clusters in groups of 2 to 10
  • Clearly delineated prohibited seating sections marked by flagging tape

Security personnel will also be significantly increased throughout the student section to provide direction, monitor locations and provide support. Staff will work with game attendees in an effort to achieve compliance with seating and masking requirements. Attendees who do not cooperate are subject to removal from the stadium and may have future game attendance privileges revoked.

Aside from the steps that are being implemented, the university is considering the possibility of a reduction or elimination of student tickets and seating. Those steps have been tabled pending an evaluation of the new measures that will be implemented for the upcoming game.

ODWC Press Release

Last Saturday, more than 30 children in foster care and their families participated in the first “Fostering Outdoor Oklahoma Families” event. This collaborative partnership between Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS), Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC), State Sen. Paul Rosino, Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 123 (OKCFOP), International Association of Firefighters Local 157 (OKCFF) and the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation (OWCF) brought families and children together with first responders and Wildlife Department staff to enjoy an evening of fun, food and fishing.

The participating children in foster care received a new rod-reel-tackle combo purchased by OKCFF, OKCFOP and OWCF to use at the event and take home. The Foundation also gave fishing licenses to foster parents wanting to continue their families’ fishing adventures after the event.

Through the great national pastime of fishing, kids get to build confidence, social and emotional skills, communication and an appreciation for nature while getting them away from technology for a while. Fishing also allows families to build closer relationships by enjoying the activity together. And catching fish is just a lot of fun!

"Watching our kids and families interact with local police, firefighters and ODWC staff while reeling in fish after fish was so heartwarming," said OKDHS Director Justin Brown, who is also the state's Secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives. "Events like this demonstrate the positive changes happening within communities across the state thanks to these critical state and local partnerships. We are making joint responses that bring hope to Oklahoma’s children and families."

ODWC Director J.D. Strong said, "One of the highlights of my career was kicking off this new partnership with OKDHS. There's nothing more rewarding in life than sharing the joys of fishing with those who need more joy in their lives. This event was the launch of what we hope to spread statewide — teaching kids in foster care and their families how to reap the many rewards of getting outdoors to fish. We were truly blessed by the end of the evening."

OKCFF President Cameron Weems said, "As firefighters, we see daily the importance of the family situation in childrens' lives. The importance of fostering healthy relationships is vital, now more than ever. We are grateful for the opportunity to join with the OKDHS, ODWC, OWCF, Senator Paul Rosino, and the OKC Police Local 123 to play a part in helping foster parents enrich the bond they are creating with these kids. The smiles all around told us everything we needed to know about the success of the event!"

OKCFOP Vice President Mark Nelson said, "Multiple times a day, Oklahoma City officers respond to situations where children are involved. Far too often, these are less-than-desirable circumstances. When law enforcement is called upon to stand in the gap for these kids, we do so immediately and without fail.  As a foster family, my wife and I have learned firsthand of how we can make a difference. The Department of Wildlife and OKDHS giving law enforcement and fire the opportunity to interact with these families in such a positive way was life-changing. We are honored to have had a small part of such a wonderful event. Seeing those children grin from ear to ear automatically made us smile, too."

Rosino (R-Oklahoma City) said, "When I dreamed of this event, I could not have imagined the amazing impact for these children and families or for our first responders. Watching firefighters and police interact with families and giving kids such a positive experience that they will remember forever took my breath away. Every child left with big fishing stories and proud of their accomplishments for the night."

Organizers hope this successful event will kick off a new statewide program offering foster families and the children in their care an activity that’s wholesome, fun, and exciting to share together while growing knowledge and respect for the natural resources around them.

Families interested in learning more about foster care or applying to become a certified foster family in their community may visit okfosters.org to be connected to an area recruiter, or visit okbenefits.org to apply. Follow the prompts on the website to apply or call (800) 376-9729. Interested Oklahomans may also visit www.ourokdhs.org to join the agency's efforts to better serve the community through innovation and collaborative partnerships.

 

Friday, 18 September 2020 16:34

DPS Releases DA Findings in Shooting

The Department of Public Safety received correspondence from Craig County District Attorney Matthew J. Ballard concerning the officer-involved shooting that occurred on June 25, 2020, on the Will Rogers Turnpike. District Attorney Ballard has determined Trooper Cole acted appropriately under the circumstances and the shooting was justified under the facts and law.

Click here to review the full correspondence.

Click here to watch or download the dash camera of the incident.

Press Release

(STILLWATER, Oklahoma, Sept. 18, 2020) — Harmful algal blooms are a growing problem in water across the nation, but OSU researchers may have one piece of the solution thanks to groundbreaking research and new funding.

OSU is one of seven institutions that won $6,487,188 in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to research how to prevent and control these blooms.

“Harmful algal blooms are a serious and persistent problem across all 50 states,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a press release. “By expanding our knowledge of how to control and prevent the occurrence of these blooms, we can better protect our watersheds — especially our drinking water sources and recreational waters.”

OSU’s funds will go toward creating a solution to help with agricultural watering and runoff. Dr. Allen Apblett and Dr. Nick Materer are co-principal investigators for the grant.

“The objective of the research is to develop a novel technology for sustainably and economically preventing harmful algal blooms in farm watering ponds,” Apblett said.

The frequency of human health effects caused by freshwater harmful algal blooms has increased over the last three decades, Apblett said. “These blooms are caused by excess plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in the water,” he added.

“When too much nitrogen and phosphorus are introduced into water by human activities, algae will grow faster than ecosystems can handle. As a result, the water quality, food resources and habitats deteriorate.”

Apblett’s team is developing a solution based on the absorption of plant nutrients in pond water. They plan to use novel materials that when saturated with the nutrients can be used as a time-release fertilizer, he said.

“The technology will provide a sustainable solution for the prevention of hazardous algal blooms while also reducing the environmental and financial costs associated with the decontamination of ponds and the production of fertilizers,” Apblett said.

The technology will be able to be adapted to different sources such as septic tanks, animal feedlots, brewery waste, municipal wastewater and urban storm water runoff, he said.

“Harmful algal blooms pose a variety of dangers to human health and to the health of aquatic ecosystems,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU’s vice president for research. “Dr. Apblett’s research offers novel solutions to this pernicious problem. It’s a great example of how science directly benefits society.”

 

Oklahoma State University is a modern land-grant university that prepares students for success. OSU has more than 34,000 students across its five-campus system and more than 24,000 on its combined Stillwater and Tulsa campuses, with students from all 50 states and around 100 nations. Established in 1890, OSU has graduated more than 275,000 students to serve the state of Oklahoma, the nation and the world.

WASHINGTON (September 15, 2020) —  Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposed 2020 Financial Capability Assessment (FCA) for the Clean Water Act, which will help communities plan for water infrastructure improvements.Through the 2020 FCA, EPA is seeking to support water utilities that serve economically disadvantaged communities and provide vital clean water services that support public health, the environment and local economies. This is the first time in more than 20 years this document has been updated.

“EPA is working to ensure that all Americans—regardless of their zip code—have clean water for drinking and recreation,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “With this action, the agency is supporting wastewater utilities to help them better serve disadvantaged communities that have financial challenges.”

The 2020 FCA proposal explores how customers’ ability to pay for service impacts planning for capital expenditures and operation and maintenance needed to support Clean Water Act compliance. This guidance is used to evaluate the financial capability of a community when developing a schedule (i.e., plan) for water infrastructure improvements. EPA’s proposed FCA 2020 guidance includes new metrics to inform a community’s implementation schedule, including indicators that more accurately reflect how much low-income communities can afford to pay for water infrastructure upgrades.

“It has been a long time since the 1997 Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development reflected EPA’s actual practices when reviewing the affordability of Clean Water Act control measures,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “I am glad we finally are providing transparency regarding the tools available to communities to inform EPA enforcement decisions and how we use that information.”

"The Conference of Mayors has been working with the US EPA since the 1990s outlining the growing burden of financial impacts that unfunded Clean Water Act mandates have on our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. This new affordability guidance provides greater transparency and additional tools to allow cities to work in conjunction with EPA to find solutions that protect public health in a more affordable manner. We appreciate EPA’s willingness to listen to our concerns and work with us to develop solutions,” said U.S. Conference of Mayors Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Tom Cochran.

 “Affordability is a pressing concern for water and wastewater utility customers, even more so in this time of pandemic. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is pleased that EPA has released this proposal for public review and comment. It is a genuine effort to ensure that clean and safe water is affordable for low-income customers,” said AWWA Executive Director of Government Affairs G. Tracy Mehan.

 “NACWA applauds EPA’s hard work over the past several years to advance a proposed financial capability assessment that strives to better account for potential impacts on low-income populations,” said NACWA CEO Adam Krantz. “This has never been more important than now as utilities and ratepayers struggle with the financial impacts caused by the ongoing pandemic.”

“WEF is excited to see EPA move forward with the proposed 2020 Financial Capability Assessment for the Clean Water Act,” said WEF President Jackie Jarrell. “We believe this new guidance, when finalized and implemented, will help utilities across the country to more accurately ascertain how much their customers and communities can afford to pay for compliance with Clean Water Act requirements, particularly by considering household-level affordability that better reflects the financial situation for lower-income ratepayers.”

When finalized, the 2020 FCA will support negotiations of schedules for implementing Clean Water Act requirements for municipalities and local authorities. Upon publication in the federal register, EPA will accept comment for 30 days via the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov/, referencing Docket ID No. EPA–HQ– OW–2020–0426.

Background

As part of the 2016 Appropriation, Congress directed EPA to contract with the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to create a framework for “community affordability.” The resulting report from NAPA included several recommendations for improving EPA’s 1997 FCA Guidance and 2014 FCA Framework. The proposed 2020 FCA reflects these recommendations and updates EPA’s methodology for evaluating a community’s capability to fund CWA projects/programs. Additional information about the proposed 2020 FCA is available at https://www.epa.gov/waterfinancecenter.

EVs are an opportunity for the state to innovate and improve a broken tax system.

(OKLAHOMA CITY)— On Thursday, September 10, 2020, the House Transportation Committee heard from industry experts on the future of electric vehicles and the many ways Oklahoma can capitalize on the rapidly growing industry.

“As the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Oklahoma City area, the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) approach accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles as deeply rooted in the goals and objectives of our long-range transportation plan,” John M. Sharp, ACOG Deputy Director said.  “As the affordability and availability of EVs has increased, a unique opportunity has emerged for our state to significantly decrease emissions from cars.”

Interim study IS20-033 was requested by Representative Brian Hill, who recognizes the fiscal effects of the shift to electric vehicles on Oklahoma, a state which relies on gasoline pump taxes to repair roads and bridges.

"Across our nation, the electric vehicle sector is growing rapidly. With many national fleets currently converting to electric vehicles and projections of over half of the transportation market converting by 2040, the time is now to begin examining how Oklahoma can bring this industry to our state and pursue job growth and economic diversification,” Hill said. “As the Energy State and the crossroads of America, Oklahoma is the perfect place for this thriving and growing industry to build the future.”

Electrification of transportation is happening quickly, with the EV industry already employing many Oklahomans. Industry experts emphasized the benefits of Oklahoma acting swiftly to adapt to the changing market.

“A vibrant multimodal transportation system is vital to safely and efficiently moving people, goods and services and to provide for Oklahoma’s future economic viability and competitiveness,” said Tim J. Gatz, Secretary of Transportation and Director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. “To meet this challenge, it is imperative that we have a vision for Oklahoma’s 21st century transportation system along with an innovative, modernized revenue framework and investment strategy that will support user needs for mobility, safety, improved infrastructure conditions and enhanced system reliability”.

Electricity fuels Oklahoma and employs thousands of Oklahomans. Oklahoma has the energy resources to become a leader in the global electric transportation market. Industry experts advised that state lawmakers must act quickly to benefit most from the inevitable change.

"The reality is that we are at the precipice of an enormous shift towards the electrification of transportation. The energy sector plays a critical role in this shift. Oklahoma has the opportunity now to claim its mantle as a worldwide energy leader and be at the forefront of this transition, reaping the economic benefits that entails,” said Jonathan Gray, Manager of Public Policy and Institutional Affairs for Enel North America.

 

About the Advanced Power Alliance: The Advanced Power Alliance is the industry trade association promoting the development of energy resources as clean, reliable, affordable, and infinite sources of power. 

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, the APA is the advanced power industry's voice within the fourteen states of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) systems: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. Learn more at https://poweralliance.org/. 

About the Oklahoma Power Alliance: The Oklahoma Power Alliance is the industry trade association representing members of the Oklahoma clean energy industry, project developers and investors, landowners, manufacturers and suppliers, counties and school districts, and the more than 9,000 employees working in Oklahoma in the renewables industry. 

Oklahoma Power Alliance represents its members in Oklahoma's policy forums, seeking to encourage and support the production of electricity through the use of our state's vast renewable energy resources. As part of an "all of the above" solution, wind energy, solar power and battery storage are securing our energy independence. Learn more at https://okpoweralliance.com/.

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, led an interim study Tuesday regarding the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Attendees heard from Interim Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye, who said the state was ill-prepared at the beginning of the pandemic in March, but the situation has improved across the state since.

"It has really been a pretty impressive response by the state," Frye said in the study. "We started with less than nothing… and we have done well with where we are compared to the rest of the nation."

Frye said at the beginning of the pandemic, the state did not have an adequate supply of personal protection equipment for healthcare professionals, nor did the state have testing capabilities. Both of these situations have improved and Oklahoma is often used as a model for the rest of the nation of a good response to the pandemic.

Two Oklahoma doctors were invited by Roberts to speak before the committee. Dr. Chad Chamberlain told attendees that policymakers should consider multiple factors that are affected by public health decisions, including mental health issues as a result from isolation, and Dr. Jim Meehan encouraged proactive practices and bolstering bodies’ defenses to be better prepared to fight viral illnesses. He discussed an effective vitamin protocol that includes Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, melatonin and zinc.

“I appreciate our speakers for lending their valuable expertise and experience to this important topic,” Roberts said. “It’s important to reflect on how our state has improved since the early days of the pandemic and begin the process of addressing the issues that arose so that, in the event of a similar devastating situation, we are better prepared.”

Roberts chairs the House Public Health Committee. A recording of the study is available at https://okhouse.gov/Video/Default.aspx.

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