Water Well Journal

January 2017

Water Well Journal

Issue link: https://read.dmtmag.com/i/767379

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Page 13 of 63

Industry NEWSLINE Congress Passes WIIN Act, Including Savings Act I n the waning hours of the 114th Con- gress, the House of Representatives and Senate passed the Water Infrastruc- ture Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN), which included several provi- sions important to members of the National Ground Water Association, including the Savings Act. The Presi- dent signed the legislation into law on December 16. The Savings Act ensures small com- munities consider wells and well sys- tems when considering community water systems and also ensures commu- nities have the technical resources avail- able to make the most cost-effective decisions. The Savings Act effort was led by the Water Systems Council with support from NGWA. The legislation was passed on a broad bipartisan basis and includes several items of interest to NGWA members beyond the Savings Act. In addition, the legislation authorizes sup- port for drinking water infrastructure improvements in communities impacted by lead-contaminated drinking water, like Flint, Michigan. It also authorizes spending for investment on major water infrastructure projects through the Water Infrastructure Financing and Innovation Act, which supports funding for managed aquifer recharge projects. The legislation likewise contained compromise provisions to address the drought in the West. The compromise would include an increase in water de- liveries to drought-stricken agricultural communities in the West, which drew concerns from environmental groups who believed the move violated the Endangered Species Act. In exchange for this provision, funding for water recycling, water reuse, and desalination projects were authorized. No Action Taken on Geothermal Heat Pumps Tax Credits Following an intense lobbying effort by NGWA and its allies, Congress failed to generate support to pass an extension of tax credits for installation of geo- thermal heat pumps and other renewable energy technologies. Throughout the year, efforts were underway to extend both residential and commercial instal- lation of the technologies in order to put geothermal heat pumps on the same level with solar and wind, which each got five-year extensions in 2015. Despite NGWA's efforts, the election provided Republicans with no real ap- petite for negotiating with the Obama administration on a tax package. Instead, Republicans plan to pursue comprehensive tax reform in 2017. Though the tax credits will expire on December 31, 2016, NGWA will not stop working to ensure all renewable technologies are able to compete on an even playing field. NGWA plans to work actively throughout the 115th Congress to shape the tax reform in a way that promotes increased use of geothermal heat pumps. Consumer Confidence Improves in November W ith ongoing job and economic growth, consumer confidence im- proved in November 2016. Consumers were optimistic about both the current situation and the near-term outlook. The Conference Board reported the Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 107.1 in November, from an upwardly revised 100.8 in October. Both the pres- ent situation index and the expectations index rebounded. The present situation index increased to 130.3 from 123.1 and the expectations index hit 91.7 up from 86. Consumers were quite optimistic about current business conditions. Con- sumers' assessments of current business conditions shifted to "good" from both "bad" and "normal." The share of re- spondents rating business conditions "good" rose by 2.7% from 26.5% to 29.2%, with the net gain coming from the net declines in assessments of "bad" (2.5%) and "normal" (0.2%). Expectations of business conditions over the next six months were mixed. The share of respondents expecting "same" increased from 71.8% to 74.7%. Most of the 2.9% net increase (1.8%) came from the share of respondents ex- pecting future business conditions to be worse, an upgrade, while the rest (1.1%) came from the share of respondents expecting better business conditions, a downgrade. Similar to consumers' assessments of current business conditions, consumers' assessments of current employment conditions strengthened. The share of respondents reporting jobs were "plentiful" increased from 25.3% to 26.9%. All of the 1.6% net increase was the result of a net decline in assessments of "jobs not so plentiful." Assessments of jobs "hard to get" were unchanged. Expectations of employment over the next six months improved. The share of respondents expecting "fewer jobs" de- clined from 16.6% to 13.8%, while the shares of respondents expecting "more jobs" and "same jobs" increased. Washington's UST Loan Program May Indicate Shift in Cleanup Responsibility The Underground Storage Tank Re- volving Loan and Grant Program pro- vides funding to current UST owners and operators to clean up contamination caused by USTs and replace or upgrade tank infrastructure. The program is jointly administered by the Washington State Pollution Liability Insurance Agency and the Washington State Department of Health. Only current UST owners or opera- tors are eligible for funding. Landown- ers affected by legacy or migrating contamination are not eligible for this program. Grants and loans are only available to current owners and operators of petroleum USTs. According to a November 28, 2016 article by Marten Law, despite its small scope the program could indicate a shift in some responsibility for cleaning up historical contamination away from the Washington State Department of Ecol- ogy to other agencies. This could be the approach other states take with their UST cleanup programs. The Department of Ecology, under Washington's state law, currently regu- lates more than 9200 tanks at more than 3400 facilities including gas stations, industrial, commercial properties, and governmental entities. The department waterwelljournal.com 12 January 2017 WWJ

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