Recognizing the economic and environmental importance of clean water and healthy watersheds, the Obama administration released a national clean water framework on April 27. This framework outlines a series of 25 existing and planned actions and programs across key federal agencies, including USEPA, USCOE, USDA, and USDOI. Significantly, it includes draft federal guidance to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act nationwide. Also included are innovative partnerships and programs to improve water quality and water efficiency; and initiatives to revitalize communities and economies by restoring rivers and critical watersheds. The guidance will soon appear in the Federal Register with a 60-day comment period.
“The proposed joint EPA and Army guidance will clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction and help the Corps and its partner agencies protect important aquatic resources and watersheds that communities rely on for their quality of life and essential services.", said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy. The guidance is open for 60 days of public comment to all allow all stakeholders to provide input and feedback before it is finalized.
WEF’ s Government Affairs Committee is considering developing comments on this draft guidance. WEF organized a conference call with Nancy Stoner, Acting EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, and her staff on April 28 to discuss this draft guidance. Ms. Stoner reiterated that EPA is very interested in receiving comments on this guidance; and, they do anticipate using such comments to both improve the guidance and inform a proposed rulemaking that EPA anticipates doing once the guidance is final. WEF invited NACWA, AWWA, AMWA, APWA and ACWA to participate in this call.