Integrated Planning: An Old Idea is New Again

Posted by Tim Williams
March 28, 2013
 

 

WEF, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Association of Clean Water Administrators, and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies are offering a series of workshops on implementation of EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework, and I was pleased to participate in the March 12 workshop for Region 7 in Olathe, KS.

 

More than 60 representatives from municipalities, water utilities and state agencies participated, including officials from EPA headquarters and the agency’s Region 7 (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa) office who presented their perspectives on the framework, which was released June 5, 2012. In my opening remarks, I reflected on the fact that although the Clean Water Act (CWA) has been highly effective, many stakeholder groups (including WEF) have concluded that some aspects of the 1972 legislation are outdated. In fact, WEF has a Position Statement  that calls for "modernization" of the CWA. That statement calls for "site-specific Watershed Management Plans [that can] serve as the adaptive management framework for the integration of the disparate programs." The bad news is that that  despite the urgings of WEF and others, Congress has not passed any significant amendments to the CWA since 1987.  The good news is that Integrated Planning offers municipalities an opportunity to request approval for a site-specific adaptive management approach as part of their NPDES permit or in an enforcement order.

 

The EPA framework is a great opportunity for municipalities to utilize flexibilities that are already embedded in the CWA or EPA regulations, based on plans that must be approved by states and EPA. State representatives at the March 12 workshop were generally positive about the EPA approach, and said that in some cases it mirrors efforts already underway to synchronize permits and consider affordability.  Municipal representatives supported the framework, but some were concerned about implementation through enforcement orders instead of permits. The bottom line: communities with permits coming up for renewal who think they might benefit from an Integrated Plan should initiate an early dialogue with their state and EPA region.

 

One insight that came out during the March 12 discussion was that, while municipalities and states like to complain about “siloed” programs and a lack of coordination by EPA, the fact is that in many communities drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater are housed in similar siloes, managed by different people, in different agencies or departments, and with differing geographic coverage.  Likewise, many states manage drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater in different offices.  As Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us!”

 

Johnson County Wastewater (Kansas) hosted the meeting and lunch was provided by Black and Veatch and HDR.  The next workshop  for EPA Region 10 (Portland, April 3) is closed, but you can still register for Region 5 (Indianapolis, May 1), and other workshops will be scheduled soon. I’d encourage any interested WEF members to attend. 

 

 03/28/2013Permanent link

Integrated Planning: An Old Idea Is New Again  ()
 

Although Congress has not passed any significant amendments to the Clean Water Act since 1987, there is a bit of good news: Integrated Planning offers municipalities an opportunity to request approval for a site-specific adaptive management approach as part of their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit or in an enforcement order. 

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Integrated Planning: An Old Idea Is New Again

 Permanent link

Integrated Planning: An Old Idea is New Again

Posted by Tim Williams
March 28, 2013
 

 

WEF, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Association of Clean Water Administrators, and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies are offering a series of workshops on implementation of EPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework, and I was pleased to participate in the March 12 workshop for Region 7 in Olathe, KS.

 

More than 60 representatives from municipalities, water utilities and state agencies participated, including officials from EPA headquarters and the agency’s Region 7 (Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa) office who presented their perspectives on the framework, which was released June 5, 2012. In my opening remarks, I reflected on the fact that although the Clean Water Act (CWA) has been highly effective, many stakeholder groups (including WEF) have concluded that some aspects of the 1972 legislation are outdated. In fact, WEF has a Position Statement  that calls for "modernization" of the CWA. That statement calls for "site-specific Watershed Management Plans [that can] serve as the adaptive management framework for the integration of the disparate programs." The bad news is that that  despite the urgings of WEF and others, Congress has not passed any significant amendments to the CWA since 1987.  The good news is that Integrated Planning offers municipalities an opportunity to request approval for a site-specific adaptive management approach as part of their NPDES permit or in an enforcement order.

 

The EPA framework is a great opportunity for municipalities to utilize flexibilities that are already embedded in the CWA or EPA regulations, based on plans that must be approved by states and EPA. State representatives at the March 12 workshop were generally positive about the EPA approach, and said that in some cases it mirrors efforts already underway to synchronize permits and consider affordability.  Municipal representatives supported the framework, but some were concerned about implementation through enforcement orders instead of permits. The bottom line: communities with permits coming up for renewal who think they might benefit from an Integrated Plan should initiate an early dialogue with their state and EPA region.

 

One insight that came out during the March 12 discussion was that, while municipalities and states like to complain about “siloed” programs and a lack of coordination by EPA, the fact is that in many communities drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater are housed in similar siloes, managed by different people, in different agencies or departments, and with differing geographic coverage.  Likewise, many states manage drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater in different offices.  As Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us!”

 

Johnson County Wastewater (Kansas) hosted the meeting and lunch was provided by Black and Veatch and HDR.  The next workshop  for EPA Region 10 (Portland, April 3) is closed, but you can still register for Region 5 (Indianapolis, May 1), and other workshops will be scheduled soon. I’d encourage any interested WEF members to attend. 

 

Posted by Jonathan Byus at 03/28/2013 02:05:02 PM | 


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Tim WilliamsPosted by:
Tim Williams, Senior Director for Government Affairs, WEF 

Tim Williams is senior director for government affairs at the Water Environment Federation. He first came to work for WEF in 1984 and has significant experience in legislation, regulation and general water policy. Tim served as staff director for the Water Quality 2000 project, which presented recommendations for a 21st Century water policy, and was intended to serve as input into the next 1992 reauthorization of the Clean Water Act — with many of those recommendations still relevant today!

Prior to joining the WEF staff, Tim worked for the Maryland General Assembly and on the staff of former U.S. senator Charles Mathias, who is recognized as the father of the Chesapeake Bay Program.  He earned a B.S. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland.