Turn to the nation's most objective and informative daily environmental news resource to learn how the United States and key players around the world are responding to the environmental...
Key Development: EPA issues final integrated planning approach framework, allowing municipalities to modify permits, plans, and enforcement orders to allow better management of stormwater and sewer overflows.
Potential Impact: The framework is expected to give municipalities the flexibility to modify plans to suit their needs rather than being locked into long-term plans.
What's Next: EPA will publish practical examples of how this approach can be implemented by municipalities.
Municipalities will be allowed to modify permits or enforcement orders for managing combined sewer overflows and stormwater under an integrated planning framework released June 12 by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework contains a provision that allows municipalities for the first time to modify a plan, a permit, or an enforcement order to comply with Clean Water Act obligations.
The provision also gives municipalities the opportunity to identify, evaluate, and select new projects and make changes to ongoing projects and implementation schedules.
This provision, which is supported by the municipal wastewater treatment community, was absent from the earlier draft version of the framework that EPA released in January (43 ER 151, 1/20/12).
The final integrated planning framework responds to concerns by cash-strapped municipalities that are hard-pressed to build or upgrade water infrastructure to manage stormwater and wastewater overflows.
This approach offers municipalities the option to use either their existing Clean Water Act permits or enforcement orders to meet state water quality standards that might be violated owing to sewer and stormwater overflows. Most importantly, the approach allows municipalities to use green infrastructure, such as grassy swales and permeable pavement, to manage stormwater instead of requiring the use of traditional storm drains and other “gray” infrastructure. The approach also allows municipalities to use water quality trading to meet stormwater runoff requirements.
The framework, which was released in the form of memorandum to EPA regional administrators, was jointly written by Nancy Stoner, EPA's acting assistant administrator for water, and Cynthia Giles, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, who signed the document June 5.
In the memo, EPA identified six elements of an integrated plan. The flexibility provision is the final element.
The six elements are:
• a description and identification of human health threats, water quality challenges, and future requirements, such as new water quality-based requirements arising from a total maximum daily load set for nutrients;
• a description of existing wastewater and stormwater systems that would be part of an integrated plan;
• a process for enabling public participation in an integrated process;
• a process for identifying alternative means of compliance, such as the use of green infrastructure;
• a process for measuring and monitoring effectiveness of controls, compliance, and alternative measures such as green infrastructure; and
• a process for identifying, evaluating, and selecting proposed new projects or modifications to ongoing or planned projects and implementation schedules based on changing circumstances, and if this requires modification of a plan, permit, or order, collection of appropriate supporting information.
In the memo, EPA said it will provide further guidance and practical examples of how municipalities implement the integrated approach on its website in the future.
EPA also emphasized that municipalities will have to work closely with states that implement National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. The agency said the responsibility for developing an integrated plan rests with the municipality, which will set priorities for water projects and include a rationale and description for how these priorities reflect the impact on human health and a municipality's financial capability.
Chris Hornback, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies' senior director of regulatory affairs, told BNA that an initial read of the document revealed some positive changes.
Hornback said the vast majority of the document remains unchanged. But he said the addition of the provision allowing modifications should a utility's circumstances change is very significant. “It will allow utilities to be adaptive instead of being locked into a 20-year plan,” Hornback said.
Benjamin Grumbles, president of Clean Water America Alliance, told BNA, “EPA is taking a good and important step towards integrated, 'one water' management, but the broader journey won't be complete until many more miles are traveled and other aspects, such as drinking water requirements and actions, are taken into account.”
Drinking water utilities, represented by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, have told EPA and Stoner that an integrated approach that allows utilities to prioritize wastewater compliance needs will divert already scarce funds away from drinking water obligations.
The Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework is available at http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/integrated_planning_framework.pdf.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)