NACWA Engages Senior EPA Officials to Talk Budget, Regulatory Improvement and WOTUS

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NACWA engaged senior EPA officials on a range of policy issues in three separate meetings over the past week, advancing many of the Association’s key advocacy priorities with Agency officials.

Association staff met with Sarah Greenwalt, Senior Advisor to EPA Administrator Pruitt for Water and Cross-Cutting Issues, and Byron Brown, Administrator Pruitt’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, on April 20 to discuss NACWA’s top priority issues, including infrastructure funding, as laid out in the Association’s letter to Mr. Pruitt from February. Brown is EPA’s liaison to the Trump Administration’s broader discussions on infrastructure funding, and it is clear that water is a part of the ongoing discussions around a potential infrastructure package. Administration officials are focused on removing barriers to infrastructure spending to ensure that whatever money is made available can be spent quickly and efficiently. NACWA will provide the Administrator’s staff with recommendations for regulatory improvement in advance of the upcoming May 15 deadline for input. 

In a separate meeting on April 18 with Mike Shapiro, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water, and all of the Office’s senior staff, NACWA discussed the President’s proposed budget and water sector efforts to increase federal investment in the revolving loan fund programs. NACWA stressed that it is also working to ensure that other elements of EPA’s budget – specifically the geographical programs for the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay and other areas, as well as funding for nonpoint source controls and state program administration – be at least maintained at current funding levels.  Additionally, NACWA discussed ongoing efforts on the Hill regarding integrated planning and affordability, and a developing issue in Long Island Sound involving nutrients. On the regulatory reform front, NACWA discussed its work to identify areas where the clean water community needs additional flexibility and the Association’s plans to engage in the Administration’s request for input on areas needing reform. 

Finally, NACWA participated in a briefing on Administrator Pruitt’s plans for rescinding and replacing the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Rule. The briefing – held with EPA’s federalism partners including the National Governors Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, NACWA and others – outlined EPA’s planned two-step process for rolling out a new WOTUS definition. The PowerPoint provided during the briefing includes insight into the Agency’s earlier thinking on how it may change its interpretation of federally jurisdictional waters. NACWA will engage with the Office of Water to ensure that the existing waste treatment exemptions not only remain but are further clarified, as well as secure additional clarity over exemptions for stormwater management systems.