The House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee held an oversight hearing May 18 to explore efforts by EPA, states and local governments around the use of integrated planning to meet Clean Water Act (CWA) mandates. Elected municipal government officials, environmental advocacy and private industry representatives testified before the Subcommittee, and NACWA submitted written testimony which Subcommittee Chairman Garret Graves (R-LA) entered into the record at the hearing.
The objective of the hearing was to provide House Members an opportunity to learn about the affordability challenges local governments face stemming from CWA obligations and the flexibility EPA’s Integrated Planning Framework can provide in managing wastewater and stormwater investments over time. The hearing was well-attended by the Subcommittee, with Members of both parties asking many substantive questions. Members were interested in hearing from local leadership regarding their experience working with EPA; the shortcomings of current affordability metrics; how codifying Integrated Planning under the CWA might facilitate EPA’s implementation of the approach; how green infrastructure can be a cost-effective infrastructure investment; and other lines of questioning.
There are a number of integrated planning legislative proposals already introduced in this Congress including H.R. 465, the Water Quality Improvement Act, led by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH); and H.R. 2355, the Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, led by Reps. Bob Latta (R-OH), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), David Joyce (R-OH), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA). NACWA is supportive of all these legislative proposals and is committed to helping advance legislation on a bipartisan basis that can be signed into law during this congressional session.
Among the city officials testifying were Todd Portune, Commissioner of Hamilton County, OH on behalf of the National Association of Counties—home to NACWA Member, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati—and Pete Buttigieg, Mayor of South Bend, IN on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. South Bend Wastewater Treatment Plant is also a NACWA Member. Other witnesses included the Mayor of Hattiesburg, MS on behalf of the National League of Cities; the Director of Ohio EPA on behalf of the Environmental Council of the States; William E. Spearman of WE3 Consultants, LLC on behalf of the American Public Works Association; and Lawrence Levine of the National Resources Defense Council.
NACWA has compiled a resource webpage to provide information on this important legislative improvement effort. If you would like to learn more about NACWA’s efforts on integrated planning, visit our website and/or contact NACWA’s Legislative Director, Kristina Surfus.