NACWA Advances Consent Decree Advocacy

(October 2, 2019) – NACWA continues to work with EPA on a number of issues related to clean water enforcement and consent decrees. 

The Association has had several meetings with senior EPA Office of Water and Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance staff to discuss compliance issues for combined sewer overflow (CSO) communities that reach the end of their long-term control plans (LTCPs). The issue in question is what happens post-LTCP when the clean water agency may still not meet water quality standards during wet weather conditions despite having completed CSO remediation work that was agreed upon.

A workgroup of interested member utility leaders met in July during NACWA’s Utility Leadership Conference to help guide the Association’s engagement with EPA and the states on post-LTCP compliance. NACWA also hosted a meeting of utility leaders during WEFTEC last week to facilitate peer-to-peer discussions on consent decree implementation.  The Association plans additional meetings with EPA in the near future, including with key political leaders at the Agency, to continue discussing this critical issue.   

On a related note, NACWA will be meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the coming weeks about the August 21 policy memo that significantly restricts the use of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in settlement agreements with state and local governments, including wet weather consent decrees.  The new DOJ position comes despite strong pushback from EPA to limiting the use of SEPs.  NACWA is very concerned about the limitations outlined in the memo and will be sharing these concerns with DOJ. 

Communities with consent decrees that are interested in these issues should contact Amanda Waters, NACWA’s General Counsel.