NACWA Discusses Integrated Planning with EPA

Integrated_Planning_Gears(April 2, 2019) - NACWA met with staff from EPA’s Office of Water last week to discuss implementation of the recently enacted Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.  Among other things, the legislation incorporates integrated planning principles into the Clean Water Act.

NACWA focused on two important implementation issues during the meeting – what additional information and guidance EPA headquarters could provide to EPA regional offices and states to help advance integrated planning, and how the new Municipal Ombudsman office created by the legislation will be set up. 

NACWA noted that while the Association is working to provide guidance to its members on how best to utilize the legislation to pursue integrated planning projects, additional guidance for EPA regional offices and states on how to review and approve integrated planning proposals could be very helpful – especially in the permitting context.  This was an issue raised at a recent meeting of state water regulators that NACWA attended, and NACWA emphasized with EPA that getting permit writers more comfortable issuing permits with integrated planning principles will be critical to successfully implementing the legislation.

On the issue of the new Municipal Ombudsman office, EPA is still working internally to develop the office and has made no final decisions on how it will be structured.  The Agency is interested in hearing from stakeholders on this issue, and NACWA will continue engaging with EPA staff over the coming months with input.  Of particular concern to NACWA is ensuring the Ombudsman office will play its intended role of being a resource to municipalities on regulatory questions and helping ensure regulatory consistency across the Agency’s programs. 

NACWA believes that additional money will be necessary to help EPA successfully implement the new legislation and is requesting $2 million in new appropriations for EPA in Fiscal Year 2020 to help fund these important new initiatives.  Members with any questions can contact Nathan Gardner-Andrews, NACWA’s Chief Advocacy Officer.