R44223 – EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure – 9/22/2016


EPA Policies Concerning Integrated Planning and Affordability of Water Infrastructure


Author: Claudia Copeland, Specialist in Resources and Environmental Policy
Pages: 11

For several years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working with states and cities to develop and implement new approaches that will achieve water quality goals cost-effectively and in a manner that addresses the most pressing water infrastructure problems first. Two such recent EPA initiatives are an integrated planning policy and a framework policy for assessing a community’s financial capability to meet objectives and requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Pressed by municipalities about the challenges and costs that they face in addressing needs for wastewater and stormwater control projects, in 2012 EPA issued an integrated permitting and planning policy. The intention of the policy is to provide communities with flexibility to prioritize and sequence needed water infrastructure investments so that limited public dollars can be invested in ways that each municipality finds most valuable. Water utilities and municipalities have welcomed the opportunity for flexibility under the integrated planning policy. But they have sought clarification of a number of issues, including EPA and state roles in developing integrated plans. A major point of contention between EPA and local government stakeholders has been the agency’s reliance on administrative orders or judicially approved consent decrees to codify integrated pollution reduction plans, rather than through modification of CWA permits. City and town officials say that they would prefer that EPA allow compliance flexibility through permits, rather than subjecting cities and towns to legally binding consent decrees with penalties and fines for noncompliance. The agency takes the position that both enforcement and permits are necessary, depending on individual circumstances. Bills: H.R. 1093, , H.R. 1705, H.R. 2707, H.R. 3862, H.R. 1189, H.R. 2822, S. 2768, S. 2848, S. 2358, S. 2995, S. 2094