As the New Year begins, we’re excited to have ended 2012 on a high note with two key victories for NACWA and our public agency members. At the end of December, NACWA learned that the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied the Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) petition seeking to have the Agency expand the definition of secondary treatment to include nutrient removal. Such an expansion would have led to a one-size-fits-all approach that would have cost tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars and offered little or no appreciable benefit to the Nation’s waterways. NACWA has been working on this issue on both regulatory and legal fronts since 2007, and was excited to see the Agency echo NACWA’s arguments in rejecting outright NRDC’s petition. In its December 14 letter, EPA outlined technical and cost-related reasons along with statutory and legal rationales for the denial. This victory also demonstrates the effectiveness of the Association’s Money Matters . . . Smarter Investment to Advance Clean Water™ campaign, which seeks to ensure that limited ratepayer dollars are not spent wastefully but on efforts that will, in fact, yield maximum environmental results.
Also demonstrating that the Money Matters campaign continues to resonate, NACWA also learned that DC Water, the Washington, D.C., and EPA had entered into a partnership agreement. This agreement will allow the City to move forward with a green infrastructure plan that could serve as an alternative or supplement to costly gray infrastructure projects to control wet weather overflows in the District. This agreement will serve as a model for how public clean water and stormwater agencies and regional and national EPA and the federal government can come together to address costly wet weather challenges in a more integrated, cost-effective, innovative approach. This is also another important indication of EPA’s willingness to consider innovative green infrastructure solutions to address wet weather and the Agency’s commitment to integrated planning and prioritized approaches to complying with Clean Water Act requirements.
You can read more about both of these efforts in NACWA’s Advocacy Alerts (12-14, 12-15). We are thrilled to be a part of these successes and will continue to advocate for these clean water issues and more in the New Year!