Last week, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy posted seven “themes” to guide the Agency’s priorities during her tenure as Administrator. NACWA welcomes Administrator McCarthy’s commitment to partner with local governments and we are eager to work with the Agency to advance a number of the themes relevant to the clean water community, including the following priorities laid out by the Administrator: the need to “support green infrastructure to manage urban waters,” address climate change by “enhancing the resiliency of local infrastructure”, “deliver long term and broad environmental quality,” and achieve “real, cost-effective solutions to our nation’s water quality challenges.”
McCarthy specifically addresses the nation’s significant clean water challenges in a theme entitled, “Protecting Water: A Precious, Limited Resource.” The theme is introduced by stating that there is “substantial evidence that progress in advancing clean water and safe drinking water goals in the U.S. is stalled” and that there “is a clear need to reinvigorate efforts to improve water quality.”
NACWA believes that the notion that clean water progress has stalled does not fully account for the many advances that clean water agencies are making despite the limitations of a now four decades-old Clean Water Act (CWA). Many clean water agencies are now routinely going beyond the requirements of the CWA and increasingly are taking on the mantle of the “Water Resources Utility of the Future” (UOTF).
NACWA is confident that any collaborative path forward must include promoting the innovative approaches detailed in the UOTF Blueprint and Call for Federal Action including energy conservation and production, water reuse and reclamation, resource recovery, green infrastructure techniques, integrated planning and watershed-based approaches, and resiliency in the face of increasingly frequent, extreme weather. As NACWA and its members meet with Administrator McCarthy and key senior staff at EPA, we will work to ensure that, through strong collaboration between EPA, the states and municipal agencies, progress is not stalled but that we work together to ensure another 40 years of clean water progress.