Don’t Gamble on Wet Weather Consent Decree Negotiations


If you are one of the estimated 40 million Americans who fill out more than 70 million brackets and “legally” wager approximately $2 billion on the NCAA tournament, your bracket may have taken a hit from upsets such as No. 1 seed Villanova getting ousted by N.C. State and No. 2 Virginia falling to Michigan State in the round of 32.  Despite your thorough research and scientific-based techniques to make your picks and ensure victory for your chosen teams (e.g., analysis of Ratings Percentage Index and strength of schedule, rearranging remote controls, assessing moon phases, and not washing your lucky socks throughout the tournament), there exists an inherent level of uncertainty and risk, which is why it is called gambling.

And if like me, you have dreams of a perfect bracket, I am sorry to break the news that you are more likely to hit four holes-in-one in a row (chances are around 1 in 9.2 quintillion). Such odds are daunting to anyone except perhaps the “King of Aces” Mancil Davis.

NACWA is working to ensure that such uncertainty no longer has a place in wet weather consent decree negotiations and that the odds on your side.  There is no reason to go into negotiations leaving your fate to chance. While $2 billion in NCAA wagers may seem staggering, that number pales in comparison to expenditures undertaken by clean water agencies pursuant to wet weather consent decrees. The infrastructure programs that arise under these decrees will often be the most expensive public infrastructure investments a local government ever makes. Consider that Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District will spend $4.7 billion over 22 years for its consent decree program; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in Cleveland projects $3 billion over 25 years; and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago  is looking at $3 billion over 18 years.

I worked at a wastewater and stormwater utility for over 5 years.  While the decree was negotiated before I arrived, the crux of the decree – the watershed plans – were yet to be developed. The devil was truly in the details and I learned firsthand about the challenges of negotiations, the positioning of the parties, the pressure points brought to bear and, most importantly, what is riding on such substantial and long-term commitments. 

That is why NACWA created the Consent Decree Workshop – to bring together members on the forefront of pushing the “consent decree” envelope to discuss the latest trends in clean water enforcement and how utilities can achieve the best results in enforcement negotiations. Through analysis of real world case studies, available tools, effective negotiation strategies, and areas of evolving regulatory flexibility, the Workshop will help equip your agency with the most up-to-date information and resources to renegotiate existing decrees or negotiate new decrees that best serve your communities and the environment.

While registration costs for the Workshop are likely steeper than bracket entry fees, the rewards will be far greater (unless of course you are that one in 9.2 quintillion with a perfect bracket). So if you are like an estimated 3 million employees who will spend one to three hours at work watching the games, why not spend a few hours with NACWA in Philadelphia on April 29 and 30 to help shape the water sector’s wet weather game plan?

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