Next Tuesday, NACWA and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote increased cooperation and communication between the two organizations in their efforts to make watershed-level water quality improvements. This MOU will mark an important milestone in efforts to strengthen ties between urban and rural sectors on conservation activities to improve local water quality and the environment.
NACWA has been a longtime advocate of watershed-based approaches that seek to reduce water pollution from multiple sources and sectors collectively. Embracing this type of approach is critical to improving local water quality, especially as the cost to meet increasingly stringent discharge limits at wastewater treatment plants for pollutants like nutrients continues to rise. In the Chesapeake Bay for example, the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant in Washington, D.C. is under a new EPA NPDES permit to reduce total nitrogen at their facility from 5 million to 4.7 million pounds per year. This will cost D.C. residents $900 million yet only reduce total nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay by 0.4%. By working with our upstream neighbors, greater pollution reductions could be realized at a portion of that cost.
Specifically, the NACWA-NMPF MOU seeks to encourage clean water agencies and nearby dairy farms to work together to improve water quality and reduce runoff associated with livestock manure. Potential projects include cooperation on building anaerobic digesters, which can use manure to generate electricity and reduce methane emissions, and controlling nutrient discharges through the use of nutrient separation technologies and land management practices.
Increased collaboration among the clean water and dairy sectors offers a host of mutually-beneficial and cost-effective opportunities to improve the environment, and NACWA and NMPF are excited about this opportunity to work more closely together. A signed copy of the MOU will be available to the public on NACWA’s website beginning September 9th.
This post was authored by Hannah Mellman, who at the time, was NACWA's Manager of Legislation Affairs. Hannah has since left NACWA for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrtion.