Last week I testified in front of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment about the clean water affordability problems facing the City of Springfield, Missouri, and how integrated planning offers us a practical yet effective approach for addressing our water challenges in the most affordable way for our citizens.
Like many others across the nation, the City of Springfield-Greene County region is addressing the challenge of increasingly stringent environmental regulations from every front. From stormwater and wastewater to air quality and drinking water, as regulations continue to evolve, our community is required to devote more money and resources to comply.
Currently, the City of Springfield is operating under a seven-year, $50 million amended consent judgment to correct sanitary sewer overflows through investments in inflow and infiltration reduction in our collection systems. Once the seven-year period concludes, we anticipate having to make more investments at the treatment plant to completely eliminate overflows which will likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars. We also have stormwater-related TMDLs developed for several of our river segments impaired for bacteria and other pollutants that need to be addressed.
The Median Household Income in Springfield is $42,000 with 25% of our citizen’s household income at $20,000 per year or less. Because our challenges involved multiple federal statutes, we believe an Integrated Planning approach is really the only practical and affordable way forward to ensure optimization of taxpayer resources.
Our Integrated Plan will take a holistic look at each of our environmental needs and prioritize our investments based on the most effective solutions to address the most pressing problems that matter most to our community. By looking at the big picture of environmental compliance, we can provide the greatest environmental benefit in a manner that is affordable to our citizens.
Broadly speaking, integrated planning not only promises to provide significant and much-needed flexibility for communities facing significant water quality and other environmental challenges, it symbolizes the recognition that it is time to do things differently under the Clean Water Act. It was my pleasure to help raise awareness for these important issues in Congress.
Stephen Meyer is the Director of Environmental Services for the City of Springfield, Missouri. He also serves on the Board of Directors for NACWA and is President of the Association of Missouri Cleanwater Agencies. The hearing is available to view on the T& I website and Mr. Meyer’s testimony is available here.