EPA develops new planning approach to improve water quality in U.S. cities

Sponsored by

WASHINGTON, DC, Oct. 28, 2011 -- The U.S. EPA announced today a commitment to using an integrated planning process to help local governments dealing with difficult financial conditions identify opportunities to achieve clean water by controlling and managing releases of wastewater and stormwater runoff more efficiently and cost effectively.

The integrated planning process, outlined in a guidance memo to EPA's regional offices from EPA's Office of Water and Office of Enforcement and Compliance, will help municipalities prioritize infrastructure investments to address the most serious water quality issues and provide flexibility to use innovative, cost-effective stormwater and wastewater management solutions.

"EPA is firmly committed to helping local governments identify opportunities to achieve clean water using a comprehensive integrated planning approach," EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe said. "An integrated approach allows communities to prioritize their investments to address the most serious water issues first and provides flexibility to use innovative, cost-effective storm- and wastewater management solutions -- including green infrastructure."

Aging sewer systems, not designed to handle heavy rain and snowfall in addition to handling the wastewater from growing populations and local industries, can overflow, releasing untreated sewage into waterways, onto city streets or into the basements of homes. As the runoff flows over the land or impervious surfaces, including paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment and other pollutants. Overflows and stormwater can carry a variety of harmful pollutants, including bacteria, metals and nutrients that threaten communities' water quality and can contribute to disease outbreaks, beach and shellfish bed closings, flooding, and fishing or swimming advisories.

To better protect water quality, EPA will work with local governments to review the Clean Water Act requirements that each municipality must comply with and look for opportunities to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of solutions developed to meet those obligations. This integrated approach will identify efficiencies where more than one water quality issue can be addressed by the same solution and where competing requirements may exist, including how to best make capital investments and meet operation and maintenance requirements.

Integrated planning approaches can also have other benefits, like leading to the identification of innovative, sustainable solutions that improve water quality and enhance community vitality. Green infrastructure, such as green roofs, rain gardens, planter boxes, and permeable pavement, is an example of an integrated solution that can reduce, capture, and treat stormwater runoff at its source before it can reach the sewer system. Green infrastructure provides a cost effective way to reduce overflows and add green space in communities.

Read the EPA memorandum: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/integratedplans.cfm
More information on green infrastructure: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=298

###

Sponsored by

TODAY'S HEADLINES

Major CA groundwater storage project for drought, emergencies underway

A groundwater supply project by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission that will provide a water "savings account" to protect against future drought and earthquakes in the Bay Area has completed environmental review and is moving forward to construction later this year.

Study estimates total mass of oil reaching Gulf shore in wake of Deepwater Horizon spill

A research team from the New Jersey Institute of Technology has estimated the total mass of oil that reached the Gulf of Mexico shore in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, which occurred in April of 2010.

Gas leaks from faulty fracking wells linked to groundwater contamination, finds study

A new study has found that improved construction standards for cement well linings and casings at hydraulic fracturing sites is the likely source of most natural gas contamination in drinking water wells associated with fracking.

New book implores industry leaders to reexamine relationship with water

The Water Innovation Project released a new water book for preorder, titled "Damned If We Don't! Ideas for accelerating change around water," focused on water-related issues and stories from authors representing ideas of better managing the industry's relationship with water.

FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA