Local orgs praise EPA for advancing affordability framework for municipal CWA requirements
The EPA released a "Financial Capability Assessment Framework for Municipal Clean Water Act Requirements," which was the result of nearly two years of discussions with representatives of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities and National Association of Counties.
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 27, 2014 -- On Monday, Nov. 24, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a "Financial Capability Assessment Framework for Municipal Clean Water Act Requirements," which was the result of nearly two years of discussions with representatives of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM), National League of Cities (NLC) and National Association of Counties (NACo).
The local government organizations requested these discussions due to the growing concern that costly water and wastewater mandates were dramatically impacting low and fixed income residents. USCM, NLC and NACo thanked EPA for working collaboratively to outline a new Financial Capability Framework. The groups welcomed it as a good first step in bringing national water quality goals and local resource constraints in better balance.
The Framework "identifies the key elements EPA uses in working with permittees to evaluate how their financial capability should influence schedules … and provides examples of additional information that may help some communities provide a 'more accurate and complete picture' of their financial capability," it stated.
"We appreciate EPA engaging local governments in this critical discussion of how to meet water and wastewater goals without placing an undue burden on the poor," said USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran. "To be successful, we need to reestablish the federal-local government partnership if we are to move forward on improving public health and the environment, but to do so in a cost-effective manner."
NLC CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony added, "The financial capability framework outlines new socio-economic factors that will paint a better picture of what is affordable for residents and communities. We must find a new approach to determining affordability because the current framework has been shown to have disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable populations."
Implementing the new policy in the field is the next challenge, and the organizations are committed to working with EPA to accomplish this. Key concerns include the Agency's hesitation to fully embrace consideration of all public water costs to the full extent the three associations had hoped for. Safe Drinking Water Act requirements are an equally essential consideration that must be included in evaluating financial capability. The groups expressed confidence in EPA's desire to improve this process over time.
NACo Executive Director Matthew Chase said, "This framework illustrates how local governments work with the EPA to achieve clean water goals while addressing water affordability issues within communities. We look forward to continuing to work together to implement this framework successfully across the nation."