Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new framework to help local governments meet the standards of the Clean Water Act. The EPA worked with publicly owned treatment works, state water permitting authorities, local governments, and nonprofit environmental groups to create the framework.
The Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework assists EPA regional offices, states, and local governments to develop voluntary storm and wastewater management plans and implement effective integrated approaches that will protect public health by reducing overflows from wastewater systems and pollution from stormwater.
The EPA’s new approach to stormwater and wastewater seeks to alleviate the problems created by cookie-cutter solutions that fail to take into consideration each localities unique ecology. The EPA’s framework prioritizes flexibility in allowing communities to create innovative, tailored solutions and will help communities as they develop plans that prioritize their investments in storm and wastewater infrastructure.
The framework also highlights the importance of controlling and managing releases of stormwater and wastewater into the nation’s waters. When wastewater systems, many of which are aging, overflow they can release untreated sewage and other pollutants into local waterways.
Wastewater and stormwater runoff is something Milwaukee has dealt with in the past due to our unique sewage system. Runoff is especially bad in years with higher-than-expected spring flooding. In addition to creating unsightly beaches, stormwater and wastewater overflow causes dangerous chemicals to leak into local waterways. The EPA’s new framework would allow the city to create solutions that work best to address our region-specific problem areas and concerns.
This is the kind of progressive approach to environmental regulation that facilitates growth and minimizes costs by allowing communities to have more input into their own governance. We look forward to seeing how the EPA’s new framework is implemented in Milwaukee and can’t wait to see how our members contribute to the plan.
The framework document is available on EPA’s website and can be found here: Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework