More than 60 representatives from municipalities, water utilities, and state agencies participated in a workshop held March 12 in Olathe, Kan., on the Clean Water Act Integrated Planning Framework, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released on June 5, 2012. During the workshop, officials from EPA headquarters and the agency’s Region 7 office (covering Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa) presented their perspectives on the framework.

The framework was described as an opportunity for municipalities to use flexibilities that are already embedded in the Clean Water Act or EPA regulations, based on plans that must be approved by states and EPA. State representatives were generally supportive of the integrated planning approach, saying that in some cases, it mirrors efforts they are already making to synchronize permits on a watershed basis and to consider affordability when determining compliance schedules. Municipal representatives also supported the framework, but some expressed concern about implementing an integrated approach through enforcement orders, rather than permits. Communities with permits coming up for renewal that could benefit from an integrated plan were encouraged to initiate an early dialogue with state and EPA regional officials. EPA also reported on a continuing dialogue on financial capability the agency has initiated with local elected officials.

The workshop was the second in a series co-sponsored by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Association of Clean Water Administrators, and the Water Environment Federation. Johnson County (Kan.) Wastewater hosted the meeting, and lunch was provided by Black and Veatch and HDR. Future workshops are planned for EPA regions 10 (Portland, Ore., April 3) and 5 (Indianapolis, May 1).