On Dec. 13, the U.S. Conference of Mayors met with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to discuss potential revisions to the agency’s “Combined Sewer Overflows: Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development” report as well as a draft EPA proposal that seeks to broaden affordability factors of Clean Water Act requirements. This dialogue is part of a broader discussion taking place on EPA’s Integrated Planning Program, specifically the issue of affordability.

EPA, in its final 2012 Integrated Planning Framework for Managing Wastewater and Stormwater, stated it would allow municipalities to prioritize spending on the basis of affordability as long as the projects improve water quality and meet Clean Water Act obligations. Affordability is a key issue among municipalities trying to build or upgrade their stormwater and wastewater infrastructure to address overflows. In some cases, municipalities must meet compliance schedules under court-approved consent decrees or are required to make upgrades under a new or updated Clean Water Act permit. The framework allows municipalities to modify discharge permits, long-term control plans for combined sewer overflows, and enforcement orders.