On Oct. 10, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided $335,000 in technical assistance to five communities to help them develop components of integrated plans for wastewater and stormwater management. Integrated planning is intended to help communities sequence projects in priority order. EPA, states, and municipalities historically have focused on meeting each Clean Water Act requirement separately, an approach that may have constrained communities from addressing the most serious water issues first.
In June 2012, EPA issued a framework promoting an integrated planning approach after working closely with state authorities, local governments, water utilities, and environmental groups. In May 2014, 28 communities responded to EPA’s request for letters of interest in technical assistance, and EPA selected five communities based on factors such as human health and water quality challenges, innovative approaches, community and national impacts, and commitment to integrated planning. The selected communities will serve as examples for developing integrated plans and will provide transferable tools.
Selected communities include Burlington, Vt., which proposes to evaluate its financial capability to fund an integrated stormwater and wastewater program; develop criteria for prioritizing community wastewater and stormwater needs based on social, economic, and environmental factors; develop a list of example projects that rank highly based on these criteria; and evaluate innovative methods of pollutant reduction.
The Town of Durham and the University of New Hampshire proposed to evaluate opportunities to consolidate wastewater and stormwater resources, develop a wastewater and stormwater funding strategy, and develop a toolkit for tracking pollutant load contributions and reductions from wastewater and stormwater.
The City of Santa Maria in California proposed to develop an asset management approach to prioritize investments, identify innovative approaches such as green infrastructure, and identify environmental and public health benefits.
The City of Springfield, Greene County and City Utilities of Springfield in Missouri proposed to develop a decision analysis tool to prioritize investments. The tool will identify, characterize, and evaluate key pollutants and sources of water pollution.
The Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection in Syracuse, N.Y., proposed to outline a process to engage stakeholders and identify, evaluate, and select stormwater and wastewater projects.
On Oct. 23, EPA also invited communities to apply for technical assistance for implementing smart growth development approaches. EPA is offering this technical assistance through the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The program aims to increase resilience to natural disasters and strengthen the economy while protecting human health and the environment. Applications are due Nov. 20.