With communities seeking cost-effective approaches to upgrading stormwater and wastewater systems, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Clean Water Compliance and Affordability Act. The bill directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a national integrated planning pilot program. The bill would help accelerate integrated planning, which is intended to aid communities in adopting the most innovative and cost-efficient solutions available when complying with the Clean Water Act.

Under provisions of the Clean Water Act, local communities must make upgrades to wastewater and stormwater systems to ensure untreated wastewater and pollutants do not enter the nation’s waters. The ability of local and state governments to finance upgrades to wastewater and stormwater systems has been strained during the ongoing economic recovery.

If passed, 15 communities will work with the EPA to craft flexible compliance guidelines and find long-term methods for funding projects. Participating communities also could extend national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permits from the current 5-year term to a 25-year term. A longer permit term could improve long range planning and a more cost-efficient use of ratepayer money.