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WASHINGTON — On June 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new framework to help local governments meet their Clean Water Act obligations.
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.
In developing the framework, EPA worked in close coordination with a variety of stakeholders, including publicly owned treatment works, state water permitting authorities, local governments and nonprofit environmental groups.
EPA''s framework outlines new flexibility to pursue innovative, cost-saving solutions, like green infrastructure, 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 storm 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. These overflows can carry a variety of harmful pollutants that can threaten communities’ water quality, including bacteria, metals, and nutrients, and can contribute to disease outbreaks, beach and shellfish bed closings, and fishing or swimming advisories. Stormwater discharges can also contain many of these pollutants, and municipalities are often faced with difficult choices about how to direct their funds to solve the most critical problems first.
The framework document is available on EPA''s website, where the agency will also provide practical examples of how municipalities are implementing this approach, as they become available.