On January 14, President Donald Trump signed into law the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R. 7279). Prior to the president’s signature, the legislation received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and Senate. The legislation is a significant win for counties as it codifies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) permit process for integrated plans for wastewater and stormwater management under the Clean Water Act (CWA). NACo worked closely with leaders in the 115th Congress to address CWA compliance issues and advocated for policies that would streamline the CWA permitting process and save counties money, many of which were included in the final bill.
As part of codifying EPA’s Integrated Planning (IP) policy, the bill allows communities to develop an IP for combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer collection systems, storm water systems, municipal wastewater discharge and/or Total Maximum Daily Load water quality requirements. A municipal ombudsman office within EPA is established under the bill, which will work with communities to provide technical assistance on CWA requirements. Furthermore, the measure provides local governments with more flexibility to try new, innovative approaches that can simultaneously improve water quality and lower costs for residents, such as green infrastructure.
In May 2017, Commissioner Todd Portune of Hamilton County, Ohio testified on behalf of NACo before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. His testimony included the important role counties play both as co-regulators and regulated entities under the CWA. Prior to the House vote, Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), recognized Commissioner Portune’s leadership on IP during his speech in support of the legislation.
For more information, view NACo’s fact sheet on integrated planning.