Chairman Gibbs, Ranking Member Bishop, and members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. My name is David Williams and I am the Director of Wastewater for East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) in Oakland, California. I also serve as the President of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) and it is my pleasure to testify on NACWA’s behalf today.
NACWA’s primary mission is to advocate on behalf of the nation’s publicly owned wastewater treatment works (POTWs) and the communities and ratepayers they serve. NACWA public agency members collectively treat the majority of the nation’s wastewater. The employees of these agencies are public servants and true environmentalists who ensure that the Nation’s waters are clean and safe, meeting the strict requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
NACWA applauds the Subcommittee for holding this important hearing on the issue of integrated planning under the CWA. NACWA has consistently played a leadership role in advocating for an integrated planning approach, including longstanding and related efforts over the past decades to advance an integrated watershed approach and a more flexible and realistic approach to community affordability determinations under the CWA. NACWA also launched its Money Matters.Smarter Investment to Advance Clean Water™ campaign several years ago to shed a light on the growing financial and compliance challenges posed by CWA regulations and calling for an integrated approach based on prioritizing these competing requirements to achieve maximum water quality benefit.
NACWA believes that the Subcommittee has a responsibility to communities and their ratepayers across the United States to encourage the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act boldly and in a timely manner in putting its integrated planning framework together. This testimony seeks to place the integrated planning initiative into the appropriate historical context and explain, from the perspective of NACWA’s nearly 300 public clean water agency members, what some of the key elements of this approach must be to ensure it is relevant and successful.
EPA’s Integrated Planning Effort Is a Timely and Unique Opportunity
In October 2012, the CWA will mark its 40th anniversary. There are those who will celebrate the many successes and the water quality gains made under the Act over the past four decades. Others may take a different approach, questioning whether the Act continues to be relevant to meet complex 21st century challenges. Both perspectives are valid and the integrated planning effort, if designed and implemented correctly, can be the bridge between these two important perspectives. Integrated CWA planning has the potential to be a valuable tool that can help put municipal, state and federal water quality efforts on a more sustainable path.