Water and Wastewater Flooded with Regulatory Uncertainty

An all-too-familiar complaint from any industry is that proposed federal regulations produce stressful uncertainty.

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“The biggest obstacle in the near future, especially in wastewater, is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s stormwater rule,” says Mike Healy, chair of the water-resources committee of Washington, D.C.-based American Public Works Association (APWA) (www.apwa.net). “They’re still formulating [the most recent modification of] the rule. But what they have so far with the framework is so diverse, we don’t know what the new rule is going to look like.”

AWPA hopes it will be promulgated in the next six-to-nine months. “We’d like to see a framework in which health of watershed is looked at totally—for stormwater and wastewater,” emphasizes Healy, who is also utility operations manager for Grass Valley, Calif. “Meanwhile, we’re trying to spend our capital-improvement dollars rightly. We hope that will give us compliance.”

In any community, non-water/wastewater-treatment issues also demand funding. To better allocate those expenditures, APWA also works now with EPA on the  integrated planning and permitting that exists within the Clean Water Act and the stormwater program.

“APWA and others have been meeting with EPA to see if we can use a new approach, so local utilities can better prioritize their efforts,” explains Julia Anastasio, APWA director of sustainability. EPA’s office of Compliance and Enforcement was coming into a utility and saying, “You have a problem,” she states. “What we’re trying to do is breakdown the silos in EPA, so everyone knows what is occurring or is planned only within the Office of Water, Office of Wastewater Management.”

Water/wastewater utility operators are watching closely. Fortunately,  “once we have a regulatory framework, our industry is fairly quick to adapt,” Healy adds.

Click here to read Michael Idelchik, vice-president of advanced technologies, General Electric, talk about why manufacturing in the U.S. is so important for future innovation. Source: Technology Review, “Can We Build Tomorrow’s Breakthroughs,” http://bit.ly/aroundweb178

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