The Environmental Protection Agency’s new Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework assists the agency’s regional offices, states, and local governments to develop voluntary storm and wastewater management plans and implement integrated approaches to reduce pollution and the impact of overflow events.
EPA developed the framework with publicly owned treatment works, state water permitting authorities, local governments, and nonprofit environmental groups. The document (which can be found at www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/integrated_planning_framework.pdf) was finalized in May and released last month. It outlines new flexibility to pursue innovative, cost-saving solutions, like green infrastructure—including pervious concrete, permeable paver or porous asphalt pavements—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 storm and wastewater releases 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.