On January 14, President Trump signed into law the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (H.R. 7279), a bipartisan law that will provide communities across the country with the ability to develop integrated plans to bundle and prioritize important federal stormwater and wastewater standards under the Clean Water Act (CWA), which has the ability to save taxpayers and local governments billions of dollars while upholding important environmental protections.
In addition to codifying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2012 Integrated Planning (IP) Framework, the law:
- Allows the EPA to authorize permits that incorporate integrated plans.
- Establishes an integrated plan as a basis for a request to modify an administrative order or consent decree.
- Requires the EPA Administrator to inform municipalities of the opportunity to develop an integrated plan.
- Authorizes compliance schedules in permits incorporating an integrated plan for any water quality standard if authorized by a state in its water quality standards regulations.
- Authorizes effluent limitations to be met through the use of green infrastructure.
- Establishes an EPA Office of the Municipal Ombudsman that must work directly with communities in complying with federal environmental laws, particularly with regard to the opportunity to prepare integrated plans in the context of consent decrees or administrative orders.
- Ensures EPA offices promote the integration of green infrastructure into permitting programs, planning efforts, research, technical assistance, and funding guidance.
- Requires the EPA to provide a Report to Congress to ensure the effective and transparent implementation of integrated plan permits by the EPA.
The Water Infrastructure Improvement Act is a long-awaiting compromise that has been years in the making. Similar versions of the legislation have previously passed the Senate and been included in water resource development legislation. TFG and TFG client Hamilton County, Ohio, have advocated for codification of the IP Framework and development of legislation for the past two congresses. Hamilton County Commission President Todd Portune has testified before Congress six times on the need for the legislation on behalf of both Hamilton County and the National Association of Counties. Numerous other TFG clients have expressed interest and support for the legislation.
The full text of the law can be found here.