The EPA has directed its regional offices to consider local financial capacity when developing compliance schedules in order to meet Clean Water Act (CWA) responsibilities.   Last week, the EPA announced this “affordability dialogue” to its regional offices along with a document entitled, “EPA’s Dialogue with Local Government Financial Capability Framework.”  The framework clarifies how a local government’s financial capacity will be considered in response to concerns raised over the last few years about the devastating cost of CWA compliance and enforcement actions.  

The dialogue between local governments and the EPA will play an important role in determining how local governments will invest in the infrastructure necessary to provide essential water and wastewater services while achieving CWA goals.  In the guidance document, the EPA recognizes the difficult economic challenges facing local governments, indicating that it will work to develop new approaches that will “achieve water quality goals at lower costs and in a manner that addresses the most pressing problems first.”   

The National Association of Counties (NaCO) is working directly with the EPA on this effort and welcomes feedback on the scope of EPA’s affordability dialogue as well as any specific county examples of CWA compliance costs.  For a copy of the EPA memorandum and guidance document, please click here.