Water Permitting Legislation Discussed at Congressional Hearing
At a recent hearing of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, the topic of water permitting was discussed by members of both parties. Specifically, legislators debated H.R. 1764, a bill introduced by Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), that would amend the Clean Water Act (CWA) to allow point-source discharge permits for municipal wastewater treatment plants to last 10 years. Currently, CWA requires those permits to be renewed every five years.
The bipartisan bill has the support of APWA, however, there are complications in terms of including the legislation in a broader water infrastructure package. Supporters of the bill want the language included in H.R. 1497, the Water Quality Protection and Job Creation Act. That bill would significantly increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, including $20 billion over five years for wastewater infrastructure.
H.R. 1497 was introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who is chairman of the full T&I Committee. To date, he has resisted efforts to combine the two measures, as the Committee has a tradition of passing funding authorization bills separately from policy or regulatory ones. This separation exists mainly due to the fact that regulatory issues are more complicated than funding ones, and could slow down the passage of funding measures.
Regardless, APWA is staunch in its support of H.R. 1764, and will be advocating its passage in whatever form possible. The legislation will help communities across the country meet the new and complex challenges facing our wastewater agencies. For these agencies that have a proven track record of compliance, a 10-year term for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit would be much more efficient than the current 5-year term, due to the inordinate amount of time, effort, and expense involved in reviewing permits every five years. These costs are all resources that are used in the permitting process rather than actual permit implementation.
To learn more about this legislation or APWA’s Water Resources priorities, please contact Government Affairs Manager Sean Garcia.