Local officials can weigh in on national water policy that will affect their communities.
In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the release of a draft National Water Reuse Action Plan (Draft Action Plan) that highlights key actions that support consideration and implementation of water reuse, which can be a valuable tool to enhance the availability and effective use of water resources.
The Draft Action Plan supports an integrated and collaborative approach to water management. The plan aims to replace the traditional, fragmented and siloed approach often applied to water resources management, with broader, more comprehensive solutions and strategies to meet diverse water quality and quantity needs. This recognition is in line with NLC’s efforts to support and promote EPA’s integrated planning framework.
Additionally, the Draft Action Plan recognizes that climate change will greatly increase the risk that water supplies will not be able to keep pace with demand, necessitating the need to develop new, drought-proof supplies.
“Forty states anticipate experiencing fresh water shortages in certain regions within their borders over the next decade,” said U.S. EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “Diversifying our nation’s water portfolio must be a nationwide priority, and water reuse has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come.”
In June, NLC, together with the WaterNow Alliance, submitted comments to EPA as the agency was developing the Draft Action Plan. Our joint comment letter made the case that onsite systems are cost-effective, and scaling investment in these decentralized solutions is an important way for communities to meet their resilience and sustainability goals.
We are pleased to see that the Draft Action Plan includes a proposed action to expand these adoption strategies nationwide. With adoption of the Draft Action Plan, local leaders will have more flexibility to explore smart strategies to meet community needs, including onsite and localized water reuse options.
EPA is accepting comments on the Draft Action Plan through Dec. 16.
Later this month, NLC, together with the WaterNow Alliance, will submit comments to EPA recommending ways to enhance the ability of local leaders to implement onsite water reuse programs that make the most sense for their communities. Additionally, the comments will outline how our organizations can collaborate with EPA and others to elevate water reuse as a key resilience strategy locally and nationally.
About the Author: Carolyn Berndt is the program director for infrastructure and sustainability on the NLC Federal Advocacy team. Follow Carolyn on Twitter at @BerndtCarolyn.