A View from the Clean Water Summit
Posted April 28, 2010
By Matt Bond, WEF Vice President
EPA’s Clean Water Summit on tax day, April 15, attracted a diverse and articulate group of attendees. I participated by invitation as WEF’s representative. Overall, it was a good meeting with heavy engagement by EPA—they were soliciting input and ideas for action and policy formation.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson gave a speech lauding the progress in the 40 years since the CWA and encouraging us to demand another big leap in progress over the next 40 years. She reiterated Agency concerns about vulnerable watersheds, population growth stressors, and chemicals (microconstituents). I participated in the Sustainable Communities breakout, while others participated in the Healthy Watersheds breakout. Opening comments in our session were offered by Nancy Stoner, and by former Administrator Bill Reilly, who acknowledged the Johnson Foundation report that WEF co-sponsored outlining the need to update the Clean Water Act. We broke into groups by table and discussed green infrastructure and the need for holistic planning covering all phases of water ties to other infrastructure in our communities. Key points that came from the table report-outs are:
- Integrated, multiple benefit solutions are needed.
- Public communication and education are paramount.
- Regulation and enforcement are important to drive change.
- A strong pitch was made to decentralize treatment systems to avoid drying out of urban watersheds.
- Incentives are needed to encourage green approaches to water issues.
- Research investments are needed to determine performance of green infrastructure.
- EPA should encourage innovation without fear of recrimination.
- We must reform the Clean Water Act, which is also a key WEF goal.
I was very encouraged by the dialogue, and overall there was broad consensus among the groups. EPA Deputy Administrator Robert Perciasepe closed the day with concluding thoughts and identified the following next steps EPA will take.
EPA will reach out to other Federal agencies that touch water and look for ways to cooperate and drive sustainable solutions.
EPA will circle back with the States and seek input.
A summary report will be developed and posted for attendees and the public.
A comment area will remain open, and participants are encouraged to have others review and comment on the findings and ideas generated at this summit.
EPA’s openness is encouraging, and WEF is poised to help drive these discussions. If you’d like to get involved through our government affairs activities, please contact Tim Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.