On March 14, Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) introduced legislation (HR 1764) to support local water infrastructure projects with co-sponsors Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) and Rob Woodall (R-Ga.). The bill would extend the maximum term for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued under the Clean Water Act from five to 10 years. While environmental groups generally oppose the idea, the Trump administration floated a similar extension in its infrastructure blueprint last year.
WEF and other organizations in the water sector support this legislation, and sent a letter to Garamendi expressing their support and emphasizing how this legislation would better reflect today’s clean water infrastructure reality, as recently illustrated before the House Trasnportation subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment’s hearing into water infrastructure needs. Extending permit terms would:
- Enhance the planning and efficiency of facility permitting;
- Give agencies the necessary time to comply with existing regulatory requirements prior to the imposition of new mandates, allowing agencies to better plan and construct new technologies and facilities; and
- Allows states to direct more resources to stormwater, nonpoint and watershed-based solutions.
At the same time, existing permit reopener provisions would allow for new conditions to be inserted where needed prior to permit expiration and protects the public’s involvement in the permitting process.
The legislation has been referred to the full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.