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🚰 "Benefits of Integrated Planning"

Words on Water

Photo by Matteo Grassi / Unsplash

Host: Travis Loop
Guest: Evan Kirk | Acting Senior Project Director | Environmental Finance Center, University of North Carolina    
Category: 🚰 Utilities

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:17] “Many people have different definitions of integrated planning. EPA has got a much more set definition that really includes […] wastewater and stormwater obligations. So they define it as a process that identifies efficiencies and wastewater and stormwater operations. And that efficiency would be complying with permits that you have with those obligations. So Clean Water Act requirements that require you to do certain things. And integrated planning more so than traditional stormwater and wastewater operations includes more green infrastructure. So it's more of a One Water approach.”

[2:02] “One Water is a little more broader than the EPA definition of integrated planning. So One Water will incorporate water as well and then potentially other stakeholder desires that go beyond just EPA definition, which includes just the regulatory compliance for wastewater and stormwater systems. […] Some communities have integrated plans that don't account for permits, or compliance with consent decrees. Other communities very much do integrate their permits into their compliance with those regulations.”

[3:07] “EPA very much does encourage systems to take the integrated planning approach as they define it and go beyond it. But for their purposes, they're just looking at the regulatory compliance. But they're not actively disincentivizing communities from incorporating the One Water approach into their plants.”

[3:33] “[Integrated planning] allows the community to look at a very holistic look at the regulatory compliance. So they're going to be looking at what their Clean Water Act obligations are, who their community partners are, what their systems are currently achieving. And then what are the most efficient ways in which they can get to achieve those Clean Water Act obligations, but also stakeholder obligations and stakeholder desires that they identify in the stakeholder engagement process. So not only are they balancing the Clean Water Act goals, but with every dollar spent on Clean Water Act obligations, they're achieving more than they otherwise would by the traditional approach.”

[4:30] “It allows you to pick some of the low hanging fruits to get more bang for your buck now, and get that kind of ancillary benefit of the one water triple bottom line social, economic and environmental benefits. […] Integrated planning will likely save a community money if it's right for them. And then from a political societal standpoint, people like their greenways, people like the green infrastructure, people like their recreational benefits from green infrastructure that maybe gray infrastructure wouldn't otherwise provide. So if they can spend money on something that makes the community a little bit better, while also achieving those obligations and saving money, it's kind of a win win win.”

[6:51] “A community that might benefit from integrated planning looks like a community that has potentially multiple Clean Water Act obligations. So maybe they have a wastewater treatment permit, or multiple wastewater treatment permits. Maybe they have an MS4 that they'd also have to comply with. Maybe they have a CSO, or an SSO, maybe they have a state nutrient rule, or even like a TMDL. And maybe they have a federal consent decree or even a state level consent decree. Basically, if you have more than one of those things, at the same time, you may benefit from integrated planning, because integrated planning might allow you to prioritize your compliance with the goals such that you can comply with both at the same time, as long as you stick to your plan that you've negotiated with your with your permanent authority.”

[7:39] “We even have seen integrated plans that only integrate across multiple wastewater treatment plants. So it doesn't have to be both wastewater and stormwater. It can be just wastewater, or it can be just stormwater. We also see communities that would benefit from integrated planning that have affordability concerns with their Clean Water Act requirements. Integrated planning is not the only way to negotiate potentially a different timeline for your compliance, but it's one of the ways to do so and still achieve some other benefits. We also might see communities benefit from integrated planning that have historically seen a disconnect between their Clean Water Act spending and their stakeholder desires. So maybe money has been spent one way to achieve their clean water goals, but your citizens really want another way. […] We just see that basically, the more complicated a community is, the more they might benefit in integrated planning.

Rating: 💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 17 min | 🗓️ 08/17/2021
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