80th Annual Meeting


WHEREAS, local governments provide the water and wastewater infrastructure that supplies clean and safe water; and

WHEREAS, in 2009 alone, local governments invested $103 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, these infrastructure investments are the reason Americans enjoy some of the safest. cleanest, most affordable water in the world; and

WHEREAS, local governments do not have the financial capability to continue maintaining existing infrastructure that provides a high level of public health and environmental benefits, if they are forced at the same time to increase investments in new infrastructure that would provide fewer public health and environmental benefits; and

WHEREAS,  even if a local government could obtain financing to invest in new infrastructure, the debt service will cause utility rates to rise beyond what is affordable for local citizens and rate-payers with a disproportionate impact on the poor and middle-class families; and

WHEREAS, U.S. EPA has recently recognized the financial capability limitations on local governments and families and has offered to work with local governments to make infrastructure investments more effective and affordable; and

WHEREAS, the Clean Water Act provides tools that can make local governments’ substantial investments in environmental protection more effective and affordable, including use attainability analyses, variances, compliance schedules, and site-specific standards; and

WHEREAS, U.S. EPA agrees that it has the flexibility to utilize these tools to reduce regulatory burdens on local governments, but rarely employs them; and

WHEREAS, the ability to integrate planning and permitting of multiple water-related regulatory obligations, including obligations under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, would allow local governments to focus limited resources on actions that will provide the greatest environmental and public health benefits and may reduce the need to take future actions and incur future costs; and

WHEREAS, U.S. EPA agrees that it has the flexibility, when taking an enforcement action against a local government, to allow the local government to employ integrated planning to prioritize investment in Clean Water Act regulatory obligations that provide the greatest public health and environmental benefits; and

WHEREAS,  U.S. EPA historically has taken the position that it does not have the flexibility to allow local governments to more effectively and affordably prioritize investment in Clean Water Act regulatory obligations related to compliance with pre-1977 water quality standards except through initiation of administrative or judicial enforcement actions against those local governments; and

WHEREAS,  Mayors do not believe that they should be subject to costly and inefficient enforcement actions before they can engage in integrated planning or prioritize investment in regulatory obligations that would result in greater human health and environmental benefits, notwithstanding the date a water quality standard was promulgated; and

WHEREAS, Mayors believe that the Clean Water Act specifically grants U.S. EPA the flexibility to allow local governments to more effectively and affordably prioritize investment in regulatory obligations related to compliance with pre-1977 water quality standards without initiation of administrative or judicial enforcement actions; and

WHEREAS, integrated planning and prioritizing investments with more substantial human health and environmental benefits is better supported through focusing local governments’ limited resources on planning rather than on costly and inefficient enforcement proceedings,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges U.S. EPA to employ Clean Water Act tools to the fullest extent authorized to provide regulatory flexibility to local governments, urges EPA to reconsider its historic interpretation limiting its authority to allow integrated planning outside the enforcement context, and urges EPA to reconsider its position that integrated planning can only include Clean Water Act obligations and include Safe Drinking Water Act obligations as well; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges U.S. EPA to cease treating local governments as polluters, and instead work with local governments as partners in environmental and public health stewardship; and, only include Clean Water Act obligations and include Safe Drinking Water Act obligations as well; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to support the utilization of regulatory flexibility in lieu of the enforcement of unachievable standards by reappropriating or reprogramming funds from U.S. EPA’s enforcement account to U.S. EPA’s environmental programs and management account, for the purpose of carrying out use attainability analyses, and helping states develop variances, compliance schedules, and site-specific standards; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to support integrated planning by reappropriating or reprogramming funds from U.S. EPA’s enforcement account to U.S. EPA’s state and tribal assistance grants account, for the purpose of reducing enforcement actions against local governments and increasing the capacity of state and local governments to support integrated planning through water quality plans developed under section 208 of the Clean Water Act; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the U.S. EPA continues to interpret the Clean Water Act to limit the use of integrated planning outside the enforcement context, then The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to enact a narrow amendment to the Clean Water Act to address this barrier by making it clear that, when integrated plans are utilized, water quality standards can be met over time, regardless of their promulgation date; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that if the U.S. EPA continues to interpret the law to preclude consideration of regulatory obligations under the Safe Drinking Water Act when developing an integrated plan that includes Clean Water Act obligations, then The U.S. Conference of Mayors urges Congress to enact a narrow amendment to the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act to address this barrier. 


RESOLUTION ADOPTED JUNE 2012