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Municipal concerns surface as Senate begins Clean Water.

Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and John Chafee R-R.I.), chair and ranking member respectively of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, last week proposed substantial revisions to the Clean Water Act which significantly reflect and address concerns expressed by municipalities required to implement this complex statute. In announcing the new measure, Baucus said his bill "provides state and local governments the resources to match their responsibilities." He described the measure as one that provides "a balanced, cooperative approach to provide real solutions to the water quality problems of this country" and to "relax somewhat, the |current command' and control approach to addressing water pollution in the nation's rivers and streams." "It does not," he said, "aim for perfection at the expense of the good."

Briefly, the major provisions in the Baucus-Chafee bill which affect municipalities include:

Stormwater Management

End-of-pipe treatment of stormwater run-off would be delayed for ten years for all municipalities regardless of size. Local governments in an urbanized area with a central city of 100,000 or more population and cities, regardless of size, in impaired watersheds would have to implement a stormwater management program six years after enactment of the statute. All other smaller municipalities would have no stormwater management requirements imposed on them for ten years. Under current law, the moratorium for implementation of a stormwater program for cities under 100,000 population expires in October of 1994.

Permits for cities required to comply with the stormwater management program will focus on best management practices and not on numerical effluent limits.

Combined Sewer Overflows

Communities with CSOs would have up to 15 years to come into compliance with CSO requirements. The measure would enact EPA's draft CSO guidance (based on the results of a negotiated rulemaking in which NLC EENR Steering Committee member Councilmember Steven John of Decatur, Illinois participated last summer) and would authorize 15 year permits with allowable extensions beyond the 15 years where circumstances support such an extension.

Funding

The Baucus-Chafee bill would reauthorize the state revolving loan fund (SRF) through the year 2000 at $2.5 billion annually, with increases in authorizations if deficit reduction targets are met. For municipalities, the bill would authorize states to make any part or all of the required 20 percent state matching share available for grants.

SRF and grant funds would be available for all Clean Water Act purposes--wastewater treatment plants, CSOs, and stormwater and watershed management programs. "This is a significant reversal of federal policy adopted in the 1981 and 1987 Clean Water Act reauthorization measures," Chafee pointed out. The SRF, established in 1987, was designed to withdraw federal financial support for meeting Clean Water Act mandates.

Wetlands Deferred

Committee staff are still working on developing an acceptable wetlands proposals which is anticipated to be part of any Clean Water Act reauthorization bill.

Asked at a press conference following introduction of the bill whether he and Chafee had the administration's support for their initiative, Baucus responded, "not exactly, but, EPA has been working closely with the Senate staff in developing the measure." The Senator indicated he expected further support once Browner has political appointees in pace.

Hearings on the measure also began last week with EPA Administrator Carol Browner. NLC's President. Mayor Don Fraser of Minneapolis is scheduled to testify this week.
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Title Annotation:Clean Water Act
Author:Kocheisen, Carol
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 21, 1993
Words:548
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