SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is providing $67,000 in technical assistance to the City of Santa Maria, Calif. to help it plan for water quality management. EPA is providing similar assistance to four other communities nationwide to support integrated planning for municipal wastewater and stormwater management under the federal Clean Water Act.
“EPA is committed to helping communities protect their water quality, public health, their environment, and their local economy,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Integrated planning is key for California cities to be able address water scarcity from drought and other challenges in the most efficient and effective way.”
The City of Santa Maria, Calif. provides water, wastewater, and stormwater services to more than 100,000 residents in Santa Barbara County. Faced with water quality challenges from urbanization, agriculture, and natural pollution sources, the City proposes to develop a single integrated plan to tackle all of their water issues head-on. With technical planning assistance provided by the EPA, the City will prioritize its investment and green infrastructure decisions for environmental and public health benefits, while reducing costs to residents. The City will also develop a long-term funding strategy and a stakeholder involvement plan that addresses the community’s cultural challenges.
Integrated planning helps municipalities to sequence wastewater and stormwater projects so that the highest priority projects are started first and promotes using innovative solutions, especially green infrastructure. Green infrastructure uses natural landscape features to soak up and store stormwater, decreasing pollution to local waterways and keeping polluted runoff from entering sewer systems. In 2012, EPA issued a framework for integrated planning developed with a variety of stakeholders, including publicly owned treatment works, state water permitting authorities, local governments, and nonprofit environmental groups.
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