U.S. EPA Announces Plan to Retool and Reinvigorate CWA Enforcement
New plan outlines how agency will strengthen the way it addresses today's most significant water pollution challenges
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing Oct. 15 that the agency is stepping up its efforts on Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement.The CWA Enforcement Plan is a first step in revamping the compliance and enforcement program. It seeks to improve the protection of our nation’s water quality, raise the bar in federal and state performance and enhance public transparency.“The safety of the water that we use in our homes--the water we drink and give to our children--is of paramount importance to our health and our environment. Having clean and safe water in our communities is a right that should be guaranteed for all Americans,” said Jackson. “Updating our efforts under the CWA will promote innovative solutions for 21st century water challenges, build stronger ties between EPA, state, and local actions and provide the transparency the public rightfully expects.”The new plan outlines how the agency will strengthen the way it addresses the water pollution challenges of this century. The goals of the plan are to target enforcement to the most significant pollution problems, improve transparency and accountability by providing the public with access to better data on the water quality in their communities and strengthen enforcement performance at the state and federal levels.Elements of the plan include the following:• Develop more comprehensive approaches to ensure enforcement is targeted to the most serious violations and the most significant sources of pollution.• Work with states to ensure greater consistency throughout the country with respect to compliance and water quality. Ensure that states are issuing protective permits and taking enforcement to achieve compliance and remove economic incentives to violate the law.• Use 21st century information technology to collect, analyze and use information in new, more efficient ways, plus make that information readily accessible to the public. Better tools will help federal and state regulators identify serious compliance problems quickly and take prompt actions to correct them.Last July, Jackson directed EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance to develop the plan in response to data showing that the nation’s water quality is unacceptably low in many parts of the country.For more information on the plan, visit www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/cwa/cwaenfplan.html.