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EPA Promotes Sustainable Approaches and Green Infrastructure

EPA recently held a special meeting for representatives of organizations representing state and local organizations (including ASDWA) to summarize and explain its efforts to promote “sustainability” and “green” approaches.

Sustainability

On EPA’s web site dedicated to this topic, http://www.epa.gov/sustainability/

sustainability is defined as “creat[ing] and maintain[ing] the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.  Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment….EPA aims to make sustainability the next level of environmental protection by drawing on advances in science and technology to protect human health and the environment, and promoting innovative green business practices.”

EPA took an important step recently in charging the National Academy of Sciences with developing an overall framework for sustainability.  In response, the Academy developed a report entitled, “Sustainability and the U.S. EPA” – referred to, in short hand, as “the Green Book.”  The following link describes this publication and provides a purchase option: http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/sustainability/EPA/index.htm

EPA plans, over the next several months, to reach out to a wide range of stakeholders to gather thoughts on next steps for incorporating sustainability principles into the Agency’s work.  At the same time, they will be developing a sustainability assessment toolkit to help support these approaches.  After gathering stakeholder input and feedback, they intend to move forward in implementing a strategic approach to fostering these sustainability principles.  Agency representatives stressed that they plan no new regulations requiring sustainable approaches, but rather, view their role as a “convener of good ideas.”

Green Infrastructure

Closer to home, the Agency has also laid out a roadmap to “Protect Waters and Build More Livable Communities through Green Infrastructure.”   EPA’s strategy focuses on clarifying how green infrastructure can and should be used within the regulatory and enforcement contexts, outreach and information exchange, financing, and tool development and capacity building. Deputy Administrator Perciasepe announced EPA’s green infrastructure community partnership effort by introducing the first 10 communities that will work with the Agency on green infrastructure implementation issues. Concurrent with the release of the Strategic Agenda, EPA’s Office of Water and Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance issued a joint memorandum encouraging communities to use green infrastructure to manage wet weather and meet Clean Water Act Requirements.  Please go to www.epa.gov\greeninfrastructure to view the various documents and descriptions associated with green infrastructure.