NACWA, NRDC Find Common Ground on Key Wet Weather Practice, Seek EPA Support

Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - October 27, 2005

For Immediate Release: October 27, 2005
Contact: Alexandra Dunn, 202.533.1803

Find Common Ground on Key Wet Weather Practice, Seek EPA Support

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) is pleased to announce that, after high-level and extensive negotiations with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a mutually agreeable draft final guidance addressing the complex and controversial issue of wet weather flow diversions was delivered this morning to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). NACWA and NRDC are urging the Agency to finalize the joint Guidance on Peak Wet Weather Flow Diversions as written. Simply stated, the NACWA/NRDC agreement provides EPA with a sound path forward on an issue that had become highly politicized and appeared to have reached an unfortunate impasse.

NACWA believes that the joint Guidance: 1) provides much-needed national consistency on wet weather flow diversions; 2) offers significant additional environmental and water quality benefits; and 3) ensures necessary public involvement with, and municipal flexibility in making, peak wet weather flow management decisions. As NACWA’s Executive Director, Ken Kirk, notes, “this joint NACWA/NRDC Guidance demonstrates that sound policy can result when organizations stay focused on the critical mission of improving water quality and protecting the public health. I sincerely hope that EPA finalizes this consensus Guidance document as developed.”

As the Guidance suggests, many municipalities currently have situations in which high peak influent flows during significant wet weather events exceed the treatment capacity of existing secondary treatment units. In these situations, wet weather flows are sometimes diverted around secondary treatment units and then either recombined with flows from the secondary treatment units or discharged directly into waterways from the treatment plant. The NACWA/NRDC Guidance only applies to those diversions as they are recombined, and as they occur in separate sanitary sewer systems. Peak wet weather diversions in combined sewer systems are already regulated in a similar way pursuant to the 1994 Combined Sewer Overflow Policy.

The Guidance would benefit the nation’s water quality by minimizing POTW reliance on peak wet weather flow diversions as a long-term wet weather management approach to the maximum extent feasible, taking into account the economic and real-world factors detailed in the Guidance. The Guidance asserts that the need to use peak wet weather flow diversions can be eliminated from many systems in a variety of ways, such as by enhancing storage and treatment capacity and reducing sources of peak wet weather flow volume. The method to achieve this objective is through aggressive efforts by sewage treatment plants in consultation with permitting authorities which can dramatically reduce the volume and duration of peak wet weather flows and can improve the treatment and quality of peak wet weather flow discharges. NACWA believes that the Guidance’s enhanced public notice provisions will improve the understanding and knowledge of peak wet weather flow diversion practices at public utilities. NACWA and NRDC will work with EPA to finalize the Guidance which will provide municipalities with a consistent, sound policy to manage peak wet weather flow diversions.

For further information regarding this critical effort, please contact NACWA’s General Counsel, Alexandra Dunn at or 202/533-1803. Similarly, Nancy Stoner, Director, NRDC’s Clean Water Project, can be reached at or 202/289-2394 can be contacted for comment.

NACWA is a national trade association representing hundreds of the nation's publicly owned wastewater treatment utilities. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day. NACWA members are environmental practitioners dedicated to protecting and improving the nation's waters and public health.

1816 Jefferson Place, Washington, DC 20036-2505 • 202.833.2672 • 202.833.4657 FAX •