EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water, David Ross, made quite a splash last week at the Annual WateReuse Symposium in San Diego, rolling out EPA’s much anticipated draft National Water Reuse Action Plan. As a member of WateReuse’s Legislative and Regulatory Policy Committee, I am enthusiastic about this announcement for a number of reasons, but three stand out.
Elevating Action on Onsite Reuse
I was particularly glad to see “Proposed Action 2.6.5,” establishing a specific action to “Support Development of Tools to Assist Effective Integration of Onsite Water Reuse Systems in Communities.” As WaterNow and National League of Cities members highlighted in comments to EPA, onsite water reuse systems are increasingly cost-effective ways for communities to meet their water supply, resilience, and sustainability goals, so we are delighted that the Administration is focusing on how to expand these adoption strategies nationwide. At the same time, water managers often face challenges in supporting deployment of onsite reuse options. The Water Reuse Action Plan’s focus on the need for support tools is a crucial development, elevating onsite and localized reuse, integrating with centralized community water systems, and putting water managers on the path to navigating their distinct implementation challenges. This issue is near and dear to WaterNow—advancing decentralized options like onsite reuse at large-scale is the heart of WaterNow’s Tap into Resilience initiative. If you haven’t already, check it out!
Supporting Integrated, One Water Approach
The Action Plan also represents an important step forward in bringing national focus to integrated water management, encouraging water leaders to take a One Water approach. For example, Proposed Action 2.1 is all about integrating water reuse with water managers’ entire water portfolio at the watershed scale. And taking an integrated, One Water approach is a unifying theme throughout.
Commitment to Implementation
The Draft Action Plan makes clear that EPA is looking to build a broad stakeholder group to make the actions identified in the Plan a reality. This commitment to follow-through is encouraging. An action plan without on-the-ground implementation is, after all, just a plan. WaterNow and our partners will be taking an active role in this effort by providing further comments on the Draft Action Plan later this year.
EPA will be accepting comments on the Draft Action Plan through December 16, 2019. Stay tuned for opportunities to participate in WaterNow’s stakeholder input process and to join onto WaterNow’s forthcoming comment letter.