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Shared $67,000 from EPA will fund integrated planning for Springfield

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Aerial view of Springfield skyline

Aerial view of Springfield skyline

Springfield is one of five communities that will receive $67,000 each in technical assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help develop components of integrated plans for wastewater and stormwater management, according to an announcement from EPA. The assistance will be provided by EPA contractor Tetra Tech.

The City of Springfield, Greene County and City Utilities of Springfield partnered to submit a letter of interest to EPA in May.

“We believe components of the project you identified can provide a great example for communities throughout the nation of how to develop an integrated plan to support a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit,” said Deborah G. Nagle, director of the EPA’s Water Permits Division, in a letter to the City.

The letter submitted by the three entities proposed the development of a decision analysis tool to prioritize investments. The tool will identify, characterize and evaluate key pollutants and sources of water pollution.

“This tool will allow our community to take an unbiased look at which sources of pollution have the biggest impact on environmental quality,” says Errin Kemper, assistant director of the Department of Environmental Services. “By examining the most pressing problems, we can ensure that we are working to address the most significant sources of pollution and not the most fashionable environmental regulation. This is just one of several key drivers in our overall Integrated Plan for the Environment.”

EPA evaluated 28 applicants for consideration of several factors, including human health and water quality challenges, innovative approaches, community and national impacts, and commitment to integrated planning.

Integrated planning lets communities sequence projects so they can start those with the highest priority first. EPA technical assistance will help recipients meet Clean Water Act requirements for water management in a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial way.

About Springfield’s Integrated Plan for the Environment

Like many other communities across the nation, Springfield and Greene County are addressing the challenge of increasingly stringent environmental regulations from every front. From stormwater and wastewater to air quality and drinking water, as regulations continue to evolve, our community is required to devote more money and resources to comply.

This is a huge issue for communities who are struggling to meet these regulations with limited resources, says Kemper.

EPA realizes this, and in June 2012, released its “Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework,” which emphasized a commitment to work with states and communities to implement an integrated planning approach to address environmental objectives.

In response to this opportunity, leaders from the City of Springfield, Greene County and CU developed a local approach to integrated planning, titled “A Citizen Focused Approach.” This holistic approach proposes to use local knowledge to examine our environmental resources related to wastewater and stormwater as well as solid waste, drinking water, and air quality.

The plan received written approval from both the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and EPA Region 7. The premise behind the work is to take a holistic look at each of our environmental needs and prioritize our investments based on the most effective solutions to address the most pressing problems that matter most to our community, Kemper added.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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