An Introduction to the Water Elements of EPA's Strategic Plan
EPA's FY 2014-2018 Strategic Plan charts a course for the Agency over the five years. It is organized around five key goals:
- Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality;
- Protecting America's Waters;
- Cleaning Up Our Communities and Advancing Sustainable Development;
- Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution; and
- Protecting Human Health and the Environment by Enforcing Laws and Assuring Compliance.
The Protecting America's Waters Goal of the Strategic Plan states:
Protect and restore waters to ensure that drinking water is safe and sustainably managed, and that aquatic ecosystems sustain fish, plants, wildlife, and other biota, as well as economic, recreational, and subsistence activities.
Within the Protecting America's Waters Goal, there are two specific objectives -
- Protect Human Health; and
- Protect and Restore Watersheds and Aquatic Ecosystems.
WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH?
With the help of states, tribes and other partners, EPA expects to make progress toward protecting human health and improving water quality by 2018.
Each of the major subobjectives is supported by additional "strategic targets" that further define expected improvements in human health and watersheds and ecosystems by 2018. In addition, the Goal includes specific expectations of progress to be made by 2018 in critical estuaries, the U.S.-Mexico Border area, the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay, the Long Island Sound, and the Puget Sound Basin.
WHAT IS THE STRATEGY?
The Strategic Plan describes, in general terms, how we expect to accomplish each of the health and environmental goals over the next five years. Three key strategies will drive progress toward these clean and safe water goals:
Core Programs: Continue effective implementation of core national water programs, giving priority to improving water quality monitoring and information management, as well as working with state partners to strengthen water quality standards, improve discharge permits, and reduce pollution from diffuse or “nonpoint” sources.
Water Infrastructure: Help sustain and secure the network of pipes and treatment facilities that constitute the nation’s water infrastructure through investments in State Revolving Loan funds, pursuit of innovative financing, local adoption of sustainable management practices, and an increased commitment to water efficiency as well as partnerships and technical assistance to enhance the abilities of utilities to plan for, prevent, detect, and respond to security threats.
Watershed Restoration and Protection: Apply a watershed approach to restoring polluted waters across the country, including developing Total Maximum Daily Loads, implementing clean-up plans on a watershed basis, and promoting innovative, cost-effective practices like water quality trading and watershed permitting to restore and protect water quality.