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Water: Stormwater

Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans


EPA, the States and municipalities have achieved real progress in implementing the Clean Water Act (CWA) and protecting public health and the environment. The challenges today, however, are more complex than those of the past. Population growth, aging infrastructure, increasingly complex water quality issues and the current economic challenges are stressing the implementation of CWA programs. Today, EPA, States and municipalities often focus on each CWA requirement individually without full consideration of all CWA obligations. This approach may have the unintended consequence of constraining a municipality from addressing its most serious water quality issues first. 

An integrated planning process has the potential to identify a prioritized critical path to achieving the water quality objectives of the CWA by identifying efficiencies in implementing competing requirements that arise from separate wastewater and stormwater projects, including capital investments and operation and maintenance requirements. This approach can also lead to more sustainable and comprehensive solutions, such as green infrastructure, that improves water quality as well as supports other quality of life attributes that enhance the vitality of communities. The CWA and implementing regulations, policy and guidance provide the necessary flexibility to implement an integrated planning process.

The integrated planning approach is not about lowering existing regulatory or permitting standards or delaying necessary improvements. Rather, it is intended to be an option provided to help municipalities meet their CWA obligations by optimizing the benefits of their infrastructure improvement investments through the appropriate sequencing of work.


October 27, 2011, Memorandum entitled Achieving Water Quality Through Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans (PDF) (3 pp, 1.1MB, About PDF)


On Oct. 10, 2014, EPA announced its provision of $335,000 in technical assistance to five communities to develop components of integrated plans for meeting Clean Water Act (CWA) requirements for municipal wastewater and stormwater management.

These five projects will provide examples of how communities can develop elements of integrated plans to support CWA permit conditions. The projects will also provide useful information and transferable tools to other communities interested in integrated planning.

The selected projects represent a range of elements in EPA’s Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework (PDF) (9 pp, 396K, About PDF). EPA selected the following five communities:

  • Burlington, Vt.: The City of Burlington proposed to evaluate financial capacity; develop community evaluation criteria based on social, economic and environmental factors; develop a list of example projects that rank highly based on these criteria; and evaluate innovative methods of pollutant reduction.

  • Durham, N.H.: The Town of Durham and the University of New Hampshire proposed to evaluate the integration of technical and personnel resources, develop a wastewater and stormwater funding strategy, and develop a toolkit for tracking pollutant load contributions and reductions from wastewater and stormwater.

  • Santa Maria, Calif.: The City of Santa Maria proposed to develop an asset management approach to prioritize investments, identify innovative approaches such as green infrastructure measures, and identify environmental and public health benefits.

  • Springfield, Mo.: The City of Springfield, Greene County and City Utilities of Springfield proposed to develop a decision analysis tool to prioritize investments. The tool will identify, characterize and evaluate key pollutants and sources of water pollution.

  • Onondaga County, N.Y.: The Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection proposed to outline a process to engage stakeholders and identify, evaluate and select stormwater and wastewater projects.

On June 5, 2012, EPA released the final Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework (PDF) (9 pp, 396K, About PDF). The framework was developed in conjunction with the October 27, 2011 memorandum to provide further guidance for EPA, States and local governments in developing and implementing effective integrated plans under the CWA. This framework was finalized after extensive public input including a series of workshops across the country.


Local governments and other stakeholders have indicated that issues related to financial capability are key to implementing the Integrated Planning approach.  EPA guidance “Combined Sewer Overflows – Guidance for Financial Capability Assessment and Schedule Development” (FCA Guidance) provides a foundation for assessing a financial capability by describing a nationally consistent analysis to aid in negotiating schedules for implementing CWA requirements for municipalities.  The FCA Guidance also encourages permittees “to submit any additional documentation that would create a more accurate and complete picture of their financial capability” that may “affect the conclusion” of the analysis described in the guidance.   On November 24, 2014, after discussions with local governments, financial experts, and other stakeholders, EPA issued a memorandum to EPA Regions that transmitted a "Financial Capability Assessment Framework" (8 pp, 412K, About PDF) document that provides greater clarity on the flexibilities built into existing guidance that local governments or authorities can use in assessing their financial capability and provides examples of additional information that could be submitted.


EPA has developed responses to frequently asked questions about the Integrated Planning process (PDF) (10 pp, 234K, About PDF).


The links presented below provide more information related to NPDES program areas that address municipal obligations.

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