Purpose: The purpose of this framework is to guide Missouri’s municipalities through the development of an integrated plan to prioritize investments to meet environmental requirements. The development of integrated plan is the responsibility of the municipality as it is voluntary. This framework identifies the principles, elements and implementation practices that each municipality should consider while developing an integrated plan. The Department of Natural Resources is committed to reviewing and assisting each community that determines an integrated plan is the appropriate approach to take in order to meet the requirements of the Missouri Clean Water Law and the federal Clean Water Act.
In June 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the “Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework.” This framework provides guidance for municipalities that need to identify and prioritize implementation of their existing and future wastewater and stormwater investments in a manner that is affordable to ratepayers. The Department supports this approach. During the development of an integrated plan the following framework should be used in addition to the 2012 EPA framework.
Integrated planning will assist municipalities on their critical paths to achieving the human health and water quality objectives of the Missouri Clean Water Law and the federal Clean Water Act by identifying efficiencies in implementing requirements that arise from distinct wastewater and stormwater programs, including how to best make capital investments. Integrated planning does not remove obligations to comply with the Missouri Clean Water Law and Clean Water Act, nor does it lower existing regulatory or permitting standards. However, it does recognize that there are flexibilities in the Missouri Clean Water Law and Clean Water Act that allow for the appropriate prioritization and sequencing or scheduling of work.
The Department recognizes each community must meet numerous requirements relating to regulatory drivers. Where applicable, communities are encouraged to engage with other departments within the municipality and/or neighboring communities during the integrated planning process.
The following are comprehensive principles the Department suggests the municipality should consider when establishing an integrated plan for water, wastewater and stormwater opportunities and requirements under state and federal regulations. Also presented are guiding principles the Department recommends a municipality should use in the development of its integrated plans.
- This effort does not lower nor does it remove existing regulatory standards that protect public health and water quality.
- This effort will allow a municipality to develop a plan that identifies and addresses a community’s highest public health and environmental risks first.
- It is the municipality’s responsibility to develop an integrated plan.
- The Department encourages municipalities to include investments that provide multiple benefits, such as, green infrastructure as a part of the integrated planning process.
- When integrated plans are used to request the modification of an existing schedule of compliance, it will be important that the regulatory permit(s) and/or order(s) that integrated plan is addressing be in a final or nearly final state to facilitate a meaningful schedule of compliance or order modification request.
Principles to Guide the Development of an Integrated Plan
The Department recognizes that the scope and detail of individual integrated plans will necessarily be tailored to the community developing the plan. However, the Department recommends that a municipality developing an integrated plan address the following items, where applicable:
- Consult the Department to gain input on priority settings and other key implementation issues.
- To the extent possible, provide an attainable schedule that identifies all of the environmental and public health obligations the community expects to address during the term of the integrated plan.
- Consider details on the financial capability of the community. Pursuant 644.145 RSMo; financial capability is defined as the capability of a community to make water quality-related improvements. If the integrated plan is used to support specific permitting activities or to establish schedules of compliance, it may be necessary for the community to provide information such as:
- bonding capacity
- current bonds
- the maturity dates of current bonds
- bond rating
- sales tax
- property tax
- population trends or projections
- income distribution
- unemployment rate
- housing costs
- municipalities’ debt burden such as unfunded pension and health care commitments to retirees,
- rate or revenue models
- current and projected rates of other utilities
- rate determination studies used to determine recent rate increases
- data and trends on late payments, disconnection notices, service terminations and uncollectable accounts
- extraordinary stressors such as those from a natural disaster or a municipal bankruptcy.
- Include an alternative’s analysis detailing the process and metrics used to determine which alternatives are the highest priority options for the community.
- If applicable, include supporting documents that detail the plan’s use of estimated costs for the most practical treatment options and practices.
- Evaluate potential rate structure necessary to implement integrated plan alternatives and ensure that a financial strategy to meet all obligations has been considered.
- Include methodology on how the community will meet the items listed within the integrated plan.
- Evaluate the potential for incorporating investment opportunities that provide multiple benefits, such as green infrastructure.
- Identify areas of increased efficiency where activities of one program can be leveraged to provide benefits of another program.
- Include community engagement in order to facilitate support from the residents, stakeholders and neighboring communities.
- Include periodic monitoring and reporting so that progress can be tracked and any shortcomings can be readily addressed.
III. Elements of an Integrated Plan
Defining the Scope:
Any upgrades, improvements, or operation and maintenance as regulated by a Department-issued permit can be incorporated into the integrated plan. Each of the permits may have different owners/operators responsible for the various types of plants/ facilities as well as different geographic service areas and different service populations. In addition, integrated plans, may address source water protection efforts that protect surface water supplies, and/or nonpoint source control through proposed trading approaches or other implementation mechanisms. As stated in the 2012 EPA written document Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework, “when developing an integrated plan, a municipality must determine and define the scope of the integration effort, ensure the participation of entities that are needed to implement the integrated plan and identify the role each entity will have in implementing the plan.”
An integrated plan should be tailored to fit the size of the municipality/community, the complexity of infrastructure, and the environmental issues addressed in the plan. Communication with the Department is encouraged during this time to ensure all criteria are met during the draft phase of the plan. Each plan will be site specific toward the municipality/community; however, each integrated plan should include the following elements:
Element 1: A description of the regulatory issues to be addressed in the plan, including:
- An assessment of existing challenges in meeting Clean Water Act or Missouri Clean Water Law requirements.
- If applicable, dates of compliance schedules.
- Pollutants, best management practices, and other new requirements needed to be addressed within the plan.
- Identification of human health threats.
- Identification of environmental impairments such as, but not limited to; 303(d) listed streams, brownfields, wetlands, surface and groundwater supplies, and other sensitive environmental areas of concern,
- Metrics for evaluating and meeting human health and environmental objectives
Element 2: A description of existing infrastructure under consideration and summary information describing the systems’ current performance, including:
- Identification of municipalities and utilities that are participating in the planning effort. The integrated plan can include multiple municipalities and/or related groups such as non-profit organizations.
- A characterization of the systems included in the plan. Pertinent information may include:
- A list of issued, expired and/or public noticed permits relating to the plan.
- Recent inspection reports pertaining to the facilities within the integrated plan.
- Enforcement documents relating to the utilities acknowledged in the plan.
- Existing asset inventories, renewal needs, condition assessment data, and asset management programs and processes.
Element 3: A process for identifying, evaluating and selecting alternatives and proposing implementation schedules which addresses:
- A plan that will help municipalities/communities responsibly meet their Missouri Clean Water Law, Clean Water Act and other environmental obligations by using sustainable infrastructure planning approaches such as asset management, to assist in providing information necessary for prioritizing investments.
- Identification of alternatives to conventional treatment, including cost estimates, potential financial burdens and potential environmental benefits from each alternative. The alternatives analysis should include documentation on the qualitative and quantitative evaluations to prioritize alternatives and on how green infrastructure was considered through the decision making process.
- Steps to incorporate community involvement and to identify community sustainability priorities. If applicable, details on how the utility consulted with neighboring communities and if applicable, nonprofit organizations, about potential partnership opportunities to share costs, information and/or services.
- Identification of the projects selected including supporting documentation on why these in the most practicable and the highest priority for the municipality/municipalities.
- The financial capabilities of the municipality/municipalities, including the bonding capacity, potential revenue sources, current residential user rates that are directly related to any project listed within the integrated plan and other relevant factors impacting the utilities rate base.
- Descriptions of anticipated costs (total present worth, capital costs, and operations and maintenance, projected user rates).
- Selection of proposed project funding sources (financing from current revenue, Missouri State Revolving Funds, other government grants/ loans, or bonds, property or sales tax increases).
- A detailed description of the priorities of the projects selected which includes the adverse impacts the current infrastructure places on the public health and environmental health of the community.
- Proposed implementation schedules that include the maturity dates of any bonds previously obtained by the municipality/community as well as complete debt retirement information from any current debt related to existing infrastructure included within the plan, planned rate or fee increases and other relevant information.
Element 4: Monitoring and Modifications: a monitoring program should be incorporated into the integrated plan so that each municipality/community stays on track during the proposed schedule.
- The community will need to ensure that each step within the integrated plan is met. Each integrated plan should include an annual mechanism whereby the communities evaluate milestones of the integrated plan that were started or completed during the previous year. For those components of the plan that support a request for modification of a permit or enforcement schedule; annual reporting will be required via the permit or enforcement document.
- Modifications to the integrated plans may be necessary when the municipality’s financial capabilities change or new information is presented such as a new, less expensive technology that will meet requirements of the regulatory documents, or a higher priority need is identified. In general, an integrated plan should be evaluated every year and revised every five years. Communication between the municipality and the Department is necessary prior to a schedule/requirement within the plan being modified. This is especially important for those aspects of the integrated plan associated with a permit or enforcement schedule of compliance. All appropriate information to support the plan modification will need to be provided at that time.
- Integrated plan elements of a permit or enforcement action must meet the milestones or requirements outlined in the plan. If these terms are not met, the integrated plan component does not remove the Department's obligation to proceed with enforcement measures as specified in the permit or agreement.
Implementation may require coordination between state and federal NPDES permit and enforcement authorities. The Department will determine the appropriate roles of permit and enforcement authorities in addressing the regulatory requirements identified in the plan. As discussed below, elements of an integrated plan can be incorporated, where appropriate, into NPDES permits, enforcement actions, or both.
- Schedules of Compliance can be used for meeting water quality-based effluent limits in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued for discharges from POTWs and/or combined sewer overflows need to stay consistent with 40 CFR § 122.47. The schedule needs to require compliance with the new requirements “as soon as possible.”
- The Department will consider all environmental obligations within the integrated plan. However, if seeking approval of a schedule of compliance extension authorized under the Missouri Clean Water Law or Clean Water Act through the Department's Water Protection Program, the requirements as described in the Missouri Clean Water Law and Clean Water Act should be the main priority within the integrated plan.
- When appropriate, each utility should incorporate investment opportunities that provide multiple social and environmental benefits, such as green infrastructure approaches into the integrated planning effort in order to provide more sustainable solutions for the community/municipality.
- When appropriate, an integrated plan can be used in conjunction with an enforcement action such as an Administrative Order on Consent in order to address noncompliance with the Missouri Clean Water Law or Clean Water Act.
The integrated plan allows for a community/municipality to justify the appropriate sequencing of work, while prioritizing the most significant human health and environmental needs based on the financial capabilities of that community. The Department recognizes that there is potential for financial burden in order to maintain compliance with environmental regulations. It is the opinion of the Department that all municipalities begin the practice of sustainable planning to meet new regulatory requirements. An integrated plan completed by a municipality should include the guidance provided above while keeping in communication with the Department. Consistent communication will allow for refinement of the integrated plan over time.
Integrated Plans and any attachments should be submitted by mail to:
Department of Natural Resources
Water Protection Program
PO Box 176
Jefferson City, MO 65102
Nothing in this document may be used to implement any enforcement action or levy any penalty unless promulgated by rule under chapter 536 or authorized by statute.