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Getting From Here To There

Your Guide To Selecting The Best Wastewater Treatment Management and Operations Option For Your Community

Each day in the United States, billions of gallons of domestic, commercial, and industrial wastewaters contaminated with a variety of pollutants flow through-sewers to more than 16,000 publicly-owned treatment works (POTWs). Since 1970, over $500 billion of public funds have been invested in providing safe and reliable wastewater services to 70 percent of the nation's population and more than 99 percent of the urban population.

Owning and operating a wastewater treatment and collection system is a daunting responsibility that requires long-term financial commitment and planning. With cutbacks in federal and state funding support, local communities are faced with the increasing financial burden of operating these facilities. Nationally, water and wastewater projects represent one of the largest local government expenditures — over $43.5 billion annually.

In light of local budget constraints, aging equipment and infrastructure increased regulatory demands, and the public perception that municipal services are too expensive and inefficient, many municipalities realize that they must find a better way to operate their POTW. Many municipalities have tried to solve these challenges by contracting with an outside organization (usually a private, for-profit firm) to perform all or some portion of the operations and maintenance functions for the POTW. Within this option, another scenario that is playing out with increased success is a process called "managed competition," whereby the public utility explores new ways to reorganize its operation while continuing to carrying out its traditional functions in-house.

Ultimately, the wastewater services solution that you choose for your municipality should be one that best suits the unique set of conditions in your municipality. The process that you use to arrive at that solution requires that you take stock of where you are now as well as all the things you need to consider in order to get to where you need to be. This booklet points out some key things you need to consider as you go through this process. If, as a result of this process, you decide to go the contract operations route (currently the most common wastewater services procurement option), this booklet also provides you with information about managing the procurement process for contract operations and ensuring that our contract is carried out as agreed.

A Community Commitment
Before entering into the process of determining the future direction of your municipal wastewater treatment operation, be sure that your community, as a whole, is aware of the issues associated with this decision and is committed to finding a solution that will ensure that the facility is well run and in compliance with federal/state National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements. To help meet the goals of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters." the act requires municipalities to obtain an NPDES permit for any discharge into a water body. In this regard, no matter who is running your wastewater services operation, your municipality is still responsible for meeting the NPDES permit requirements.

As you explore and deliberate your POTW operations and management options, keep in mind that your community's foremost responsibility, along with the United States Environmental Protection Agency and your state environmental protection agency, is to meet environmental requirements and protect the public health and welfare.

What Are the Federal and State Environmental Agency Roles?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responsibility for ensuring that POTWs are operated cost-effectively and benefit the community and the environment, no

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