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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas Executive Summary Although significant progress has been made in improving the nation's water quality over the past 20 years, many coastal areas continue to suffer from persistent environmental problems and can expect to encounter new problems in the future. Today's coastal water-quality management practices do not provide adequate protection from some types of problems and in some cases are overprotective of other types of problems. Much of the debate over how to protect and improve coastal water-quality has focused on urban wastewater and stormwater management. This report, as requested of the National Research Council by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the direction of Congress, examines issues relevant to wastewater management in coastal urban areas. These issues include environmental objectives, policies, and regulations; technology; management techniques; systems analysis and design; and environmental modeling. The National Research Council was not asked to review past policies or decisions. Instead, it was directed to identify opportunities for improving the current system through which coastal urban wastewater and stormwater are managed. The report identifies several key areas in which specific progress could be made, and recommends a new framework for coastal management toward which current management practices should evolve. It addresses the management of marine and estuarine areas in particular and does not consider the Great Lakes. The scope of activities involved in the management of wastewater and stormwater in coastal cities is large and complex. In the broadest terms, the purpose of managing these wastes is to protect the environment while using
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas it for waste disposal. At least 37 percent of the United States' population resides along the coast, mostly in urban areas. More than 1,400 municipal wastewater treatment plants provide service to the coastal population, discharging 10 billion gallons of treated effluent per day. During the period from 1972 to 1992, about $76 billion were spent in constructing or expanding publicly owned treatment works; $50 billion of this total came from federal grants. At an estimated operating cost ranging from $300 to $500 per million gallons of treated effluent, the national expenditure for operating these plants is between $1.1 billion and $1.8 billion per year. The management of wastewater and stormwater in coastal urban areas takes place in the context of a multitude of other human activities and natural processes within the coastal zone. Some major factors that cause perturbations in the coastal zone include, in no special order, municipal wastewater and stormwater discharges; combined sewer overflows; other urban runoff; direct industrial wastewater discharges; agricultural runoff; atmospheric deposition; ground water flow; boating traffic; shipping; dredging and filling; leaching of contaminated sediments; oil and gas production; introduction of nonindigenous species; harvesting of fish and shellfish; freshwater impoundment and diversion; and land-use changes in coastal drainage basins. THE CURRENT APPROACH TO WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT IN COASTAL AREAS While treatment plant and outfall technologies often dominate discussions of wastewater issues, they are only two of many important pieces that together make up a coastal wastewater management strategy. Other, less visible components of a management strategy include source control efforts to discourage the production of undesirable wastes and prevent their introduction into wastewater and stormwater drainage systems; education to encourage changes in behavior such as appropriate methods for disposal of automobile oil; monitoring to assure compliance and ascertain the effectiveness of management strategies; and environmental studies to improve understanding of the impact of wastewater management strategies and point toward opportunities for improvement. Water conservation and reclamation programs also can be important components of an integrated strategy. Federal Legislation Current wastewater and stormwater management policies are rooted in the 1972 amendments to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, reauthorized in 1977 and 1987 as the Clean Water Act. The 1972 act set the nation on a fundamentally new course for protecting its waters. It asserted federal
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas authority over the quality of navigable waters, required the establishment of uniform minimum federal standards for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, set strict deadlines for compliance, established a national discharge permit system, and provided substantial amounts of federal grant money to help pay for the newly required projects. The 1972 act resulted in a tremendous effort to control water pollution and produced notable water-quality improvements around the country, particularly in rivers and lakes. While the approach laid out in the 1972 act produced rapid and effective improvements in many areas, it has not always allowed a process that adequately addresses regional variations in environmental systems around the country or responds well to changing needs, improved science, and more complete information. A provision in the 1977 Clean Water Act attempted to recognize the differences in how municipal wastewater discharges affect marine waters versus freshwater rivers, lakes, and streams. For a limited time, coastal publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) were allowed to apply for waivers which would exempt them from the federal minimum requirement of secondary treatment if they were able to demonstrate that their treatment and disposal practices provided adequate protection of the environment.1 Dischargers who were granted waivers also had to institute source control and monitoring programs that went far beyond those required for dischargers that met the technology-based requirement.2 The opportunity to apply for an initial waiver expired at the end of 1982; some applications are still pending. Approximately 40 dischargers are currently operating under waivers; they range from small community systems in the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and the trust territories, to large municipal systems such as the County Sanitation Districts of Orange County, California. Progress and Emerging Concerns As improvements have been made in the quality of point source discharges, the impacts of other sources of pollution, diffuse or nonpoint sources, have become more apparent. In some areas, even if pollution from all point sources were controlled, nonpoint contributions would still cause significant environmental problems. Thus, any solution to coastal environmental 1 Section 301(h) of the Clean Water Act requires that applicants demonstrate ''the attainment or maintenance of water quality which assures . . . protection and propagation of a balanced, indigenous population of shellfish, fish and wildlife, and allows recreation activities, in and on the water", in addition to source control, monitoring, and other requirements. 2 Technology-based requirements are performance standards based on the capability of an existing technology, as opposed to performance standards based on the receiving water requirements.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas problems must address the entire range of sources of disruption that causes adverse impacts. Since 1972, important changes have taken place in government, science, engineering, and the expectations of the public in regard to wastewater and stormwater management and environmental protection. Budget limitations at all levels of government point to the need to spend public money more efficiently. Much has been learned from experience in managing coastal environments. Advances in science have greatly improved understanding of coastal environmental processes, and advances in engineering have led to the development and use of improved technologies for managing coastal resources. As a result of the 1972 act, there is now a well developed permitting system for point source dischargers coupled with a federal enforcement authority. Constituents of Concern Wastewater and stormwater management strategies focus on controlling the release of potentially harmful constituents to the environment. As with any activity that affects the environment, the potential for harm depends on the magnitude of the insult, where it occurs, and the characteristics of the stress. In general, a wastewater constituent may be considered to be of high concern if it poses significant risk to human health or ecosystems well beyond points of discharge and is not under demonstrable control. A wastewater constituent may be generally considered to be of lower concern if it causes only local impact or is under demonstrable control. In the collective judgement of the Committee, in general, it may be anticipated that national level priorities for wastewater constituents in coastal urban areas over the next several decades will be as described below and summarized in Table ES.1. It is noted, however, that priorities may differ at the local and regional level depending on site-specific circumstances. High Priority Nutrients. Many estuaries of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts currently experience widespread eutrophication from excess inputs of nutrients, usually nitrogen, and more are vulnerable to excess nutrient enrichment. Secondary treatment does not remove significant amounts of nitrogen from wastewater. Nutrients come from a variety of point and diffuse sources. To adequately address their effects on coastal water bodies, all relevant sources need to be identified and compared, and the most important inputs reduced or otherwise diverted. Pathogens. Over 100 pathogenic viruses and bacteria have been identified in runoff and sewage. Numerous shellfish beds and bathing beaches
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas TABLE ES.1 Anticipated National-Level Priorities for Constituents of Concern Priority Pollutant Groups Examples High Nutrients Nitrogen Pathogens Enteric viruses Toxic organic chemicals PAHs Intermediate Selected trace metals Lead Other hazardous materials Oil, chlorine Plastics and floatables Beach trash, oil, and grease Low Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) Solids NOTE: Within each priority group the order of listing does not indicate further ranking. are closed due to unacceptable levels of coliform bacteria each year. However, neither the true extent of contamination by actual human pathogens nor the dominant sources of contamination are adequately known in most regions. Toxic Organic Chemicals. Chronic industrial and wastewater point sources of toxic chemicals such as chlorinated dioxins, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and solvents have been identified and controlled or are readily subject to control with existing technology. In fish and shellfish, levels of some toxic organics (including chemicals no longer produced in the United States, such as PCBs and DDT) are dropping nationwide, while others such as petroleum hydrocarbons are apparently not declining. Urban runoff, combined sewer overflows and contaminated sediments due to past uncontrolled discharges are major continuing sources of toxic organic chemicals in many coastal urban areas. Although the original source of contamination may have been controlled, contaminated sediments may continue to be secondary sources of contamination to fish, shellfish, and seabirds for many years or decades. Intermediate Priority Metals. Elevated concentrations of potentially toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, and tin are still found in shellfish in localized urban areas, but these problems are not large-scale or region-wide concerns. Dissolved metals may affect species distributions in coastal ecosystems. Most metals do not biomagnify through marine food webs. Source control has been effective in several areas in reducing concentrations. Future problems
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas can be expected to be with lead and localized cases of contamination by organometals. As with toxic organic chemicals, metals from past uncontrolled discharges still contaminate sediments especially near harbors, and can be a significant source of contamination to overlying waters and local aquatic life. Oil and Other Hazardous Materials. The probability of major oil spills is low, but their immediate impacts on coastal ecosystems and local industries (e.g., fishing, tourism) can be devastating. Of greater consequence, however, are the thousands of unpublicized small spills and leaks (e.g., illegal disposal of used automobile crankcase oil in storm drains) which occur daily in coastal urban areas and may add up to large chronic inputs of petroleum hydrocarbons. Toxic chemicals used in wastewater treatment (e.g., chlorine compounds) and industrial and commercial settings (e.g., solvents, arsenicals) are transported across urban coastal areas and subject to accidental release. Though not a central part of the wastewater management issue, spills need to be accounted for in addressing coastal quality issues. Floatables and Plastics. Beaches continue to be fouled by trash from land-based sources, especially following episodic weather conditions such as storms and unusual changes in coastal currents. Marine debris poses hazards to wildlife as well as people, and is aesthetically displeasing. There is considerable opportunity for use of predictive simulation models, such as oil spill trajectory models, to identify sources of marine debris and develop control strategies. Low Priority Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). In open coastal waters and well-flushed estuaries, oxygen depletion due to BOD from wastewater discharged through a well-designed outfall is generally not of ecological concern. In these situations, organic material from wastewater is a minor, localized cause of oxygen depletion, especially relative to that due to nutrients. In most coastal urban areas in which BOD from wastewater is of significant concern, it is being controlled under existing requirements. Solids. Settleable and suspended solids from large wastewater outfalls were once the major cause of localized accumulations of anaerobic sediments and damaged seafloor ecosystems. Where they were significant in the United States (e.g., large municipal outfalls, pulp mills), these conditions have been controlled with primary or advanced treatment, and high dilution outfalls. Today, the degree of solids removal required is driven by the need to protect sediments from accumulations of particle-associated
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas pollutants. Heavy urban runoff, including combined sewer overflows (CSOs), in some areas may still be a source of localized solids accumulations and warrant control. KEY ISSUES RELATING TO WASTEWATER AND STORMWATER MANAGEMENT The Committee identified seven specific areas which present opportunities for improving wastewater management in coastal urban areas. Then, based on its analysis of these and other issues, the Committee proposes a new framework for managing coastal waters, integrated coastal management. Regional Differences Finding: Because of the wide variations encountered in coastal systems, it is not possible to prescribe a particular technology or approach at the national level that will address all water quality issues at all locations satisfactorily. Any such approach would necessarily fail to protect resources in some coastal regions and would place excessive and unnecessary requirements on others. Recommendation: Coastal wastewater and stormwater management strategies should be tailored to the characteristics, values, and uses of the particular receiving environment based on a determination of what combination of control measures can effectively achieve water and sediment quality objectives. Discussion: The environmental effects of a POTW discharge from an outfall or urban stormwater from a shoreline outlet depend strongly on the physical, chemical, and biological nature of the receiving water body, and its geography and bathymetry. The degree of flushing of the receiving water with relatively uncontaminated ocean water is a major factor in determining the concentration of nutrients or persistent contaminants in coastal or estuarine waters. In general, this coastal exchange is much slower for the estuaries and shallow coastal shelf waters along the East and Gulf coasts than for the deeper narrow shelf waters of the Pacific coast. The opportunity for accumulation of wastewater particles and any associated pollutants in bottom sediments also depends greatly on receiving water characteristics. Estuaries may trap sediments and pollutants because flocculation is enhanced where fresh water mixes with salt water. Along the open coasts, deposition is more likely to occur in areas with slow currents and limited exchange with deep water. Finally the resources to be protected, and water and sediment quality objectives may be quite different among various regions and discharge sites.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas The engineering and scientific capability needed to account for these variations has developed significantly over the past 20 years. Nutrients in Coastal Waters Finding: Nutrient enrichment, primarily due to nitrogen, is an important problem in many estuarine and some coastal marine systems. Recommendation: Greater attention should be focused on preventing excess regional enrichment of nitrogen and other nutrients at levels that are harmful to ecosystems. Discussion: Nutrient enrichment can cause oxygen depletion, reduced fish and shellfish populations, nuisance algal blooms, and dieback of seagrasses and corals. While not known to be a problem along much of the open Pacific coast, excess nutrient enrichment, or eutrophication, is a persistent problem in many estuaries, bays, and semi-enclosed waterbodies along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and may even be of concern over a large scale in some more open areas along these coasts. Nitrogen controls primary production and eutrophication in most temperate estuaries and coastal waters, although phosphorus can be of concern in many tropical waters and perhaps in some temperate estuaries. By contrast, in freshwater systems, phosphorus is almost always the nutrient limiting growth. It may be important to keep nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations low relative to silicon to avoid causing nuisance algal blooms such as red and brown tides. Both the sources of nutrients to coastal waters and the associated effects occur at the regional scale making them difficult to measure, assess, and manage. Nutrient inputs to coastal waters come from both point and diffuse sources including wastewater treatment plants, agricultural runoff, urban runoff, ground water seepage, atmospheric deposition, and release of previously accumulated nutrients from bottom sediments. Source Control and Water Conservation Findings: 1. Reduction or elimination of pollutants at their sources is an effective tool for managing both point and diffuse sources. For example, for trace metals and toxic organics, source control is more efficient than removal at central plants, which may then have problems of safe disposal of large volumes of contaminated sludge. 2. Water conservation reduces the volume of sewage requiring collection and treatment, however, it does not change the total mass of wastewater pollutants; in fact, pollutant concentrations may actually be increased. The benefits of water conser-
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas vation include reduced cost of facilities for water supply and wastewater treatment, and reduced impacts in the region from which surface or ground water supplies are extracted. Recommendation: Source control of pollutants should be strongly encouraged by incentives and regulation. Discussion: Many toxic substances are difficult and/or expensive to remove from wastewater. Often, however, these materials can be prevented from entering the wastestream or significantly reduced in amount through pollution prevention programs. For example, industrial pretreatment and source control programs have already achieved significant reductions of trace metals, toxic organics, and oil and grease in the influent and thus in the effluent and sludge products from municipal wastewater treatment plants (AMSA 1990). In the case of urban runoff, erosion controls at construction sites, street sweeping, storm drain warning signs, and public education efforts have led to improvements in some areas. In new developments, stormwater designs can significantly slow runoff and increase infiltration into the ground and improve stormwater quality. Levels of Treatment Findings: 1. Important water and sediment quality problems in the coastal zone include excessive levels of nutrients, pathogens, and toxic substances. 2. Toxic pollutants are often associated with particles in wastewater discharges. Particle removal is therefore a very important treatment step for protecting sediments from excessive carbon enrichment and accumulation of toxic substances. 3. Chemically-enhanced primary treatment has been used successfully to increase the removal of suspended solids in POTWs. Removals of 80 to 85 percent have been achieved with low doses of chemicals; higher removals are possible with higher doses. This level of removal for suspended solids is nearly equivalent to the EPA performance standard for secondary treatment. EPA requires that 30-day averages for removal of suspended solids be at least 85 percent, with effluent concentrations of less than 30 mg/l. 4. The depletion of dissolved oxygen (DO) is generally not of ecological concern in the ocean or in open coastal waters. Where low DO levels are of concern, as in some estuaries, they are more likely to result from eutrophication by nutrients rather than from point source inputs of BOD. In these situations, secondary or any other treatment implemented
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas solely for BOD removal produces little improvement in receiving water quality. 5. Implementation of an environmental quality-based approach in coastal areas would require levels of treatment in POTWs that, depending on regional needs and receiving-water characteristics, will often be different, either higher or lower, than current requirements. Recommendation: Coastal municipal wastewater treatment requirements should be established through an integrated process on the basis of environmental quality as described, for example, by water and sediment quality criteria and standards, rather than by technology-based regulations. Discussion: A wide array of wastewater treatment processes is available, however, the costs of treatment and volumes of waste sludges produced tend to increase with increasing removal capabilities. Generally, it is simplest to remove large solids, oil, and grease, then BOD, and then nutrients. Some removal of fine solids, toxic metals and organic substances, and pathogens can be expected with most treatment systems. Environmental and human health concerns associated with wastewater contaminants differ depending on the location and mechanism of their introduction into coastal waters. Accordingly, wastewater treatment, sludge disposal practices, and other management controls should be guided by water and sediment quality requirements of the receiving waters. Wastewater solids are of concern in most environments because of the possible toxicity of associated heavy metals, organic substances, and pathogens. BOD is of interest in most bays, estuaries, and semi-enclosed waterbodies because of the effects of oxygen depletion on aquatic life. Widespread problems of oxygen depletion in estuaries and coastal waters are much more likely to result from excess nutrient enrichment than from BOD originating directly from wastewater flows. BOD from wastewater flows is generally not important in the open ocean. Chemically enhanced primary treatment is an effective technology for removing suspended solids and associated contaminants. It has potential application in situations where BOD is not a significant concern. It can also be combined with biological treatment for BOD and/or nutrient removal. Stormwater and Combined Sewer Overflows Finding: Urban runoff and CSOs are major contributors to water quality problems in coastal urban areas. Recommendation: Stormwater and CSO abatement requirements should be based to the greatest extent possible on an understanding of regional
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas and local hydrology and coastal oceanography. They should be designed in conjunction with other regional environmental protection programs to produce the most cost-effective program for achieving the desired level of protection for receiving waters. Discussion: Many older cities, primarily in, but not limited to, the northeastern United States, have combined collection systems that carry both stormwater and municipal sewage. During even small rainstorms or if improperly maintained, these systems can overflow, discharging untreated sewage, industrial wastewater, and urban runoff into nearby waterways. The way in which urban runoff and CSOs affect receiving waters is significantly different from continuous, point loadings. Rainfall induced loads are not constant, but intermittent, pulsed loads. In general, the greatest concentration of pollutants is contained in the first flush of stormwater, with concentrations decreasing as a storm continues. Reducing pollutant loads from urban runoff and CSOs is significantly more challenging and potentially more costly than removing pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewaters. Wastewater treatment processes are designed to treat relatively constant and continuous flows, and perform poorly when subjected to the extreme variations in flow that are characteristic of stormwater flows. Currently, pollutant removal efficiencies of treatment facilities for CSOs and urban runoff cannot be stated with sufficient confidence to design a facility plan that will limit pollutant loads from these sources to a prescribed level. Given the cost of constructing these facilities on a large scale in urban areas ($20 to $60 million per square mile for combined sewer areas and $6 thousand to $3.8 million per square mile for stormwater facilities (APWA 1992)), a serious, well-funded research program is needed. In the absence of the ability to predict pollutant discharge concentrations accurately, there have been proposals to legislate technology-based requirements mandating the capture and treatment of precipitation from all storms up to a certain size and frequency. The difficulty with such requirements is the same as that for other technology-based treatment requirements: in some cases they are likely to result in costly overcontrol; in others, undercontrol with continued adverse environmental effects; and in relatively few cases will they likely meet the environmental protection requirements of a particular region in a cost-effective way. Detecting Human Pathogens Finding: Although concentrations of coliform bacteria higher than conventional standards indicate unacceptably high risk of exposure to human pathogens through water contact sports or consumption of shellfish, the opposite is not
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas true—concentrations of coliform bacteria below the standards do not reliably predict that waters and shellfish have safe levels of pathogens. Recommendation: The EPA, public health agencies, and wastewater treatment agencies should vigorously pursue the development and implementation of techniques appropriate for routine monitoring to measure more directly the presence of pathogens, particularly in marine and estuarine waters. Human pathogens (e.g., enteroviruses associated with diabetes, diarrhea and meningitis, and protozoa such as Giardia) can be detected routinely in untreated wastewater. Levels of such pathogens present in treatment plant discharges vary as a function of the level of infection in the community that produces the wastewater and the type of treatment processes used. The traditional method for assessing the presence or potential presence of human pathogens in wastewater effluent, stormwater, and the ambient environment has been to use coliform bacteria as an indicator of disease-causing organisms. However, coliforms are not predictors of the presence or survival of pathogens, such as viruses or parasites. For example, in the United States, outbreaks of illnesses due to enteric pathogens such as the hepatitis A virus continue to occur and are associated with consumption of shellfish from areas contaminated by nearby wastewater discharges although coliform standards were being met. The risk of disease transmission related to wastewater management practices needs to be better understood. Evaluation and Feedback Finding: The effectiveness of management systems and approaches can only be determined and corrected when necessary, if there is adequate monitoring, research, evaluation, and feedback. Recommendation: Management systems should be flexible so that they may be changed as needed to respond to new information about environmental quality and the performance of existing management systems. Discussion: It is important that management systems be sufficiently flexible to allow for changes and improvements in response to new information. Evaluations should take into account both the effectiveness of specific components and that of the whole integrated management effort. In order to improve future decisions and control measures, evaluations should focus on lessons learned through implementation experiences. For example, the ability to use mathematical models to predict the behavior of sewage effluent in coastal systems has advanced dramatically over the past 20 years. However, comparatively little effort has been put toward the prototype verification of model predictions. In order to make good use of and improve these tools, it is important that follow-up studies be carried out.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas INTEGRATED COASTAL MANAGEMENT The Committee believes that whether because of any of the seven issues identified above or because of other concerns, most coastal cities now, or in the near future, will face the need to address complex coastal quality management issues. With increasing population pressures, increasing recognition of the importance of nonpoint sources in coastal waters, and the decreasing availability of public funding at the federal, state, and local levels, coastal cities face the need to establish objectives and set priorities for protecting coastal resources. The Committee therefore proposes a framework for managing coastal resources toward which coastal environmental quality management should evolve. This framework, integrated coastal management, should provide the opportunity to consider regional differences, multiple sources of perturbations, costs, and benefits in the development of management strategies. Finding: Wastewater and stormwater management strategies should be developed in the context of each other and other important sources of perturbation in the coastal zone. Successful management strategies must take into account the multiple sources and identify approaches for controlling inputs in the most cost-effective manner. For example, there may be cases where it is more effective and/or efficient to control other sources rather than upgrading wastewater treatment systems or where cooperative efforts among stormwater agencies, wastewater agencies, water supply agencies, and other institutions charged with managing and/or protecting the region's resources can arrive at mutually beneficial solutions in a more cost-effective manner. Urban coastal wastewater and stormwater management should be based on the following concepts: Water quality and sediment quality criteria and standards should be established taking account of risk, uncertainty, and variability among regions and sites. A water- and sediment-quality driven approach should be used, with appropriate modeling, to design pollution control systems. All sources of pollutants should be considered in the development of regional strategies. Policies should be integrated across all media, taking account of environmental impacts on water, air, and land. Management options should reflect societal goals and priorities, incorporate public inputs, be cost effective, consider relative risks, and achieve benefits at least commensurate with the costs of controls. Management actions should be implemented incrementally so as to provide the flexibility to respond to feedback from monitoring the effect of operating systems, new research results, new technologies, and changing objectives.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas Recommendation: Wastewater and stormwater management and other protection strategies for coastal urban areas should be developed and implemented within a system of integrated coastal management (ICM). ICM is an ecologically based, iterative process for identifying and implementing, at the regional scale, environmental objectives and cost-effective strategies for achieving them. Integrated coastal management, as proposed here, is an approach that holds much promise for effective and efficient systematic management of the coastal environment. ICM is an ecologically based, iterative process for identifying, at a regional scale, environmental objectives and cost-effective strategies for achieving them. Through ICM, environmental and human resources that require protection can be identified, the multitude of factors that may contribute to adverse impacts can be considered, and the relative importance of various impacts and contributors can be weighed. The ICM process is flexible so that problems can be addressed at a variety of levels of integration depending on their complexity, and priorities can be set in an explicit manner. ICM, as proposed here, has two fundamental objectives: (1) to restore and maintain the ecological integrity of coastal ecosystems, and (2) to maintain important human values and uses associated with those areas. Six key principles underlie the implementation of ICM. (1) Management actions need to be developed on the basis of the best scientific knowledge available about ecological functions as well as on a comprehensive understanding of human needs and expectations. (2) Management objectives should be expressed as water- and sediment-quality based, and other environmentally and health based goals. (3) Comparative assessment of both risk scenarios and management options should drive the selection of management strategies. (4) A transdisciplinary perspective is critical in coastal problem solving. (5) The system should function in a context that is responsive to scientific uncertainty about functions of coastal ecosystems. (6) The system should be driven by science and engineering together with public expectations. The Process ICM is a three-part process which should be implemented on a continuing basis. It is iterative with the aim of making incremental improvements in coastal environmental quality over time. The three principal components of the process are (1) dynamic planning, (2) selection and implementation, and (3) research and monitoring. The relationships among these components are shown in Figure ES.1. Of the three, the dynamic planning process is perhaps the most complex. It is within this component that ICM objec-
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas FIGURE ES.1 Process of integrated coastal management. tives should be evaluated for the region, goals set, risks identified and analyzed, and management alternatives developed and compared. The dynamic planning process should produce two types of results. One is a set of management alternatives to be considered for selection and implementation. The other is an agenda for research and monitoring that is needed to improve understanding and provide feedback on how well the selected management alternatives are working. It is within the selection and implementation process that alternatives should be weighed in regard to objectives, fiscal, regulatory, legal, and institutional constraints, and one should be selected and implemented. Finally, the research and monitoring component should drive the system into the future, bringing new information into the dynamic planning process and developing new methods and techniques for managing coastal resources. Through the continuing ICM process, problems should be tackled in a stepwise, incremental fashion, beginning with those that are of greatest importance as well as those that are easily solved, and then moving on to the next set of concerns.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas Benefits, Barriers, and Solutions Efforts to improve the current system of wastewater management and to implement a system of ICM should afford many benefits as well as encounter many barriers. An ICM system should lead to the development of clearly articulated objectives for the coastal environment. ICM also provides an improved opportunity to meet those objectives by tailoring solutions to specific environmental-quality goals within the region of concern. Flexibility in the combination of management approaches for achieving environmental protection, including increased emphasis on pollution prevention, source control, and economic incentives, provides improved opportunity for achieving environmental objectives. An integrated assessment of the relative risks to the coastal environment and a clear display of management costs and tradeoffs should allow for the implementation of more cost-effective solutions and prevent the diversion of funding from other important activities. Finally, a system of integrated coastal management should be based on expectations for coastal quality within the region. Thus, it provides the opportunity to harness the talent and strengths of individuals within the region and be responsive to local concerns and needs. With ICM, the federal role shifts from that of prescriptive mandate to a partnership with regional authorities in developing a management system that meets coastal quality objectives. As with any effort to change systems long in place, efforts to develop ICM plans are likely to encounter resistance. Identifying the appropriate geographical region defined by hydrologic and ecologic factors will inevitably cross political jurisdictions and require that there be coordination and cooperation where there may also be conflicting interests. The failure of earlier regional planning efforts mandated by the 1972 act may cause some to dismiss the potential effectiveness of ICM. However, ICM differs significantly from the Area-Wide Planning Studies mandated under section 208 of the Clean Water Act and carried out in the 1970s. The 208 planning process suffered from two fundamental flaws. First, it often was carried out by local agencies having few other water-quality responsibilities. Second, other provisions of the 1972 act, particularly the permitting and facilities funding requirements, forced action so rapidly that they could not be influenced by the planning process. With ICM, the planning process should be carried out by institutions that are vested with sufficient responsibility, resources, and authority to implement the resulting plan. Building consensus on objectives and goals among interested parties, responsible agencies, and other stakeholders is fundamental to the success of integrated coastal management and will require extensive deliberations and skillful leadership. A regional plan may result in increased public awareness, involvement, and support. In the final
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas analysis, the public is the most important component in making the ideals of an integrated approach a reality. Implementation Recommendation: Improvements in coastal environmental protection in the United States should take place in an incremental manner, building on what has been learned through past efforts and evolving toward a fully integrated and comprehensive approach to coastal protection. Moving toward integrated coastal management requires a continuing effort to press forward on scientific, engineering, regulatory, and management frontiers. It will involve risk taking and inevitably experience some setbacks; however, in the long term, ICM is expected to provide the opportunity to apply the most up-to-date information and technologies to coastal problems resulting in efficient and effective coastal protection. In many coastal regions an initial ICM plan could be based primarily on existing information. Immediate Actions There are several immediate actions that could be taken to shift the direction of current wastewater, stormwater, and coastal management policies toward one of integrated coastal management. Specifically, existing regional initiatives including those in the National Estuary Program provide an opportunity for implementing the principles of integrated coastal management. The development of Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plans (CCMP) under the National Estuary Program could be done through the ICM process. EPA should encourage states to include ICM concepts in CCMPs by providing supplemental funding to the expanded planning effort. There are three key areas in which any ongoing activities (including the preparation of a CCMP) directed at the protection and management of coastal waters could be improved. First, public involvement is critical to the success of coastal protection efforts and can be enhanced by increased agency budgets for public-involvement related activities, monitoring programs designed to use citizens, clear communication, and clear lines of authority. Second, scientific and technical information could be applied more effectively to decision-making. This area can be advanced by comparative analyses of risks and management options, good peer review, proper monitoring, directed research, and easily accessible information. Third, improvements could be made in existing institutional arrangements. Consideration should be given to vesting one entity responsible for a coastal region with at least
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas the following functions: responsibility for carrying out the ICM planning process, oversight for budget activities of responsible agencies, responsibility for the design and conduct of monitoring programs, and focal point for public accountability. Longer-Term Actions Although some aspects of ICM could be carried out under existing legislation, longer-term strategies are needed that could more fundamentally change the governance of coastal environmental quality, substituting flexibility and local initiative for rigidity and detailed federal control. Several modifications should be made to the two major pieces of federal legislation that address coastal environmental quality. Section 320 of the Clean Water Act should be modified to establish, as a supplement to the National Estuary Program, a National Coastal Quality Program that would also apply to those coastal regions that are not estuaries. It would include an integrated planning and management process and supplant the existing CCMP with an Iterative Action Plan that would embody ICM. The Clean Water Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act should be amended to provide the flexibility needed to facilitate local ICM initiatives and to better integrate the planning and implementation process between the two statutory systems. An initial effort has been made in this direction with respect to nonpoint sources of pollution. In the event that significant new federal funds are authorized to assist states and local governments in complying with the requirements of the Clean Water Act, the availability of these funds should be tied to appropriate use of the ICM process. Finally, some of the experience gained in implementing section 301(h) of the Clean Water Act, which provided the opportunity for waivers from secondary treatment for coastal dischargers, might be useful in the development of plans under the proposed National Coastal Quality Program. Long-Term Implementation In the next twenty years, it should be the nation's goal to implement a system of integrated coastal management for all of the country's urban shores. Full integration should include all sources of stress to the coastal environment. It should address all environmental media, looking at tradeoffs between disposal of waste to the land, water, and air. It should incorporate the principles of pollution prevention and source control and be a flexible process that facilitates progress and adapts to new information without pre-
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas scribing the technological means for meeting specified goals. Integrated coastal management should be based in regional objectives and goals for the coastal zone and involve a partnership between federal, state, and local institutions. The lessons learned from the past twenty years of progress clearly point to integrated coastal management as the best direction for the future. REFERENCES APWA (American Public Works Association). 1992. A Study of Nationwide Costs for Implementing Municipal Stormwater BMPs. Final Report. Water Resources Committee, Southern California Chapter. AMSA (Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies). 1990. 1988-1989 AMSA Pretreatment Survey Report.
Representative terms from entire chapter: