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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas 5 Benefits, Barriers, Solutions, and Implementation INTRODUCTION Prescriptive regulations derived from nationally applied technology-based performance standards have been the primary vehicle for achieving clean water objectives over the last twenty years. For industrial dischargers, specific requirements were developed for groups of industries, that tended to standardize treatment technology within each group. In the case of municipal wastewater dischargers, the performance standards include a minimum requirement of full secondary treatment for all but a small number of publicly owned treatment works (POTWs). The cost of constructing these treatment plants has been the single largest component of federal, state, and local expenditures for clean water over this time. Targeting municipal wastewater plant sources over the last twenty years made considerable practical sense. First, the municipalities had the institutional framework in place to expend large amounts of public funds to construct the needed infrastructure. The issues of fiscal management, professional services procurement, contract bidding, construction management, and facility operations were familiar subjects to most local governments. Not unlike the transportation, water supply, and flood control construction programs preceding them, wastewater construction could be managed by municipalities. Second, many municipal dischargers were major sources of poorly managed sanitary sewage and industrial waste. These discharges were, in turn, responsible for significant local and regional water pollution. Third, because these effects were so visible and reversible, it was obvi-
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas ous to Congress that the return on investment from an environmental, public, and political viewpoint would be great. The costs, though considerable, would be met with widespread public support. Beaches and fisheries could be improved. The public would see results—dramatic results, it was hoped—that would give this new public policy tangible value. Finally, even though understanding of water pollution causes and effects was somewhat limited, it was time to get on with the task of improving the country's waters. Previous attempts by the federal government, beginning with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 and the uneven and sometimes half-hearted attempts of the states to improve water quality in the 1950s and 1960s, had left a patchwork quilt of water quality problems. Directing massive amounts of federal, state, and local dollars to the problem, though arguably inefficient, would result in significant improvements in the most adversely impacted water bodies of the country. Thus Congress converted the high hopes of "fishable and swimmable"1 waters into a national mandate and a six-year plan. Undercontrol and Overcontrol As sensible as the strategy appeared in 1972, and as understandable as it looks today, its goals have not been universally achieved. For example, it appears that the act has led to frequent instances of undercontrol and overcontrol. Undercontrol occurs when mandated levels of treatment do not or are not expected to meet water quality goals. Although the act permits the Environmental Protection Agency to set more stringent standards in cases of undercontrol, solving these problems has proved far more daunting than the relatively simple task of implementing uniform technology-based regulations. In fact, significant portions of the coastal zone remain adversely affected and still short of being fishable and swimmable. Available evidence suggests cases of overcontrol as well, but the Clean Water Act has no present cure for this problem. Overcontrol means that some part of mandated treatment is not considered justified by the resulting environmental improvement. This implies that spending some of the money elsewhere could produce a larger overall environmental improvement. Identification of overcontrol requires careful analysis of incremental ecosystem effects as well as value judgements on social, and economic effects, e.g., are the environmental quality improvements too small? are social goals still satisfied? is the cost too great? Ideally, these judgements should be 1 One of the goals declared by Congress is to achieve ". . .water quality which provides for the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provides for recreation in and on the water be achieved. . ." (Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended, Section 101[a]).
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas made in the context of an integrated planning process, such as Integrated Coastal Management (ICM). Overcontrol is particularly likely along the ocean coasts, where dispersion of partially treated wastes in deep ocean water may produce few, if any, adverse effects. Nevertheless, full secondary treatment is required in every such case, regardless of cost or lack of benefits. For a time, such issues could be addressed in the waiver process provided in Section 301(h) of the Clean Water Act, but the provision to apply for an initial waiver expired at the end of 1982. Dischargers who have a waiver can request a renewal. Some initial applications are still pending. An example of undercontrol is provided by the case of Long Island Sound. Despite major improvements in treatment of municipal wastewater, the sound continues to experience hypoxia in the summer because of marine algae blooms caused by nitrogen enrichment. Contributions of nitrogen to the sound come from varied sources. While an estimated 28 percent of the nitrogen input comes from sewage treatment plants discharging directly into the sound, the remaining 72 percent comes from widespread point and nonpoint sources, some of which are upstream of the sound (LISS 1990). Those sewage treatment plants discharging to the sound and not yet at full secondary treatment are taking action to complete upgrades to full secondary treatment and some are adding nitrogen removal technology. Nevertheless, under the most optimistic projections, plants with nitrogen removal capability will control only three-quarters of their current nitrogen input and only one-fifth of the total input to the sound. Therefore, in the absence of controls for the other nitrogen sources, the hypoxia problems, while decreased, will not be eliminated by the future actions of the POTWs discharging directly into the sound. An integrated nitrogen management plan that manages all sources is envisioned in the Long Island Sound Study (LISS 1990). Such a plan must be fully implemented to solve the hypoxia problem. Long Island Sound is, therefore, a case of good news and bad news. The bad news is that the original national technology-based, end-of-pipe approach of the 1972 Clean Water Act will leave the hypoxia problems of the sound unresolved. The good news is that the trend toward future collaborative efforts of the states, counties, and cities to address nitrogen enrichment holistically indicate a great potential for success. The promise of an integrated approach to solving the hypoxia problem of Long Island Sound provides a model for a national approach to water quality objectives during the third decade of the Clean Water Act. Other cases of undercontrol can be found throughout the country. Overcontrol is less easy to demonstrate, since the necessary value judgements have usually not been made. Also, water quality conditions in the absence of some part of existing or improved treatment are sometimes not known with
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas any great confidence. Questions have been raised in the press and elsewhere, about the need for massive investment in secondary treatment for the Boston metropolitan area, or the similarly large investment by San Diego in biological secondary treatment, to replace chemically enhanced primary treatment. At issue are not only the appropriate levels of treatment but how to set priorities for addressing related problems, such as combined sewer overflows in Boston and water reclamation and stormwater discharges in San Diego. BENEFITS Chapters 3 and 4 describe a proposal for managing wastewater in coastal areas within the framework of integrated coastal management. A dynamic planning process is described, that permits management strategies and the means for implementing them to be selected from among a wide range of alternatives. The approach is fundamentally different from the command-and-control, technology-based strategy of the Clean Water Act. It is comprehensive rather than single-issue in nature; it expands the range of alternative strategies rather than promoting uniform responses; and it gives equal attention to industrial pretreatment and pollution prevention, rather than focusing on end-of-pipe measures. This approach would allow regulators to move beyond the limitations and inefficiencies of current practice without sacrificing any of the accomplishments of the Clean Water Act. Some specific benefits of integrated coastal management are discussed below. Clear Goals Wastewater management has two overall objectives: to restore and maintain the integrity of coastal ecosystems and to maintain important human uses of the coastal resource. The first step of the process is to transform these general objectives into specific goals that reflect the most important conflicts and values in the planning area. Since all problems will never be solved, priorities must be developed and accepted. The resulting ecosystem-specific goals constitute a clear and unambiguous statement of the purpose of wastewater management while providing a coherent set of criteria against which to measure progress. Improved Ability to Achieve Objectives Under integrated coastal management, all management actions would be devised in order to meet the stated goals. Put another way, regulation is water- and sediment-quality driven, not technology driven. It is also ecosystem-specific, not standardized across the country.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas Goals are translated into water, sediment, and environmental quality requirements, then management actions are designed to meet those requirements. This approach would make effective use of existing scientific knowledge and engineering skills while facilitating the incorporation of new knowledge as it becomes available. Moreover, actions that fail to perform could be quickly identified and corrected. Since planning and regulation would be carried out on an ecosystem-specific basis, the likelihood of meeting goals—and of avoiding damaging undercontrol as well as costly overcontrol—would be significantly better than under the existing policy. Cost-Effective Solutions Current regulatory practice provides only limited scope for minimizing the cost of compliance. In most important respects, cost-minimizing behavior is discouraged or prohibited. Dischargers are regulated individually, using the same standards, regardless of differences in abatement cost. Standardized end-of-pipe treatment is required regardless of opportunities for pollution reduction elsewhere in the system. Regulatory actions, even when they achieve wastewater management objectives, may often impose higher than necessary costs on government and industry. Excessive costs, in turn, slow environmental progress and divert funds from other important activities. Integrated coastal management, on the other hand, would imply considerable flexibility in the way in which management objectives are met. New and innovative solutions would be encouraged, as would alternative forms of familiar approaches. Cost-effectiveness would be an important consideration in selecting the final management approaches for preventing a pollutant from entering the waste stream. If economic incentives could be used to reallocate treatment requirements to achieve a lower cost while still meeting the management objectives, then that strategy would be preferable to uniform discharge standards. Improved Local Support and Commitment One of the most striking features of the integrated coastal management proposal presented here is its high degree of dependence on local initiative. The necessary planning and decision making can only be accomplished by local organizations in a local setting. Federal agencies lack the information and the authority to do this type of planning, or to make the required choices. Integrated coastal management can only happen where local and regional leaders make a conscious decision to seek more effective and efficient wastewater management. Integrated coastal management would shift the culture of water quality protection from federal mandate to local and state empowerment and responsibility.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas The advantage of encouraging local initiative is that it produces competent local and regional agencies fully committed to the effective management of wastewater. If the planning process has been properly conducted, businesses, community leaders, and many ordinary citizens will be aware of what is being done and why it is necessary and desirable to do it in this way. Even where the selected strategies are innovative or require some level of voluntary compliance or cooperation, widespread support can be expected. BARRIERS AND SOLUTIONS Barriers to an integrated management approach can be found everywhere. A persistent lack of open communication among federal agencies, states, local governments, and private stakeholders contributes to an air of distrust and limited cooperation. Leaving the inefficiencies of the status quo for the uncertainties and risks of a new approach may be difficult for all and nearly impossible for some. Suspicion regarding the motives of others may make the development of an integrated coastal management strategy difficult to accomplish. Consensus building, commitment, and sign-off may require finesse, time, patience, and risk. If a region is unwilling to approach integrated management with its collective eyes open to this reality, then successful adoption will be elusive. Integrated coastal management requires answers to a number of questions: What are the boundaries of an integrated coastal management region? What is the authority of the various agencies involved in the region? What are the objectives and approaches of an integrated management plan? Who will implement and pay for the management plan? Who will monitor progress toward achieving the objectives of the management plan? Who will enforce the commitments enumerated in the management plan? What contingencies will be provided for? In each application, the answers to these questions will determine both the benefits achieved from integrated management and the barriers to its implementation. Definition of the Coastal Management Region Definition of a coastal management region requires a compromise between contradictory criteria: the definition should be comprehensive, holis-
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas tic, and all-encompassing on the one hand, but also comprehensible, manageable, and focused on the other. Boundary lines implied by geographical, hydrological, and ecological factors may bear little resemblance to political jurisdictional limits. A river, for example, may serve as an excellent political boundary but make little sense as a dividing line between two coastal reaches that are ecologically interrelated. Adherence to a strict ecological definition of regions may place two political jurisdictions in the same management area, making the solution of their conflicting interests a continuing challenge. All authorities and all sources (including those now unregulated or underregulated) are subject to inclusion in a management plan. With all relevant entities identified and involved, those responsible for overseeing the management plan would have more complete information and opportunity for addressing the needs of the region. Monitoring and analytical resources could be broadly applied to a coastal region to identify and evaluate various sources of stressors. For this reason, it may be difficult to develop consensus on boundaries. The inclusiveness of the process will have tremendous implications for government jurisdictions and private stakeholders. Pressures to be included or excluded may be significant. Assignment of Authority Resistance to an integrated management approach may begin with the perception that it cannot possibly work. Previous regional water-quality planning failures, including some of those mandated under Section 208 of the 1972 act, may be pointed to as examples of how difficult it is to produce working regional consensus and action. Completed in the late 1970s, most Section 208 regional wastewater plans were not implemented. Inaction occurred for a number of reasons. First, the 208 program was conducted in parallel with a very aggressive POTW construction program, which meant that action often preceded planning. Thus, local government had little motivation to devote effort to 208 planning since resulting recommendations were likely to become moot. Second, no federal funding was provided to support the staff work needed to maintain and update the plans, and state and local agencies had no motivation to provide such funding. Third, some of the lead agencies responsible for creating and approving 208 plans were not vested with the authority to monitor or enforce the plans' provisions. Most such agencies (e.g., regional land-use planning agencies) had few or no environmental responsibilities beyond the completion of the 208 plan. In the absence of an authority to monitor and enforce the plans, they had no caretaker and agencies soon became irrelevant to ongoing planning, construction, and enforcement activities in the regions. As described earlier, integrated coastal management is a process in
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas which each step is dynamic and iterative. Implementation at the regional scale requires appropriate institutionalization. While centralized regional agencies appear, in concept, to be the ideal locations for integrated management, they may not be the best alternatives. In many areas, existing arrangements, intergovernmental relations, or other situations will preclude the establishment or the use of such an organization. It is important to recognize that many different multiple organizational and interorganizational forms can be effective. An institutional model that is successful in one region may not be appropriate for another. For integrated coastal management to work effectively, the implementing institution(s) must be vested with sufficient responsibility, resources, and authority to be a viable force within a region. One approach might be to start with consolidating various governmental expectations into a single voice by creating a commission, joint powers agreement, or other organizational vehicle that would serve as the focal point for developing and implementing regional policy. Such a regional authority, not necessarily residing in a single agency or even a single jurisdiction, could provide the opportunity to develop cooperation between relevant international, federal, state, and local agencies. Existing resources could be combined and leveraged to maximize efficiency. To be effective, the governmental authorities in the region would require sufficient scientific information to assess the condition of their coastal region; sufficient public input to assess the human and economic needs of the region; and sufficient empowerment to approve a plan, implement it, and then monitor and enforce it. Today's fragmented regulatory and jurisdictional setting makes planning and implementation difficult to achieve. Existing governmental mandates and charters may require modifications to allow for an integrated approach to coastal management. Some government entities that now have jurisdiction in a region may have to either divest themselves of some of their authority in favor of a regional body or participate as equal partners seeking consensus and moving forward with action based on the consensus. Sharing those environmental and public health mandates now held exclusively by state and federal agencies with regional and local government may be difficult to achieve. Congress and federal agencies will need to be convinced that state and local government can make appropriate decisions and implement needed changes. A regional approach could provide the responsiveness necessary to use the most effective approaches for achieving site-specific management objectives of a region. Goals and Approaches A well-selected list of management goals will be a key to success. However, achieving consensus on the measurable goals of an integrated
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas coastal plan may be difficult. Government agencies, environmental interest groups, industrial and agricultural trade associations, private stakeholders, taxpayer groups, and the general public will have conflicting objectives. Existing government jurisdictions and mandates may be in conflict with one another. Reconciling contradictory agency objectives is difficult. For this reason, consensus building is an important part of the selection of objectives. If the goals are not sufficiently comprehensive, then the solutions to environmental problems may not be adequate. On the other hand, there may be concern that a comprehensive approach will cause the process to become overextended and unfocused. If the scope is too large there is a danger of trivializing everything and accomplishing little. The approach to establishing objectives would begin with the assumption that scientifically-based assessments of environmental and public health status and trends would provide the best information for managing the coastal region and achieving long-term resource protection. Scientific research, environmental monitoring, and technical analysis are raised to a position of importance, and the prevailing conditions of the region can be assessed to provide the real problems and real priorities. Barriers may be encountered here, however. Existing environmental and public health information may be inadequate, poorly integrated, or irrelevant to the questions posed during the planning process. Assembling available data into a form that can be assimilated into the process and understood by the public and policy makers will be a challenge. Developing consensus on the meaning and relevance of available data may be difficult. In the absence of consensus, it is likely that some parties will object to the goals and approaches chosen. It is important, therefore, to provide an administrative appeal process, similar to those used by other local and regional programs of similar scope, such as land use planning. Those who still feel aggrieved would ultimately have access to the courts. If these problems can be addressed, risk assessment and risk management can be used to incorporate cross-media and cross-program environmental and public health considerations into a management plan. Comparisons of various management options and the associated risks can facilitate the identification of the best overall solutions. A balanced approach that would maximize the overall environmental and public health objectives while restraining infrastructure costs, environmental impact, and energy usage would be sought. Integrated coastal management planning could identify the most effective tactical and strategic tools to address the problems unique to a region. Best management practices for POTWs, combined sewer overflows, stormwater, and nonpoint sources could be incorporated into a management plan, and the opportunity to determine the affordability of potential management practices or engineering solutions could help establish the most practical approach.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas Most important, a broad scientific and technical understanding of the issues of concern could enhance the region's opportunity to identify nondeleterious multiple uses. Local responsiveness could open up the process to early innovation and proactive solutions. Finally, a regional plan could encourage more public awareness, involvement, and support. Popular support could be mustered to develop the political will to do the right thing. The public is the most important component in making the ideals of an integrated approach a reality. Plan Implementation The development of a viable integrated coastal management plan will take some time. This time will be perceived by some as a way to delay action, confuse objectives, and avoid responsibility. Timely implementation will be difficult to achieve if the scope or cost of an integrated plan is too large or is simply very comprehensive. Staging plans and related actions in incremental segments may be necessary to expedite implementation. An evolutionary approach that starts small and becomes large may be helpful. Setting priorities and staging early actions according to ease of implementation or urgency of need would be a logical approach. Implementation may be difficult to achieve if the interests of the stakeholders in the region are affected adversely. Providing incentives (or the opportunity to avoid disincentives) may be a strategic measure to aid implementation. It may be unrealistic to assume that costly management or structural changes required of a local government entity or a private stakeholder will be affordable. Funding alternatives that include tax incentives, government loans, low-interest bonding alternatives, and other forms of innovative financing may be a necessary element of a successful integrated management plan. Managing coastal zones to achieve environmental and public health objectives may require significant changes in the management of land use. However, local control issues and private land-use prerogatives may be in conflict with the objectives identified in a regional management plan. This will mean that divestiture of government control affects not only federal and state government but local government and private citizens as well. Without governmental commitment to striking new balances among competing and varied interests, the ability to implement a plan effectively will be limited. Monitoring Progress Monitoring of the performance of an implementation plan is an important ingredient in success. A reporting system that adequately informs gov-
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas ernmental entities and other stakeholders will be necessary to communicate the status and trends of the coastal zone. A baseline inventory of the conditions present in the region and a regularly scheduled status report could provide regulators with meaningful feedback on environmental and public health improvements. A system geared toward the display of environmental status information could replace today's dependence on benchmarks that use number of permits issued or number of enforcement actions as indices of progress. The original environmental quality objectives of the plan would be served best by demonstrating measurable and quantifiable results of the plan's implementation. To help in measuring results, existing monitoring and assessment activities could be regionalized to save on costs and to best utilize the scientific resources of the region. If existing monitoring and assessment activities are limited, then regionalizing resources can help in the start-up of this component of an integrated plan. Fulfilling Commitments Enforcement of the commitments made in an implementation plan is another important factor in guaranteeing continuing progress. Public disclosure, arbitration, fees, fines, or other sanctions may have to be incorporated into a plan as enforcement options. These features must be clearly understood by all stakeholders before the plan is first implemented. Committing to the plan, knowing that others are committed to the plan, and fearing penalties if one does not deliver on the plan will provide momentum and pressure to move forward. Contingencies Population growth, economic development, and economic restructuring within the coastal zone may erode the gains made by an integrated plan. Unforeseen pressures caused by changing land use, market forces, and factors outside the boundary or charter of the region may be significant barriers to the short-term or long-term success of an integrated management plan. Therefore, the flexibility to modify the plan to account for unanticipated factors may be helpful. Localized control and flexibility in the plan could promote more rapid and effective rehabilitation of damaged ecosystems and response to unforeseen problems. IMPLEMENTATION Clearly, an argument can be made for proceeding on a new course to achieve environmental and economic objectives in a more effective and
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas efficient way through the use of methods of integrated coastal management. The potential benefits are large. Unfortunately, the barriers may seem large as well. For those coastal regions that are compelled to make changes, the concept of integrated coastal management may be relatively attractive. Such regions are likely candidates for early application. For those regions with little reason for change, or those that have little institutional motivation to change, an integrated approach may not be feasible. Strongly motivated governments or other regional entities, willing to commit sufficient time and energy, are of paramount importance. An outside suggestion or mandate to move forward with an integrated plan may have little chance of success if local will is absent. For these reasons, integrated management can be expected to have varying levels of success or require varying periods of time for implementation. At least two models embodying some of the basic concepts of integrated coastal management are operating today. These are the programs for the Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes. Frameworks for limited forms of integrated management exist within the National Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), the National Estuaries Program, and other programs. These examples have had varying scopes and degrees of success and commitment from the various entities they encompass. Implementation of ICM in the context of the Clean Water Act would be a strategy allowing more effective and efficient achievement of the nation's clean water objectives. This should not be confused with the wider range of planning activities provided for under the CZMA, including the requirement that federal activities be consistent with state plans. Plans under the CZMA, for example, are more directed toward coordination of a broad range of land and water plans, while the Clean Water Act is more focused on water quality management per se. The fact is that few regions of the country have developed comprehensive, integrated, or coordinated management strategies. This prior experience illustrates both the potential for integrated wastewater management and the various barriers that may be encountered. It is not immediately clear how the promise of integrated coastal management can be achieved within the strictures of existing legislation, institutions, and expectations. In fact, universal implementation will require dramatic and courageous changes in all of these things. Such changes may begin immediately but still require a number of years to complete. There is, however, much that can be done now, and assuming a commitment to better wastewater management, more can be done at each step of the way. The following paragraphs discuss possible changes in federal legislation. Nothing in this section should be taken to imply an expanded federal role in ICM. In fact, the opposite is true. A successful application of ICM depends upon the initiative of local, regional, and state agencies, and on the willingness of the federal agencies to grant them the necessary autonomy
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas and freedom of action. How this can be done within the web of detailed environmental laws and regulations now administered by the federal government is a key question. Although there is the opportunity to undertake some aspects of ICM under various provisions of the existing Clean Water Act, some changes would be required to allow for implementation of the full range of alternatives that may be identified through the ICM process. Additionally, legislative changes could provide a framework in which regionally-based ICM initiatives could be fostered. The purpose of this section is merely to suggest some federal actions that can be taken immediately to provide latitude for local governments as they seek to achieve the benefits of a more integrated approach. This discussion is followed by brief description of some longer term strategies that could more fundamentally change the governance of the coast, substituting flexibility and local initiative for rigidity and detailed federal control. Immediate Actions The National Estuary Program The National Estuary Program, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to section 320 of the Clean Water Act, provides an excellent opportunity to practice integrated coastal management. Seventeen estuary programs have been approved and several more are in the designation process. Two features of the estuary program make it suitable for utilization of ICM. First, the program attempts to bring a wide range of interests to the decision-making process. Second, there is a requirement that a management strategy, known as the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP), be developed for each estuary. The process of developing the CCMP is an excellent opportunity to practice ICM. ICM can assure that the full range of public values and all relevant scientific information are used, and that planning is conducted on the basis of comparative risk assessment and management. Those estuary programs that have not yet developed CCMPs might be encouraged by the Environmental Protection Agency, through supplemental grants and technical assistance, to apply the concepts of ICM. At this juncture, maximum flexibility ought to be afforded each estuary program to expand planning beyond the existing framework, so as to achieve integration across jurisdictions, activities, stakeholders, and environmental media. ICM would take estuary programs several steps further by addressing tradeoffs between ecosystem protection and human uses and by formulating and comparing a range of management options designed to achieve the desired level of protection. This application will provide actual field testing of the ICM concepts,
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas which can form the basis for further refinements. Furthermore, rapid application of the principles of ICM to the development of the CCMP can help in bringing the estuary planning process to bear on real issues and choices, increasing the likelihood that effective actions follow studies. This application would do much to correct the principal shortcoming of the National Estuary Program, which is the absence of any real implementation. Public Involvement ICM is dependent on effective public involvement, both in early planning stages and throughout decision making and program implementation. Public values and expectations for the quality of the coastal environment can and should define the problems that must be solved and influence decisions on how resources should be allocated. Public involvement also builds and reinforces public interest, which is crucial to enhancing the political priority of coastal issues. Perhaps most important, developing a sense of individual responsibility for water quality, thus fostering behavior changes regarding the use and disposal of toxic products, transportation choices, and consumer purchases, can be the result of effective public involvement in coastal management. For example, a monitoring program in the Chesapeake Bay that uses citizens to help collect data has produced good quality data on which analyses of trends are based and has served to increase public awareness of the status of the bay and its resources. Effective public involvement is rare in complex governmental decision-making processes. Public opinion is devalued by technical experts, yet public support is essential in political decisions. Lengthy planning processes are not often exciting enough to garner attention in the important early phases or conducive to meaningful participation by lay people who work at other jobs during the day. Yet proposals put out for public comment in their advanced stages can be greeted with skepticism and resentment. Public-awareness-building and education about water quality and individual actions are rarely seen as a major responsibility of any government entity. Immediate actions to achieve effective public involvement would include 1) public funding for citizen organizations to participate in coastal planning and management processes, 2) significant agency budgets for outreach and public awareness-building, 3) environmental monitoring programs structured and funded with significant citizen volunteer and student/teacher components, 4) careful attention to expunging jargon and bureaucratic writing styles from all communications, and 5) clear lines of accountability established at the outset for carrying out decisions and implementing plans.
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas Science and Technical Information A common criticism of current wastewater management concerns the use and misuse of scientific information. In one sense, ICM can be thought of as a process that allows the rational display and discussion of scientific information prior to decision making. The purpose of this exercise is to identify, in a clear way, that which is important and about which something can be done. The methodology of ICM suggests a number of actions that need to be followed to accomplish this objective, such as comparative analysis, adequate peer review by scientists outside of government, environmental monitoring, appropriate research, and creating access to information. In a wide variety of ongoing coastal activities, the suggested improvements in the management of science can be implemented now. This would be an important step toward actually achieving a more integrated approach to coastal problems and toward assuring a wider base of public and political support for needed allocation of resources or other management responses. Institutional Arrangements An important feature of ICM is the identification of an official or agency that has the paramount responsibility for assuring wise management and protection of the coastal environment. While it might seem easiest to have this responsibility at the federal level, it is more important to fix responsibility at the state or regional level, where operational actions are much more concentrated (including those implementing federal programs). Without identifying a specific office or agency with this responsibility, there are several attributes that ideally ought to be associated with the assignment. These include the following: 1) operational responsibility for carrying out the ICM planning process, 2) oversight responsibility for assuring development and implementation of budgets that reflect management decisions, 3) responsibility for the design and general conduct of the monitoring program, and 4) responsibility as the focal point for public accountability. These recommendations should not necessarily be taken as a call for agency consolidation. A coalition, commission, joint powers agreement, or some other arrangement of responsible public agencies could serve as the vehicle for designing and implementing an ICM program. If implementation of ICM were to depend on major reorganization of government, it could be doomed to failure. Reorganization is difficult, but, more importantly, in the coastal environment it is simply unrealistic to imagine that all of the disparate government functions could, or even ought to, be brought under one gigantic roof. Instead, there are some actions that, if taken, could facilitate the likelihood that integrated planning is done and that integrated plans are implemented. These include interagency and interjurisdictional
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas agreements that allocate responsibility for specific activities; lead agency/ subordinate agency relationships for hierarchical division of activity; temporary transfer of key persons or units to responsible agencies for portions of the planning activity; and use of contractors for selected aspects of the task. Whatever solution is selected by a region, it should recognize the long-term, iterative nature of ICM, and take care to preserve access to the skills and experience needed to continually improve the plan. The Longer Term Federal Legislation A variety of federal statutes could be amended to provide greater opportunities to implement ICM and to provide incentives both for the process itself and to assure the implementation of its outcomes. Although the total number of legislative provisions that require change may be large, certain statutory provisions stand out for particular attention. • Section 320 of the Clean Water Act could be modified to establish a National Coastal Quality Program as a supplement to the estuary program and that would address coastal areas beyond those in the National Estuary Program. In addition to the expanded geographic coverage, the National Coastal Quality Program and National Estuary Program would have the following new program elements: 1) implementation of an integrated coastal management process, 2) creation of an ICM permit which would subsume all existing discharge National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits and/or apply to a class of activities not otherwise regulated by the Clean Water Act, 3) establishment of an iterative action plan as a substitute for the CCMP in which first steps are taken based on the current knowledge base, and 4) the opportunity for trade-offs where consequences are economically advantageous and environmentally equivalent or benign. The Committee did not explore whether the NPDES permit process should be extended to all ICM activities. Some Committee members believe that the federal government should only mandate the results in terms of environmental goals, and let the states manage the implementation of ICM in their regions. If there were an expanded ICM permit or other approval system, some Committee members fear that the imposition of federal rules and regulations leading to a final federal approval might stifle local initiative and innovation. This is considered a risk even in states that already have comprehensive programs for coastal water management (e.g., California's Ocean Plan). • Both the Clean Water Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act could be amended to build a more integrated planning and management
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas process between the two statutory systems. The basis for this evolution has been established with the 1990 amendments to the Coastal Zone Management Act which created a joint effort for nonpoint source controls. This cooperation could be expanded in the areas of monitoring, resource and land management, federal activities, and government organization (to statutorily authorize the ideas set forth in the previous section). Section 301(h) of the Clean Water Act providing for waivers from secondary treatment continues as an example of site-specific management practices bounded by overall federal objectives. Section 301(h) differs from ICM in important ways, however. It permits no tradeoffs: waiver grantees must demonstrate equivalent or better environmental conditions irrespective of cost differences or of the relative importance of the affected ecosystems. Also, Section 301(h) requires monitoring and analysis from waiver grantees that are not required from those localities that install secondary treatment. As a result, the waiver approval process is regarded by some Committee members as unwieldy and burdensome. Still, it should be noted that ICM uses science and environmental monitoring in a way that is similar to that developed by the Environmental Protection Agency in its numerous guidance documents for implementing the 301(h) waiver process. The difference is that ICM covers a much broader range of activities and a larger spatial scale. Moreover, full implementation of the science- and value-based approach suggested by an ICM approach might require levels of treatment lower (and higher) than those currently required. • In the event that the reauthorized Clean Water Act contains significant new funding authorizations to assist states and local communities meet with its provisions, such funding, especially in complex or high cost situations, should be tied to the conduct of an ICM process. If this linkage were made, one of the major reasons for the failure of the previous 208 program would be overcome. In addition, the linkage would ensure that federal funds were expended only after the necessary planning had been done to obtain the desired results. Alternative Modes of Regulation The accumulated mass of federal water quality legislation makes it clear that a command-and-control structure will remain a fundamental part of the nation's clean water programs for a long time to come. It is equally clear that the complexity of the goals that must be met in order to achieve and maintain healthy ecosystems suggests that measures beyond command-and-control regulation will be required. If all of the opportunities for addressing environmental problems that could be identified through integrated coastal management are to be pursued, it is especially important that flex-
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas ible, easily deployed tools are available to induce fundamental changes in complex human behavior. In particular, economic incentives may be used to minimize the cost of regulation or to reach activities or discharge levels not readily subjected to command-and-control instruments. Pollution prevention may be achieved through educational programs, economic incentives, or, in a few cases, by command and control. Growth management planning, implemented through economic incentives or zoning changes, can also be employed to modify the amount and location of wastes that must be managed. Pollution Prevention ICM is a system based on the rational application of resources to problems that have been deemed important by science and human values. It recognizes that knowledge will often be imperfect or incomplete and that resources are finite. Accordingly, some problems will not be identified, and on occasion resources will be unavailable for the control or management of some problems. In this context, it is important to recognize that ICM includes continuing efforts to reduce the quantity of potential pollutants at the source, especially for those materials for which understanding of the environmental and health effects is poor. Social Science Dimensions Successful application of ICM depends on a rich body of knowledge, a keen understanding of human expectations, and robust analytical capacity. Resources are growing rapidly in all of these areas; yet, some areas need greater attention. In particular, the capacity to use economic analysis in environmental management must be strengthened. The ability to predict the outcomes of complex social decisions also needs to be improved. Improved financial support for research in these areas could pay substantial dividends in the future. WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT FOR THE NEXT CENTURY This report proposes nothing less than a new paradigm for wastewater management in the United States, which must evolve from the existing structure of policy and practice. Existing policy focuses on setting national standards and writing individual permits for discharges. It is a top-down, command-and-control strategy that takes most aspects of wastewater generation and treatment as given and addresses any unique local ecosystem impacts only as second-order adjustments. Instead, the central task of wastewater management should be to assess
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Managing Wastewater in Coastal Urban Areas and compare risks and find the appropriate balance between restoring and protecting aquatic ecosystems and maintaining important human uses of the same environment. As argued in previous sections, this task demands integrated coastal management at the regional level. While general principles and constraints can and should be set at the national level, the planning and development of a management strategy must be conducted at the regional level. Management is, therefore, bottom-up rather than top-down. Furthermore, integrated coastal management encompasses a far greater range of possible actions and policies than contemplated under existing practices. Instead of simply applying a few technologies at known discharge points, integrated coastal management considers all possible interventions, from growth management to pollution prevention to end-of-pipe treatment to ocean discharge options. Choices are water-and sediment-quality driven, rather than technology-constrained. Compliance may be sought through command-and-control methods as well as through economic incentives, educational programs, land-use zoning, or any combination of these. Finally, management is not seen as a once-and-for-all activity, but as an ongoing process, constantly adjusting to changing conditions and achieving goals through a process of continuing iteration and improvement. REFERENCE LISS (Long Island Sound Study). 1990. Long Island Sound Study, Status Report and Interim Actions for Hypoxia Management. Boston, Massachusetts: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: