Editor's Log: No Cavalry In Sight

February 2013, Vol. 68 No. 2

Under the Obama Administration, the EPA has ramped up its enforcement of the Clean Water Act. Consent decrees are being executed at double the previous rate of past presidential administrations. Those cities unlucky enough to be prosecuted have been forced to discover creative ways of financing and are reluctantly learning how to better manage their limited funds.

With the transition to the second Obama term, like many appointed officials, current EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has resigned to springboard into other opportunities. At press time, her successor was yet to be named. Most likely, not much will change in the way of policy believes our Washington D.C. Editor Stephen Barlas (on page XX, he outlines some of the key impacts expected from Congress in 2013). Cities will still be aggressively investigated and prosecuted for Clean Water Act violations, perhaps at even a higher rate. EPA fracking research will continue, but probably without conclusions until the economy is back on track. Overall, not much variation from the past four years is anticipated.

A mythical sewer/water infrastructure bank is still being bandied about as a possible solution. The concept has potential but the devil is in the details. Until our dysfunctional President and Congress can finally agree that the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west, I have my doubts that such a program could be implemented. There would be, I fear, all sorts of strings attached and politically-correct, nonsense limitations and regulations imposed. Regardless of the odds, some sort of program will probably be introduced in this session of Congress.

The Muni Survey, as always, was full of insightful comments and interesting facts. The good news was that, despite their struggles, more cities than not believe they will be able to increase spending a modest amount in 2013. Unfortunately, those same city officials understand that a little is not enough. They want to serve their cities, keep them safe with healthy, efficient water, sewer and storm water systems.

However, to accomplish even status quo, massive infrastructure projects are needed. For now, it’s a horrific problem with no political or practical cavalry in sight to save the day.