EPA Seeks Public Input on Clean Water Plan through Online Forum

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the first step in implementing Administrator Lisa Jackson's call for greater transparency and improved enforcement of EPA's clean water programs. To gather ideas for its nascent Clean Water Enforcement Action Plan, the agency is accepting comments from the public through a new online forum on EPA's blog.

On July 2, Administrator Jackson directed the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) to work with the agency's water office to gather ideas and develop an action plan for improving water quality. Jackson stressed that greater transparency must be a key part of the plan, and that the public must be tapped for ideas.

To guide the online discussion, EPA prepared several questions for the public and arranged them into two categories, "Providing Data for Public Use" and "Raising the Bar for Enforcement Program Performance." Under the first category, EPA presents four questions for consideration:

  • Is there additional compliance, enforcement or water quality information about facilities that discharge pollutants into our waterways that you would like to see on EPA’s Website?

  • Is there related data on other Web sites or systems that EPA should consider making accessible through EPA’s Website?

  • How can EPA make its public information easier to understand and use? 

  • Do you have suggestions for better integration of EPA’s compliance and enforcement information with water quality information?

These are excellent questions that hopefully will spark a constructive conversation about transparency and accountability at EPA. The second category asks for comments on measuring performance and the public's expectations.


To reach the blog's potential, EPA must actively promote this forum, especially to the stakeholders who have a history working on clean water issues. But the public must also hold up its end of the conversation and make its own worthy contribution.


The online forum will be moderated according the site's comment policy. This should help keep the postings both germane to the topic and inoffensive. 

The comment period is fairly brief, lasting from Aug. 5 to Aug. 28.


Regarding comments to the forum, OECA's head states, "Your ideas will be considered for recommendations to the EPA Administrator about the future direction for EPA’s water enforcement." I hope that is so. I also hope we in the public take advantage of this effort and provide them with the good ideas they need to consider.

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