Are Trump and Pruitt a Threat to the US Stormwater Industry?

If President Donald Trump implements environmental policy changes they could affect the regulations that drive the stormwater treatment industry in the US.

The US stormwater treatment industry was born out of the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972 and enforcement of the regulations carried out by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), cities and states are what currently drive compliance and in turn, the industry.

The Clean Water Act regulates pollution discharges such as chemicals, oils and heavy metals from point sources such as industrial facilities and also states that if a certain amount of earth[i] is disturbed during the development or redevelopment of land contained within an MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer), a stormwater treatment system must be installed to remove the sediment, trash and other debris from the site’s runoff before it discharges into any WOTUS (Waters of the United States).

The Regulations tab of Donald Trump’s campaign website outlines intended policy changes he would employ if he became POTUS (President of the United States). Number six on the list is to “Eliminate our most intrusive regulations, like the Waters of The U.S. Rule.” The section concludes with, “We will also scrap the EPA’s so-called Clean Power Plan which the government estimates will cost $7.2 billion a year.”

President Trump drew scrutiny when he appointed climate change sceptic and fossil fuel industry ally, Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA (Lipton, Eric 2014). Pruitt spent years fighting EPA regulators in support of the oil, gas and agriculture industries (all heavy polluters) while Attorney General of Oklahoma and in the process, sued the EPA 14 times. (Davenport, Coral & Lipton, Eric 2017)

Just exactly what aspects of the “Waters of the U.S. Rule” will be affected have not yet been identified but Trump stated this week, "We think we can cut regulations by 75 percent. Maybe more, but by 75 percent." He was referring broadly to the regulations affecting several government departments including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Food and Drug Administration but also, the Environmental Protection Agency (Arnold, Chris 2017).

Since the stormwater treatment industry depends so heavily on the enforcement of water treatment regulations, it’s unclear when, if or how a new EPA regime will affect the future of US water quality and the industry that supports it. 



[i] NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permits allow up to an acre of development before stormwater treatment is required but some cities and states set a lower limit of disturbed acreage. 
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