United States
  Environmental Protection Agency
       May 1977
 The Public
. and
' Grants
 for Clean Water

Early  involvement by the
local  people—those  who are
most directly affected  by a
particular water pollution
control program—is  vital
if delays  and needless
controversies are to be
avoided. The U.S.
Environmental Protection
Agency  (EPA)  cannot
approve  Federal funds
for a  construction project
unless  the public has had
an adequate opportunity
to take part in planning
that project.

By law, public  participation
is required in:
• developing a State priority
list of wastewater treatment
• developing an areawidc
waste  treatment  management
• developing a  river  basin
waste  treatment  management
• obtaining a permit  for
discharging treated wastewater
into a stream, river, or lake; and
• preparing a wastewater
treatment facility plan.
The  purpose  of broad
public   participation  in
water  pollution  control is
to allow government to
be more responsive to public
concerns and priorities
and to  help people understand
government programs and actions.

This pamphlet  is intended
to help local government
officials  understand  and
meet  Federal  requirements
for public participation in  the
construction grant process.

A      major element  in the construction grant pro-
      gram is the need  for  local governments to,
      comply with the  public participation require-
ments in  Federal  law. This early local involvement
is vital to avoid delay  in the processing of a com-
munity's  application  for  a Federal grant to build
sewage treatment facilities, for EPA cannot approve
a grant unless the public has had an  adequate op-
portunity  to  take  part in  the  formulation  of the
proposed   project. Such  local  participation   also
helps  to  head  off needless  controversy  within  a
  Communities planning  to build sewage treatment
facilities must, of course, meet  the requirements of
their  own State and local laws.  Those  varying State
and  local  laws contain their  own  requirements for
public involvement—such as  public hearings, voter
approval  of a project or bond  issue  to finance it,
city  or  county council  approval, etc.
  But whatever  the  specific  requirements  of  your
own local and State laws, please note that Federal
law sets forth  specific requirements for public par-
ticipation  in the grant application process.

Why  Public

  Citizen   involvement—public   participation—in
government is the  stuff that makes our democratic
system  work.  Without public  support  and coopera-
tion,  government  programs  and  laws  cannot  be
effective. This is especially true  in pollution control,
which often requires changes in  attitudes and values
in order to break the pattern of business and pollu-
tion  as  usual.
  Congress recognized  this and in Section 101(e)
of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amend-
ments of  1972 (PL 92-500),  Congress  issued  a
mandate for  public  participation in  the national
water cleanup campaign. That section  states:
  "Public participation in the  development, revision,
and   enforcement  of  any   regulation,   standard,
effluent limitation, plan, or program established by
the  Administrator or any  State under this Act  shall
be provided  for,  encouraged, and assisted by  the
Administrator and the States.  The Administrator, in
cooperation with the States, shall develop and pub-
lish regulations specifying minimum  guidelines for

public participation in such processes." (Emphasis
  With those sixty-one words, Congress made public
participation an integral part of water pollution con-
trol—including  the construction grant program. As
required by the Act, EPA has issued  general guide-
lines for public participation.
  In  brief, those  general  guidelines set forth these
policies and objectives:
• "Participation of the public is to be provided for,
encouraged, and assisted to the fullest  extent prac-
ticable in water pollution  control activities."
• "The  major  objectives  of such  participation in-
clude greater responsiveness of governmental ac-
tions to public concerns and priorities, and improved
popular  understanding  of  official  programs   and
• "Although  the  primary responsibility for  water

quality  decision making  is vested by law in public
agencies at the various levels of government, active
public involvement in and scrutiny of the intergov-
ernmental  decision-making process  is  desirable to
accomplish those objectives."
•  "Conferring with the public after a final  decision
has been made will not meet the requirements."
•  "The intent of these regulations  is to foster  a
spirit of openness and  a sense  of mutual trust be-
tween  the  public"  and  government  "in  efforts to
restore  and maintain the integrity of the Nation's
   Those general guidelines for public participation
apply to all levels of government—local and  State
agencies, and EPA itself—involved in implementing
the 1972 law.
   In  addition to the general guidelines, EPA has
also issued  specific  public   participation  require-
ments for various programs established by the  1972

  Here's  how  the  requirements  apply to the con-
struction grant  program.
  If your community plans to apply for a Federal
grant to build  a sewage treatment project, it  will
be directly affected  by  several specific public par-
ticipation regulations issued by EPA. For example:
• In order to  be considered for a Federal  grant,
your  community's  proposed  project  must  be  on
your  State's  "priority list"  of projects eligible for
grants. Before  your  State approves the priority list
and  submits it to  EPA, your  State  must hold  a
public hearing  on the proposed  list. Thus the need
for your community's proposed project will be sub-
ject  to public   review  and  comment  when  your
State holds  its  required  public  hearing  on  the
priority  list. Without  that  public hearing,  EPA
cannot approve the  priority list.
• Your proposed project must conform with a waste
treatment management  plan developed  by an area-
wide planning agency and approved by EPA  under
Section 208  of the  Act. Even if an areawide plan
has not yet been developed,  your proposed project

must be submitted to the areawide planning agency
for comment.  Public participation is required in the
areawide planning program.
•  Your proposed project must  also be in  confor-
mity with  any  river basin  plan developed under
Section 303(e) of the Act.  Public  participation  is
required in the basin-wide planning  program too.
•  Public  participation  is required in  the  permit
program under which your community  will be al-
lowed to discharge treated wastewater into a stream,
river, or lake.
•  And of most immediate concern to a community
applying for a Federal  construction  grant, public
participation is required as your community evalu-
ates alternatives  and chooses  a specific  plan to
remedy its municipal wastewater pollution problem.
   This  is the heart of public participation in the
construction grant program. It is  here, in the prepa-
ration  of the  facility plan, that  your  local  govern-
ment must  seek to involve the public directly at the
earliest possible moment.
   Specific public participation requirements in the
facility planning process are spelled out in the final
construction grant regulations issued by EPA.
   In brief, those  regulations say  that:
•  Your local government must  carry out a public
participation program in  the facility planning proc-
ess that is consistent with the general  guidelines for
public  participation published in  the Federal Regis-
ter August  23, 1973.
•  You should hold one  or more public  hearings or
meetings to obtain public  advice at the beginning
of the  planning process.
•  You mast  invite  all  government  agencies  and
others  known to be concerned about or interested
in the plan  to participate.
•  You must hold a public hearing  before adopting
a facility plan.
•You must give at least 30 days' notice in advance
of the  public hearing.
•  You must make available to the  public informa-
tion on the water pollution problem and  the alter-
natives considered in the planning process.
•  You should send written notice  of public hear-

ings  to  appropriate  local and State agencies,  to
State and local clearinghouses, to appropriate local
officials,  and to interested individuals and groups.
• And you must, when submitting your proposed
facility plan  to EPA for approval, summarize  the
steps you have taken  to encourage  public participa-
tion, provide  documentation  that you published  a
notice of the  public hearing in a local  newspaper,
and  briefly describe  the  views  expressed  at  the
public  hearing,  or  in  writing,  on  the proposed
  Those  are  minimum public participation  require-
ments. EPA  encourages  all  local  governments  to
go beyond those  minimums,  however,  to  foster  a
spirit of  mutual trust and  cooperation between the
public  and government  agencies  responsible  for
controlling water  pollution.
  No matter  how you choose to  meet the public
participation requirements, it is important  to keep
in mind  the intent of public participation as well
as the specific mandatory steps that must be taken.
  The fundamental objective  should be  public con-
tributions and involvement before a decision is made
on what  sort of treatment plant will be built, where
it will be located, where the interceptor  and outfall
sewer lines will be located,  etc.  Early  public par-
ticipation is  essential to  public understanding, ac-
ceptance, and  support  of the project.  To achieve
that  objective, your  local government  should  ap-
proach public participation in good faith and with
a positive attitude.
  To begin with,  a sewage treatment project should
not  be  developed in  a vacuum.  Project planners
should be familiar  with the  community's  overall
goals and aspirations.  That  means  being  familiar
with the  community's growth plans,  its park and
recreation plans,  its  housing,  population, economic
development,  highway   projections,  and  environ-
mentally  sensitive areas. In theory, if not always in
practice,   a community's  comprehensive  plan  re-
flects a  consensus of  public  values  and  aspirations
and  evolves from  a  public participation process of
its own.  At the outset, therefore,  planners of waste-
water treatment projects must  be thoroughly familiar
with their community's  comprehensive plan and  its
land-use  and  zoning  controls. Your sewage treat-
ment project  must be  planned within the context
of your community's  overall  long-range  goals.

   At the same time, you should also identify and
try to  involve  groups  and  individuals concerned
about water pollution and other environmental prob-
lems  in  your community, as well as civic groups,
neighborhood associations,  and others who will  be
most  affected by the project.
   This  will give you a head start in meeting  the
public participation  requirements. It will  also  be
invaluable in  helping you assess the environmental
impact of the  proposed action and alternatives as  an
integral part of your facility  plan.
   You  should  thus seek help  and  counsel from
environmental organizations,  historical and cultural
groups, outdoor groups, and others,  on the current
condition of the environment. Those groups, as well
as appropriate  local, State,  and Federal  agencies
and colleges and universities in the  area,  can help
answer  a variety of questions:
   Are  there  any unique or vulnerable ecological
systems in the area? What about significant archeo-
logical  and historical  sites? Parks,  wetlands, and
scientifically  important  areas? Flood plains where
development  may  not  be  acceptable?  Esthetically
sensitive areas? Socially sensitive  areas?  Potential
   By seeking that  kind of information early in  the
planning  process,  you  will  not  only  be  opening
planning  to   responsible public participation, but
you  will also be identifying community goals,  en-
vironmental  constraints, and public values. You
will be getting information you will need to measure
the environmental   effects of alternative plans,  to
identify any unavoidable adverse environmental and
social  impacts,  and to determine public  attitudes
toward  various alternatives.
   This  process will also serve as an  early warning
system.  It will bring out potentially controversial
issues  that  you might  otherwise not be aware  of
until after the planning is completed. Early involve-
ment  of the public may thus spare both the public
and local government officials needless controversy.
   In  short, citizen involvement can  and should  be
part of  the basic data gathering that must be under-
taken before  you can  prepare  a facility plan and
the required assessment of the plan's impact on the
   The  greater  the  public participation  before  the
required public hearing on  alternative  plans,  the

greater  the  likelihood that  the  alternatives will be
realistic;  that  each  alternative will be  properly
weighed  against  community  goals  and  environ-
mental constraints; that the  anticipated benefits and
costs  and environmental and social effects of each
alternative will  be properly  spelled  out;  that the
concerned public will know the trade-offs  involved;
and that a proper  decision  will be made  and sup-
ported by the public.

How  Do
You  Do It?
   Let's assume now  that your  community is ready
to proceed.  You've identified your municipal  waste-
water pollution problem. You've gotten your com-
munity  on  your State's priority list, thus making
you  eligible to  apply  for  a  construction  grant.
You've  retained a  qualified consulting firm to  help
plan the project. You and your consultant have held
an informal  pre-application conference with  State
and EPA representatives.
   How do you go about getting the public  involved?
   There are many ways of  involving the  public in
the business  of government, which is, after all, the
public's business.  If you are  an elected  public offi-
cial, you undoubtedly are familiar with a variety of
techniques to reach the public. And you  may well
have  approaches not covered here.
   But as a checklist if nothing else, here  are some
of the  ways communities  across  the Nation have
involved the public in the construction grant process.
Note  that the public participation steps required by
Federal laws are included in the checklist.  Note too
that some of the techniques that follow—except the
required steps, of  course—may not  be applicable
in your community.
   Whatever techniques you use, level with the pub-
lic. Explain the need for the new treatment facilities.
   At  any rate, here's  what the Mayor, the County
Executive, or the head  of your community's sewage
treatment agency  can  do  to encourage and   assist
public participation in the grant process:
•  Identify concerned organizations and individuals.
•  Appoint  a representative citizen  advisory  com-
mittee to advise you throughout the planning and
construction of the project.
•  Plan  to hold an informal  public meeting at  which
you  will  outline the  water pollution problems of

the community, discuss the planning process, and
invite public suggestions.
•  Send a  press release to your  local newspapers,
television  and  radio  stations—and  to   interested
groups  and individuals—in  advance  of  the  public
•  Hold  the  public  meeting.  Make  note  of  the
names and addresses  of  all who attend. Make  a
summary of the meeting.
•  As planning  progresses, send follow-up releases
and  other  educational  material  to  the  press,  to
concerned  groups  and individuals,  and to  those
who attended  the public meeting.
•  Seek invitations  to  speak at meetings  of  various
civic organizations.
•  Prepare a film or slide show on  your community's
water quality  problems and  possible  solutions.
•  Prepare exhibits  and display them  at city hall, in
public libraries, and in other public buildings.
•  Invite recommendations from  concerned  groups,
individuals, and the public at large.
•  Send out mail questionnaires  to determine citi-
zen attitudes  on the  water  pollution  cleanup  pro-
•  Hold periodic meetings with  your citizen advisory
committee  to keep  members up-to-date on progress
and problems.
•  Give careful  consideration to  public suggestions
and comments.
•  Schedule the public  hearing on alternatives pre-
sented in  the facility  plan. Check  to  avoid conflicts
with  other  events  in  your  community  that might
attract your potential audience.
•  Send out public  notice of the hearing  at least 30
days in advance of  the hearings. (This is required.)
Send  the hearing notice to all concerned groups and
individuals  you've  identified earlier.  (This  too is
required.)  Send the notice to the press. Place  an ad
or legal  notice  in  the  local newspaper  announcing
the hearing date, time,  and place.
•  Make information  on the alternatives available
to the public  in advance of the  hearing. (This is
required.  You must  make  the information  avail-
able at least 15 days  before  the hearing;  if possible,
try to make it available at least 30 days in advance.)
At a  minimum, the  hearing  notice  must  tell the

public where copies of the material to be  discusst
at the  hearing  may be  examined  in  advance.  If
possible, make extra copies and send them to con-
cerned  groups  and  individuals  well  in advance  of
the hearing.
•  Hold the hearing. (More on this  later.)
•  After the public  hearing—and before you select
the alternative to be  recommended  in  the  facility
plan—carefully study suggestions made by the pub-
lic at the hearing and in written comments. Keep
in mind that public  acceptability is vital. That does
not mean that total  consensus  is necessary. It does
mean that the plan  finally chosen should be  gener-
ally  acceptable  to   the public,  especially  to those
segments of the  public that will be most affected by
the project. If any  aspects of the project  are espe-
cially  controversial,  discuss them  with  your  ad-
visory committee and with the  groups  or individ-
uals  most  concerned.  (As Abraham Lincoln once
said,  "public  opinion  is  everything. With  public
sentiment nothing can fail; without it,  nothing can
succeed.") Then make your decision.
•  Make a transcript of the public hearing.  (This  is
required; you must make  the document available  to
the public for review, and if anyone wants a copy,
you must make  it available at cost.  It need not be
a  literal "court  reporter" type but  it must  be an
accurate summary of proceedings.)
•  Finally—and  this too is required—a summary  of
all public participation steps  taken throughout the
process must be submitted with the facility plan  to
the State and to EPA.
   By approaching public  participation in a positive
manner, that  will pose  no problem, for  you  will
have built an enviable record of public involvement.
And while early and continuing public involvement
will not guarantee that the plan selected will not be
controversial,  it  will  dramatically  increase  the
chances  that  the plan  finally  selected  will  have
widespread public support.
   It is  especially important during the whole proc-
ess that you explain the benefits, the total  and local
costs, and the environmental impacts of all alterna-
tives.  Seek suggestions from  the public  on how  to
minimize  or avoid  adverse  impacts and  how  to
accommodate  group and  community goals while  at
the same  time achieving the  necessary water  pollu-
tion cleanup.

  Throughout this procedure, give the public access
to all available information.  The  better the public
is informed,  the  more  responsible it will be.  And
in public presentations and written materials,  avoid
technical  language  and  jargon wherever possible.
So  be  sure  to translate  the  complex and technical
language  of  the  sewage  treatment  industry  into
language that can be understood  by  intelligent but
non-technically trained  adults.

Public  Meetings
and Hearings
   Local and State  laws may require a set format
for a local  government's formal public hearing  on
a facility  plan. If so, the Federal requirement that
a public hearing  be held before a plan is selected
can probably be satisfied  by the hearing  required
under  State  or local law,  providing  other Federal
requirements arc  met too.
  Federal laws and regulations do not set  hard and
fast rules for the conduct of the required public
hearing, however. As far as  EPA is concerned, the
required public  hearing—and any informal public
meetings held earlier—should be informational and
educational. Rules and procedures are necessary, of
course,  to keep  order and to expedite  the hearing.
But the hearing  should  be as informal as possible
to  encourage attendance and participation.
   Interested persons  may well come  to the hearing
with a  prepared  statement.  But written  statements
should  not be required.  Nor should advance notice
be  required  as a condition  for attendance or par-
ticipation.  (There's  no  harm  in  requesting notice
of  intention to speak at the  hearing, however; that
will give  you an indication  of how  much time to
allow for the hearing.)
   Presentations,  speeches,  and  remarks  by  local
government officials should  be  complete—but they
should  also  be as brief as possible to  allow as much
time  as  necessary for  comments,  questions,  and
suggestions  from  the  public.  The  hearing should be
approached  and  conducted  as an opportunity for
the public and the local government to learn  from
each  other.  Try to  respond  to  all  questions. If
you don't have  the  answer  at hand, tell  the ques-
tioner   you  will  get  the information  and send  it
along as soon as  possible.

   If  possible,  the hearing should  be held in the
evening or on a weekend to give the  greatest num-
ber of people an opportunity to attend. Registration
fees or other charges must not be levied  as a con-
dition for attending and participating.  Whenever
possible, the hearing should be held  in  a location
accessible by public transportation.
   If  the project  covers  a large and heavily popu-
lated area,  the local  government should  consider
holding more  than one  hearing in different  loca-
tions within  the project  area.
   The  local government should be well prepared
for the public hearings. Make plans in advance.
Prepare an agenda. Decide who will chair the hear-
ing, who will present the alternative plans, who will
operate the  slide  projector  (if  you're using one),
who  will prepare and  set  up  exhibits,  who  will
record and stenotype. the proceedings, etc. Detailed
advance planning  is essential for a successful public
   Finally, don't  be disappointed  if  only a  few
people turn  out for the  hearing. In the absence  of
controversy,  many public  hearings  on  proposed
facility  plans are  attended by only a  few  dedicated
souls. Moreover,  a thorough public education and
information  program  may  satisfy  many  members
of the public in advance and make them decide not
to attend the hearing.
   The  important point  is not how  many bodies
show up but you  well you have given the  public  an
opportunity to  get involved from the very beginning.

A Final Note

   Local governments  must meet other public par-
ticipation  requirements  during  the  construction
grant process.
   EPA regulations  concerning  the  procurement  by
local governments of professional services under a
construction  grant  require  communities  with   a
population  of  more than  25,000  to give  public
notice before retaining  outside consulting  services
from architects  and  engineers.  These regulations
also require  formal advertising  for bids on the con-
struction  of  the project and public opening of  the
   In addition, if  a project involves the acquisition
of land and  the relocation of people,  the local gov-

ernment must  provide "an opportunity  for presen-
tation  of information and discussion  of relocation
services  and payments at public hearings, prepare
a relocation brochure, and  give  full and adequate
public notice of the  relocation  program for each
project."  And in  areas  where  "a  language other
than  English  is predominant,  public   information
shall  be published  in the predominant language  as
well as  in  English."
  Before issuing a construction  grant for a project,
EPA  requires  an  environmental assessment  as  an
integral  part of the facility plan.  EPA then reviews
the facility plan to determine  whether significant
adverse  environmental impacts or other factors  re-
quire   preparation   of an  Environmental  Impact
Statement. When EPA prepares  an  EIS, it is made
available to the public for review  and  comments.
The Agency may also hold a public hearing in the
community on the impact statement.
              Using Land  Disposal?

     If your community's proposed treatment project
   involves land application of  treated wastewater,
   you should get a copy of EPA's Technical Bulletin
   430/9-75-001. issued in  1975. on "Evaluation of
   Land Application  Systems." That bulletin says:
     "To  ensure that the best system is selected by
   the  decision-makers, all aspects of the alternatives
   should  be made  available  for  public review and
   evaluation, including the engineer's recommenda-
   tion. Re-evaluation and modification of the  plans
   may be necessary  before a system is selected and
   general acceptance is received."
     The  bulletin also says:  "The establishment of
   an extensive  public information  program at the
   earliest  possible  time is wise, especially  when
   alternatives under  consideration  may be contro-
   versial. Public involvement to the maximum pos-
   sible extent should be sought, with feedback to
   planners  and decisionmakers.  In  many  cases,
   public  opposition  to proposed land-applications
   systems can  be  related  to  lack of knowledge or
   understanding of the fundamentals involved.  Con-
   sequently, a well-planned information and educa-
   tion program is  highly  desirable,  and  in  many
   cases,  required."
     A copy of Technical  Bulletin 430/9-75-001  is
   available from your EPA Regional Office.

   But over and above  the  minimum legal  require-
ments for public participation imposed on local
governments, States, and EPA  itself, remember that
public participation and water  pollution  control are
continuing processes. To make government respon-
sive  to public  concerns and priorities, and to  im-
prove public understanding and support of  govern-
ment  programs  and  actions  to  combat  water
pollution, public  participation should be viewed as
a continuing, positive process.
   Merely paying lip  service to public participation
is  not enough.  That  would be contrary to the intent
of Congress,  And  it would be self-defeating,  for
EPA may reject a  grant  application if the steps
taken  by  a  local  government to  encourage  and
assist  public  participation  have  been inadequate.
Or EPA may require the local government to hold
additional  public  hearings  if  concerned   inteiests
have  not been given adequate opportunity  to pre-
sent  their views.
   Inadequate public participation can  only delay
attainment of  the  national  goal  of restoring  and
maintaining  the  integrity  of the  Nation's   waters.
And  it can only  further diminish  the public's esti-
mate of government  credibility.
Note: The full text of general regulations concern-
ing public participation  in  water pollution control
was  published  in the Federal Register August  23,
1973.  Also, final  construction  grant  regulations,
published in the Register  February  11,  1974,  in-
cluded requirements on  public  participation  (Sec-
tion  35.917-5). Both  these documents  are  avail-
able  free  upon  request  from EPA's ten  Regional
Offices and also from  EPA's  Public  Information
Center (PM-215), Washington,  D.C.  20460.
  Following are the addresses and telephone  num-
bers  of  the Agency's  Regional  Offices  and  the
States included in each Region.

United Stales
Environmental Protection
Office ol

Public Affairs (A 107)

Washington DC  20460
Official Business
Penalty for Private Use
                                           Postage and Fees Paid
                                           Protection Agency

                                           EPA 335
                                           Thirc Class Bulk

     EPA Region 1
     Room 2303
     JFK Federal Building
     Boston, MA 02203

     EPA Region 2
     Room 1005
     26 Federal Plaza
     New York, NY 10007

     EPA Region 3
     Curtis Building
     6th and Walnut Streets
     Philadelphia,  PA 19106

     EPA Region 4
     345 Courtland St., NE
     Atlanta, GA 30308
     EPA Region 5
     230 South Dearborn Street
     Chicago, IL 60604

     EPA Region 6
     1201 Elm St.
     Dallas, TX 75270

     EPA Region 7
     1735 Baltimore Street
     Kansas City, MO 64108

     EPA Region 8
     Suite 900
     1860 Lincoln Street
     Denver, CO 80203

     EPA Region 9
     100  California Street
     San  Francisco, CA 94111

     EPA Region 10
     1200 Sixth Avenue
     Seattle, WA 98101
           States Covered

           Connecticut, Maine,
           Massachusetts, New
           Hampshire, Rhode Island,

           New Jersey, New York, Puerto
           Rico, Virgin Islands
           Delaware, Maryland,
           Pennsylvania, Virginia, West
           Virginia, District of Columbia
           Alabama, Georgia, Florida,
           Mississippi, North Carolina,
           South Carolina, Tennessee,

           Illinois, Indiana, Ohio,
           Michigan,  Wisconsin,

           Arkansas,  Louisiana,
           Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico
           Iowa,  Kansas, Missouri,
           Colorado, Utah, Wyoming,
           Montana, North Dakota, South
           Arizona, California, Nevada,
           Alaska,  Idaho, Oregon,