Lean  Government
                              EPA Region 7 and 4 States
                      Water Quality Standards Review Process
                               Kaizen Event Case Study

In June 2007, participants from EPA headquarters, EPA Region 7, and the four States in EPA Region 7 (Iowa, Kansas,
Missouri, and Nebraska) conducted a Lean business process improvement event (kaizen event) on the EPA-State
process for developing and revising water quality standards (WQS). Water quality standards define allowable uses
for water bodies and identify specific water quality criteria to achieve those uses within state or tribal lands. The
water quality standards developed by a State must be approved by EPA prior to going into effect. EPA regional
offices, in this case Region 7, assist States and Tribes in the development of water quality standards programs that
meet the Clean Water Act's goals of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the
nation's waters.

The objective of the week-long event wasto improve communication and understanding among the States, EPA
Region 7, and EPA Headquarters on the process to develop and revise water quality standards. Prior to the event,
the water quality standards submittal, review, and approval process wastime-consuming, unpredictable, and
frustrating for all parties. The event resulted in a  redesigned process that was simpler, clearer, and more


  51 % reduction in number of steps in EPA's approval process (from 53 to 26), cutting the length of the
   process from a few years to several months.
  18% reduction of handoffs (from 17 to 14).
  100% reduction in the number of loop-backs in the process  (from 2 to 0).
  Increased collaboration between EPA and States to improve strategic planning.
  On-time completion and approval of Iowa Department of Natural Resources' chemical  criteria package.
  Clearer understanding among EPA headquarters, Region 7, and the States of each  other's processes.
  Identified strategic points early in the process where EPA involvement in state water quality standards
   rulemaking  processes is most effective.
Scope of the Lean Project

Project Scope: Region 7 EPA-State WQS submittal, review, and approval process

Goals of the Lean Event

  Establish and improve the partnership and trust between EPA and the Region 7 States.
  Determine when and how to communicate with stakeholders and the public to facilitate the process and under-
   stand the impact on the public.

   Clarify and improve the water quality standards process and everyone's roles for working together.
   Achieve 100% technically and legally defensible water quality standards approvals on time.
   Engage EPA early in the state water quality standards development process, prior to stakeholder involvement
    and the public review process.
   Enable States to address new EPA water quality standards recommendations within two triennial reviews.

Process Changes
During the event, participants designed a new process for submitting, reviewing, and approving water quality
standards. Key process changes included:
   Development of an understanding of each agency's processes and an appreciation for the motivation and
    restrictions of these processes.
   Identification of strategic points where EPA's involvement in the States' water quality standards rulemaking
    process is most critical and effective.
   Coordination of state and  EPA efforts as soon as a State starts to consider new water quality standards or
    changes to existing standards in order to streamline the submittal, review, and approval process.

Since the event, EPA Region 7 and States have implemented the following changes:
   State and EPA Region 7 staff members have been trained in the new process.
   The States and  Region 7 hold scoping meetingsto discuss water quality standards science and policy
   The process roles and expectations for States and EPA are clearer and the workload is spread out instead of
    concentrated at the end.
Pre-Kaizen Process Map

    The kaizen event process narrative, process map, and associated documents were posted on the EPA Region 7

    The States and Region 7 have worked together early in the WQS process to agree on deadlines.

    States provide early editions of water quality standards packages to EPA to ensure that the subsequent formal
     submissions will  be reviewed and approved in a timely manner and expectations for agencies are clear.
  Post-Kaizen Process Map
          For More
John Delashmit, EPA Region 7, (913) 551-7821, delashmit.john@epa.gov
Jamie Burnett, EPA NCEI, (202) 566-2305, burnett.jamie@epa.gov
United States
Environmental Protection
            Office of Policy,
            Economics and Innovation
    August 2009