LGEAN Podcasts

From Trash to Triumph: The Mount Growmore Initiative

In this week's episode, host Georgia Ray dives deep into an incredible transformation journey with her guests Debbie Sims, Suzi Ruhl, David Cash, and Bill Coleman. Together, they discuss the evolution of Bridgeport, Connecticut's once-neglected Mount Trashmore into the thriving Mount Growmore agricultural, wellness, and learning campus. Tune in to explore the significance of community-driven solutions, the power of inter-sectoral government collaboration, the importance of trusted relationships with academia, and the essential steps that other communities can take to replicate such transformative projects. This episode, produced in partnership with ELI's People Places Planet Podcast, promises a compelling narrative of turning environmental challenges into community triumphs.

Host: Georgia Ray, Environmental Law Institute
Guests: Debbie Sims, Community Leader, Suzi Ruhl, Director of Policy at Elevate Policy Lab at Yale Child Study Center, David Cash, Regional Administrator at EPA Region 1, and Bill Coleman, Deputy Director of Planning & Economic Development for Bridgeport

Sensing a Change in the Air: How Local Governments Can Respond and Adapt to Shifts in Air Quality Monitoring Technology

Recent wildfire smoke events have highlighted the value of air quality measurement. But how does it really work, anyways? From the latest technologies and regulations to the unique challenges faced by local governments and Tribes, this week's guests discuss the transforming landscape of air quality monitoring. Join hosts Georgia Ray and Ella Stack and guests Chet Wayland from the EPA, Christopher Lee from Tribal Air Monitoring Support Center, and Miles Keogh from the National Association of Clean Air Agencies for the discussion. This episode was completed in partnership with ELI's People Places Planet Podcast

In This Episode We Cover:

·      How the onset of new monitoring and data technologies is shifting the air monitoring paradigm

·      What the surge in air quality participatory science means for rulemaking

·      Why local governments and Tribes are so well situated to address air pollution


Hosts: Georgia Ray and Ella Stack, Environmental Law Institute

Guests: Chet Wayland, EPA, Christopher Lee, Tribal Air Monitoring Support Center, and Miles Keogh, National Association of Clean Air Agencies 

Building the Water Workforce: Recruiting and Retaining the Next Generation of Utility Workers

The water sector has untapped potential for Americans looking for a fulfilling career working with ever-advancing technologies and serving the public. Building this pipeline is increasingly critical as long-time workers retire and others leave the industry, with repercussions for communities across the nation—particularly in our smaller towns and rural areas. How can drinking water utilities and local governments attract and train a diverse, skilled workforce and adapt to retain these new employees over the long term? Join ELI’s Cynthia R. Harris and Ella Stack in a conversation with Shannon Walton (National Rural Water Association), Connie Stevens (Alliance of Indiana Rural Water) and Sophia Overton (Del Mar Water Treatment Department) for a look at how the industry is changing, the invaluable role of apprenticeships to the sector’s future, and how water utilities can help build the next generation of utility workers.

Hosts: Cynthia R. Harris & Ella Stack, Environmental Law Institute

Guests: Shannon Walton, National Indiana Rural Water, Connie Stevens, Alliance of Indiana Rural Water & Sophia Oberton, Del Mar Water Treatment Department

In This Episode We Cover:

  • Who the “water workforce” includes and what these roles entail in an evolving field
  • The certification, licensing, and training processes required to become a water or wastewater operator
  • How the water sector is responding to and maximizing technological advancements
  • Steps utilities can take to recognize the value of a diverse workforce and improve representation in the field
  • Advice for improving succession planning and retention
  • How utility companies can take advantage of and start their own apprenticeship programs

Additional Resources:

Climate and the Community: Centering Equity in Vulnerability Assessments

The LA County Chief Sustainability Office set out in 2020 to accomplish a monumental task: assess the risks and challenges that a changing climate will bring to over 10 million people and physical infrastructure spanning 182 square miles—while incorporating the needs and priorities of the County’s most vulnerable populations. The result of this collaboration with Climate Resolve is the County of Los Angeles Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA), an impressive document that centers equity and represents extensive community outreach. ELI’s own Cynthia R. Harris sits down with LA County’s Sustainability Program Director Kristen Torres Pawling and Climate Resolve’s Director of Climate Planning and Resilience Natalie Hernandez to walk through LA County’s experience and learn how every municipality, large or small, can learn from LA County’s experience in carrying out their own equity-centered CVA and prepare to meet their community’s needs in a changing climate.

In This Episode We Cover

  • What a Climate Vulnerability Assessment is and why every local government should adopt a CVA
  • Most important components of a strong CVA: physical assessment, social assessment, and cascading impacts
  • Identifying your most vulnerable communities and questioning your assumptions about them
  • Centering equity and effective outreach to your most vulnerable community members
  • Leveraging your CVA to bring in grants and loans to fund critical infrastructure
  • Building strong community partnerships to carry out your CVA and implement your Climate Adaptation Plan
  • And so much more!

Meeting Stormwater Compliance Objectives with Green Infrastructure

Local communities are increasingly turning towards green infrastructure as a cost-effective and successful solution to address the growing challenges presented by stormwater management. Green infrastructure represents a shift away from aging, gray infrastructure (pipes, gutters, and tunnels) and towards systems that mimic nature to sustainably filter stormwater and improve water quality. Localities that have implemented green infrastructure are reaping numerous benefits, such as reduced localized flooding, water quality improvements, climate resiliency, and enhanced community quality of life. It's no surprise the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) champions green infrastructure for local jurisdictions to meet Clean Water Act requirements. Join ELI’s Linda Breggin and Shehla Chowdhury in conversation with Jacob Lunn (EPA Water Enforcement Division), Dennis Sayre (environmental engineer at EPA Region 4), and David Johnson (Louisville Metropolitan Sewer District) to learn from these experts how frontline localities successfully implement green infrastructure to generate resilient communities.

Hosts: Linda Breggin & Shehla Chowdhury, Environmental Law Institute

Guests: Jacob Lunn, EPA, Dennis Sayre, EPA Region 4 & David Johnson, Metropolitan Sewer District of Louisville and Jefferson County

Additional Resources: 

General GI Resources  

EPA Municipal Ombudsman  

EPA Permitting and Enforcement Series with case studies and example language 

EPA Green Infrastructure Modeling Toolkit

Transcript available on https://lgean.net/podcasts.php 

Compliance Assistance on the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP)

Lead-based paint is still present in many houses, apartments, and public buildings, making it a critical issue of health and safety for communities. Lead poisoning can cause permanent damage to a person’s brain, nervous system, and other organs, and is especially hazardous to children and pregnant women. Though the federal government banned lead-based paint in 1978, it is still commonly found in older buildings. The U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) has adopted the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) to help prevent further exposures. Join EPA Scientist Carol Baillie, and Mike Wilson, Project Manager for EPA's National Programs Chemical Division, in this episode of Today’s Local Environment—the Compliance Podcast to learn more about how local governments can promote compliance with the RRP rule and protect their residents.


Carol Baillie, Physical Scientist, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, U.S. EPA


Mike Wilson, Project Manager, National Program Chemicals Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, U.S. EPA

A transcript of this episode is available at https://lgean.net/podcasts.php

Additional Resources:

Taking on Trash: The National Recycling Strategy

The United States produces nearly 300 million tons of municipal solid waste each year, about a third of which is recycled or composted. As foreign markets begin to crack down on the importation of solid wastes for recycling abroad, it is vital that the U.S. advance and improve its current waste management practices. To achieve the National Recycling Goal of 50% by 2030, the EPA consulted with stakeholders and developed  the National Recycling Strategy, released this past November. Join ELI’s Jim McElfish as he speaks with David Biderman, Executive Director and CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), to learn how local governments can engage with this strategy – from accessing funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to upgrade facilities, to improving communication with customers to enhance worker safety and prevent contamination.


David Biderman, Executive Director and CEO, Solid Waste Association of North America

Additional Resources:

EPA, States and Permittees Take on Significant Non-Compliance

Sixty percent of facilities in significant non-compliance (SNC) with their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits are small municipal wastewater treatment plants. The Clean Water Act’s permit program regulates point sources of water pollution, such as discharges from publicly owned municipal wastewater treatment plants. Why is this? And what can we do about it? Join ELI’s Shehla and Cynthia for a conversation with Dan Palmer, Deputy Division Director of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, all about NPDES permits, EPA’s new National Compliance Initiative for Reducing SNC with NPDES Permits, and actions local governments -- especially those operating small systems -- can take to tackle their compliance challenges.


Dan Palmer, Deputy Division Director of Planning, Measures, and Oversight Division, EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

A transcript of this episode is available at https://lgean.net/podcasts.php

Additional Resources:

Overview of Clean Water Act (CWA)

NPDES Permit Basics

Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO)

National Rural Water Association (NRWA)

Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP)


Technical Assistance Webinar Series: Improving CWA-NPDES Permit Compliance

EPA Water Finance Clearinghouse

EPA Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center

Environmental Finance Center Network

Compliance Tips for Small, Mechanical Wastewater Treatment Plants 

Report Environmental Violations with ECHO

Report an Environmental Emergency with the National Response Center 

  • By phone: 800-424-8802


BOD: Biochemical Oxygen Demand

CWA: Clean Water Act

DMR: Discharge Monitoring Report

ECHO: Enforcement & Compliance History Online

EFCN: Environmental Finance Center Network

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency

NCI: National Compliance Initiative

NPDES: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

NRWA: National Rural Water Association

POTW: Publicly owned treatment work

RCAP: Rural Community Assistance Partnership

SNC: Significant noncompliance

TSS: Total Suspended Solids

WWTPs: Wastewater Treatment Plants

*DL: Down low

*GMTA: Great minds think alike

The 4-1-1 on Financing: Strategies and Support for Small Water and Wastewater Systems

Complying with environmental requirements under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act can be costly, especially for smaller water utilities, which often struggle to find capital to improve aging infrastructure. In this episode, your LGEAN hosts, Cynthia and Shehla, chat with four experts from EPA and the Environmental Finance Center at UNC at Chapel Hill on environmental financing. Listen to hear about eight key steps for creating an effective financing plan, all the funding and financing options available to you—including bonds, self-financing through rate revenues, grants including Community Development Block Grants, and loans like the State Revolving Fund—and where you can go for resources that best address your local government’s financing needs.


Cassandra Rice, Attorney Advisor, Office of Enforcement Compliance and Assurance, U.S. EPA

Tara Johnson, Environmental Protection Specialist, Office of Wastewater Management, U.S. EPA

Erin Riggs, Executive Director, Environmental Finance Center - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tom Roberts, Senior Business Analyst, Environmental Finance Center – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Additional Resources:

· LGEAN Financing 

· EPA Financing for Environmental Compliance

· EPA Water Finance Clearinghouse

· EPA Water Finance Mailing List

· EPA Water Infrastructure and Resiliency Finance Center

· Environmental Finance Center at University of North Carolina

· EPA Ombudsman for Water

· EPA Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations

· Clean Water State Revolving Fund

· Drinking Water State Revolving Fund

· EPA Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP)

· USDA Rural Development Programs

· AWWA’s 2020 State of the Water Industry Survey

A transcript of this episode is available at https://lgean.net/podcasts.php