The EPA, the Texas Association of Builders, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced July 31 a new partnership to educate and assist home builders on meeting federal and state storm-water requirements.

The first of its kind on both a regional and national level, the agreement builds on previous partnerships between the groups. In 2005, EPA's Region 6 (South-Central), the association, and the commission began offering Texas builders cooperative training, including a manual and an accompanying DVD, covering storm-water controls that help builders reduce runoff and pollution. In 2007, the program was offered again, this time with an added self-assessment checklist.

Beginning this fall, pros undergoing the training and completing the checklist will receive the "Storm Water Self-Certified" designation. The storm-water logo can be placed on the corresponding permit, the association reports, and sites displaying the sticker will be a lower priority for routine inspections.

"We wanted to develop a partnership and a solution so that builders and state regulatory organizations could work together," Lorraine Urey, the association's education director, tells EcoHome.

"It underscores how you can use innovative partnerships to develop better ways to protect our environment," echoes Tressa Tillman, spokesperson for EPA's South-Central region. Tillman says she hopes other states and other builders can use the Texas program as an example to develop their own initiatives.

Urey reports that builder members have responded enthusiastically, with more than 1,300 having undergone the compliance training. "Because this has been a program through their association, they are on board and behind it," Urey says. "When we spoke the them earlier this year, the response was all positive. They understand that this has been years in the making ... it's been carefully planned and will be carefully rolled out."

"These training initiatives ... have helped to ensure our builders are taking the necessary steps to reduce storm-water pollution," said association first vice president Ron Connally in a statement. "[Our] membership is committed to continuing its efforts to comply with the law and to take the necessary steps to prevent storm-water pollution."