Monday, September 30, 2002
EPA Says A 1/3 Of US Rivers Too Polluted For Swimming, Fishing
WASHINGTON (AP)--More than a third of surveyed rivers,
and about half of all
lakes and estuaries are too polluted for swimming or fishing, the
Protection Agency said Monday. It projected a gap of more than $500
unmet water quality needs over 20 years unless spending on treatment
The agency issued two separate reports on water quality that were each
on 2000 data. In one of the reports, a biennial national water quality
inventory that formerly was issued as a report to Congress, the agency
runoff from farmland, sewage treatment plants and changes in the natural
of streams and rivers is fouling the nation's waters.
From 1998 to 2000, the percentage of polluted streams rose from 35%, to
the percentage of polluted lakes was unchanged at 45%; and the
polluted estuaries increased from 44%, to 51%.
The second report, a so-called "gap analysis" of water infrastructure
says that an increase in real spending on the nation's network of
plants by 3% above the rate of inflation would be required for cities
towns to keep up with pressing needs.
By 2019, systems could be short $271 billion for wastewater and $263
for drinking water - money that would be badly need to replace aging
maintain existing facilities and build new ones to meet rising demand,
With the 3% spending increases, the gaps could be held to $45 billion
drinking water and $31 billion for wastewater, it said.
G. Tracy Mehan III, EPA's assistant administrator for water programs,
deferred maintenance, in adequate capital replacement and a generally
infrastructure. But he said funding gaps need not be inevitable.
"The overall picture is that probably compared to any country in the
we've had tremendous success in the past several decades, especially
rip-roaring growth of the economy and the substantial growth in the
population," Mehan said in an interview.
"But there's no doubt we face new challenges, and more complex
Environmentalists said the reports paint a darker picture than that.
"We're not making progress in addressing the remaining sources of water
pollution," said Nancy Stoner, director of Natural Resources Defense
clean water project.
Owners of water and waste treatment plants immediately suggested that
federal government should pick up the added costs rather than cover them
through higher local water and sewer rates.
"It bolsters the need for Congress to act quickly on this," said Adam
a spokesman for the Water Infrastructure Network, a trade group for
elected officials and drinking water and wastewater administrators.
immediate action, we're looking at a massive environmental and public
EPA's report made no recommendation on who should pick up the tab.
Krantz said, however, that it probably would add to pressure for more
funding "now that you have the EPA under a Bush administration, which
want to spend money, coming out and positing a very startling high
Bush administration officials have said that they opposed a bipartisan
plan to make billions more available to help states with wastewater
because defense spending must take priority.
Congress has funded such projects at $1.35 billion annually for the past
years, but President Bush sought $1.21 billion in his budget for the
year starting Tuesday. Instead, senate appropriators added $100 million,
bringing the potential total to $1.45 billion.
For drinking water, senators proposed $875 million, which is $25 million
more than both what Bush wanted in his budget and what was approved last