The Clinton-Gore Administration took action to finish the job of cleaning up rivers, lakes and bays throughout the United States in order to ensure safer, healthier water.
This action comes after a recent legislative effort to delay EPA from finishing this initiative.
Despite Administration objectives, Congress added a legislative "rider" to block the clean water rule, which was undergoing review and revision after a period of public comment.
According to EPA statistics, 40 percent of America''s waters are polluted, and more than 90 percent of all Americans live within 10 miles of a polluted body of water.
"This program is designed to control the greatest remaining threat to America''s waters -- polluted runoff," said EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner. "The time has come to move forward and live up to the promise of the Clean Water Act by making our waters fishable and swimmable once again."
EPA agreed to a number of changes in the program in response to the comments received after its initial proposal, including those from members of Congress.
These changes include:
- dropping provisions that could have required new permits for forestry, livestock and aquaculture operations
- significantly enhancing state flexibility
- giving states four years instead of two years to update inventories of polluted waters; and allowing states to establish their own schedules for when polluted waters will achieve standards.
The president has called on the Congressional leadership to eliminate the delay, which was added into the emergency supplemental spending bill just before the July 4th recess.
Clinton went forward with the signing of the final clean water rule, before the legislative prohibition becomes effective.
EPA, however, is making the effective date for the program coincide with the end of the delay. That date is presently Oct. 1, 2001.
When the rule takes effect, water pollution problems will be addressed comprehensively on a state-by-state, river-by-river basis, for the first time ever.
EPA, the states and local communities will work together to develop cleanup plans tailored specifically to the protection of local water bodies.
States and local communities will have maximum flexibility to determine how best to meet cleanup goals by setting their own total maximum daily loads (TMDLs).
TMDLs establish allowable limits to reduce the pollution that flows directly into a waterbody.
by Virginia Sutcliffe