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Great Lakes Article:

Maria Maybee
From Great Lakes United
Posted 10/29/2002

According to the Environmental Protection Agency's National Water Quality Inventory 2000 Report:
Rivers and Streams:  Sixty-three percent of surveyed river miles fully support their designated uses and 37% of surveyed river miles are impaired. 

Lakes:  Only 23% of surveyed lakes fully support their designated uses and 77% are impaired.

Great Lakes:  None of the 374 surveyed Great Lakes shoreline miles support fish consumption.  However, 52% of surveyed shoreline miles support swimming.

Ocean Shoreline:  None of the surveyed ocean shoreline miles support shellfish harvesting.

Estuaries and Bays:  All of the surveyed estuary waters are impaired.
Leading sources of surface water pollution in New York include agriculture, erosion, urban runoff, combined sewer overflows, and municipal wastewater treatment plants.

One of the most valuable tools available to states for water quality work is federal financial assistance through loans and grants.  Some of most important sources of federal funding are administrated by the Environmental Protection Agency and include the following programs: Clean Water State Revolving Fund, Water Pollution Control State and Interstate Program Support (Section 106 Grants), and Special Needs Support

Unfortunately, President Bush’s proposed budget for FY 2003 cuts EPA funding for water programs by $524 million, with significant consequences for individual states.  New York bears $47.2 million of this proposed cut to water quality (18.1 percent below the current year).  For example, New York’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which maintains sewage treatment, has been drastically reduced, falling by $15.2 million or 10.2 percent.  In addition, money assisting New York to reduce pollution loadings into its waterways (Section 106 Grants) was cut 7.1 percent.  Funding for New York’s Special Needs, for which it received $31.6 million in FY 2002, has been slashed to nothing. 

These reductions have very serious implications for state efforts to improve water quality.  As a result, a coalition of environmental groups is calling for an increase in funding for EPA water quality programs during the federal appropriations process.         

New York Toxic Releases in 2000:
Releases into Surface Waters:   8,992,560 pounds
Releases into Public Sewage:    11,106,518 pounds
New York ranks 14th in the nation for toxic releases into waterways.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s data January 2000  March 2001:

In total, 96 of New York’s major facilities (27%) were in significant non-compliance. Of these major facilities, 25 of all major industrial facilities (20.2%) were in significant non-compliance as well as 69 of all major municipal facilities (30.3%).

New York does not rank high in terms of percentage, but ranks 3rd in the nation for number of major facilities in significant non-compliance.
America's wetlands rank among our most vital natural resources.  They purify our drinking water, save our homes from floods, and protect our coasts.
·       Of New York's estimated original 2,562,000 acres of wetlands, circa 1780, only 1,025,000 acres are estimated to still exist as of the 1980s, a net loss of 60%.

·       New York has 72 rare wetland-dependent species, such as the bald eagle and the spotted darter. Of these rare species, 49 are animals and 23 are plants.

·       The economic value of New York’s remaining wetlands is $6.1 billion.

The state of New York does not require counties to test their beach waters.  The state’s county health departments are responsible for making sanitary surveys of all beaches; it is at their discretion to monitor beaches and to determine frequency of monitoring.  All of the coastal counties do regular bacterial tests, but only 4 of the 9 counties in New York conduct regular bacterial testing and monitoring.. 

In 2001, New York had at least 229 ocean, bay, or Great Lakes closings/advisories, as well as, two extended, and four permanent closings/advisories.

According to EPA's Safe Drinking Water Information System, between Fiscal Years 1997 and 2001, New York had 293 community water systems with reported health standard violations.  This is 10% of all systems in New York.  Eighteen percent of the population or 3,175,101 people are served. (Note: Most violations are not reported according to an October 2000 EPA final report on quality of data in SDWIS.)

New York had 92 fish consumption advisories in 2001.  This is an increase of 3 since 2000. Of these advisories, 121 were for lakes, 123 for rivers, 11 for coasts, 20 for estuaries, 11 were statewide, and 123 were for the Great Lakes. 

Nationally 2,618 fish consumption advisories were posted in 2001. This is 220 less than in 2000  a decrease of 8%. However, advisories are categorized by geographic location and the average lake acreage, river miles, and coastline miles under advisory have increased since 1993.  An alternative analysis of the number of advisories, as based on species and pollutants, would generate a different view of each state.


Water Quality Data:
U.S. EPA. National Water Quality Inventory 2000 Report. August 2002.

Toxic Discharge and Enforcement Data:
U.S. Public Interest Research Group. Permit to Pollute:  How the Government’s Lax Enforcement of the Clean Water Act is Poisoning Our Waters. August 2002.

U.S. EPA. 2000 Toxic Release Inventory Fact Sheets. June 2002.

Wetlands Data:
Dahl, T.E. Wetlands Losses in the United States, 1780’s to 1980’s. U.S. Department of Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington D.C., 13 pp., 1990.

The Nature Conservancy and the International Network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers. National Heritage Central Databases. January 2000.

Coastal Data:
Natural Resources Defense Council. Testing the Waters 2002: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches. July 2002.

Funding Data:
U.S. Office of Management and Budget. Budget of the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 2003, Budget Information for States. July 2002.

Drinking Water Data:
U.S. EPA. Data Reliability Analysis of the EPA Safe Drinking Water Information System, Federal Version (SDWIS/FED). July 2002.

Fish Consumption Data:
U.S. EPA. Listing of Fish and Wildlife Consumption Advisories. 2001.

Saving Wetlands

What you can do?

Acquiring legal title to property by purchase, donation, easements, or other method.

Writing comment letters, telephoning, building coalitions to influence state, local, or federal laws, regulations, and policies. Volunteering on citizens committees, getting elected to positions where you can be a wetlands advocate.

Helping people understand the value of wetlands and why they are worth protecting.

Land Use Activity
Influencing local or state planning efforts such as comprehensive plans, watershed planning, and local ordinances for wetlands protection.

Legal Action
Filing Clean Water Act citizen suits or administrative or judicial challenges to local, state, or federal decisions.

Creating alliances, sharing information and data, working together on project proposals and advocacy positions, and mentoring. We are stronger and more effective working together.

Permit Review
Reviewing and commenting in writing or orally on local, state, or federal permits that affect the wetlands in your community.

Restoring wetland functions to a former wetland through planting or hydrological modifications to the system such as removing dikes or barriers. "Enhancement" refers to activities conducted in existing wetlands to increase function(s).

Mapping wetlands, conducting inventories of birds and other wetland-dependent species, monitoring water levels, and other projects to gather data that can be used to protect wetlands. Strategies include citizen science, professional studies, and science reviewers to analyze the data and studies that government agencies produce for permits and policy decisions.

Creating Wetlands Watch programs and other projects to help protect wetlands on an ongoing basis.

Holding press conferences, wetland tours, and other public events to deliver a clear and consistent message about wetlands protection and your particular wetland. This can also include testifying at local town meetings and other forums where you can give wetlands a voice.

September 13, 2000 - National Audubon Society 1901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW #1100 Washington, DC 20006 202-861-2242

Maria Maybee
Habitat and Biodiversity Program Coordinator

Great Lakes United
Cassety Hall- Buffalo State College
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14222
ph: (716) 886-0142 fax:-0303

All life is sacred.
Water is life.
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