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Great Lakes Article:

Clean Water Network Status Report-April 2002

 In this issue:
1. Earth Day and the Clean Water Act at 30 Look What the Bush Administration is Putting in Your Water 2.  Network Status Report Become Paperless! 3.  Urgent Action Needed on Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure! 4.  Say NO to Waste in Our Waters-Thousands of Miles of Streams Have  Been Buried in Waste: Yours Could Be Next Even if There Is No Coal  Mining in Your State! 5.  America’s Most Endangered Rivers- Brought to You by the Corps 6.  EPA Takes a Hands-off Approach to Herbicides in Water 7.  Coast Alliance to Release Guides to Sediment Contamination 8.  National Coastal Condition Report Finds Coasts in Trouble 9. Network Workgroup Meetings 10.  Modeling and TMDLs White Paper Available 11.  Threatened and Impaired Waters Listing Call Series 12.  Protect America’s Unique Wetlands 13.  Big Changes at the Network--Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator  Position Available 14. Network Activist Spotlight-Mobile Bay Watch15. See Your Favorite Waters in a Whole New Way through SkyTruth

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 1. Earth Day and the Clean Water Act at 30 Look What the Bush Administration is Putting in Your Water

 In 1972 the federal government passed a broad and sweeping piece of  legislation called the Clean Water Act.  Thirty years later the goals of  the Act are yet to be a reality.   Protections the public and Network  members used to take for granted are being unraveled by the Bush  administration.  The administration has handed polluting industries the  pen to draw up regulatory rollbacks for their own profit.  Coal  companies are allowed to bury streams with mining waste while another  important water resource, wetlands, continue to be filled at an alarming  rate.  Raw sewage, which most people think is a thing of the past, is  still discharged into urban waters, streets, and playgrounds. Finally,  the program that was included in the original Clean Water Act in 1972 to  address impaired waters-the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program-has  yet to be seriously implemented.

 We contacted Network members in March about a national Earth Day event  on Saturday, April 20, the focus of which will be all the types of  pollution the Bush administration is ignoring or opening up the Act to  allow.  The theme is: "Look what the Bush administration is letting  polluters put in your water!"  Network members will also be tying in the  30th anniversary theme of "The Clean Water Act at 30: Time to Keep the  Promise."  Network members have developed fact sheets, model press  releases, photographs and B-roll for media outlets depicting the types  of pollution the Bush administration is putting in your water.   Interested Network members should contact Ami Grace at 202-289-2421 or  agrace@nrdc.org. 

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 2.  Network Status Report Become Paperless!

 The Clean Water Network monthly Status Report will now only be  electronically available to Network members.  We are hoping this change  will cut down on the amount of paper we are sending out each month and  will allow us to get our newsletter out more quickly to our members.   So, if you look at the front of this newsletter and do not see an e-mail  address by your name or if you see the wrong address by your name,  please contact the Network at cleanwaternt@igc.org and let us know what  e-mail address to use.  After this month you should not expect another  paper newsletter unless you do not have e-mail.

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 3.  Urgent Action Needed on Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure!

 On Thursday, April 18, the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee will consider a bill to reauthorize Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water  state revolving fund dollars- S. 1961 co-sponsored by Senators Jeffords  (I-VT), Smith (R-NH), Graham (D-FL), and Crapo (R-ID).  We need your  help to ensure that these funds, $35 billion, are used to fund  environmentally beneficial projects. (Refer to our the March Status  Report for more on several infrastructure bills in the House and Senate.)

 This bill will determine whether we start spending our dollars more  wisely, increase public participation, and begin to use more pollution  prevention and green infrastructure approaches or whether we lessen  state accountability for the use of funds, diminish opportunities for  public input, and lock in the hard infrastructure approaches of the  past, even when green infrastructure approaches would achieve greater  environmental benefit at the same or lower cost.

 Your Senator needs to hear from you on how to vote to make sure that the  SRF is environmentally helpful, not harmful.  Please go to our  Legislative Action Center at www.cwn.org and send an e-mail message or  print out and fax a letter today!  The text of the e-mail or letter is  provided for you to pass on to your members.

 Dear Senator ________,

 I am writing to urge you to vote to ensure that the State Revolving Fund  Reauthorization Bill (S. 1961) that the Senate will consider on April 18  includes crucial environmental provisions. 

 Please vote YES to Senator Wyden’s green infrastructure amendment.  This  amendment will provide more funding for the smartest, most beneficial  projects, reduce a broad range of water pollution sources, and would  fund projects already determined to be priorities for each state’s water  program.

 Vote NO to Senator Voinovich’s amendment that reduces important public  participation and transparency provisions from S. 1961, reduces state  accountability, allows SRF funds to go to communities that are in  significant noncompliance with the Clean Water Act, and limits avenue  for citizen opposition to environmentally destructive projects.

 Support the Chairman’s mark if it retains the following provisions:  denying funding to entities that refuse to agree to comply with the  Clean Water Act, strong coordination provisions for state and local  planning efforts, expanded eligibility for projects that protect surface  waters using soil and vegetation ("mother nature’s way"), consideration  of more environmentally sensitive approaches for use of SRF funds,  expanded use of integrated priority setting, and enhanced public  participation in priority setting process.

 Thank you,

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 4.  Say NO to Waste in Our Waters- Thousands of Miles of Streams Have  Been Buried in Waste: Yours Could Be Next Even if There Is No Coal  Mining in Your State!

 Thanks to calls and pressure from Clean Water Network members across the  country, the Bush administration has not yet moved forward with a rule  that would allow a wide variety of waste material to bury and destroy  our nation’s wetlands and streams.  Thanks for the amazing outcry!   However, all signs point to an imminent rule change on the horizon so we  must continue to make the Administration feel the heat that this rule  change will generate among Network members and the American public. 

 The proposed change to the definition of 'fill' material under the Clean  Water Act would result in an unconscionable weakening of the Clean Water  Act by allowing the Corps to permit water bodies to be turned into waste  dumps - the very thing the Act was adopted 30 years ago to prevent.  The  proposed rule change came about as a result of the Corps’ desire to  legalize mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia.  However, the  proposed rule would not only allow mining waste to bury waters of the  United States, but it would also allow other types of waste to bury our  waters as well.  So, even if coal mining or mountaintop removal mining  is not an issue in your state, your waters would be threatened because  of this rule change.  For that reason, we are still asking Network  member to contact the Bush administration and to tell them to say NO to  the fill rule.  To contact President Bush and to learn more, go to the  Network’s web site at www.cwn.org and click on the Legislative Action Center.

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 5.  America’s Most Endangered Rivers- Brought to You by the Corps

 On April 2 American Rivers released their annual report, America’s Most  Endangered Rivers. This year American Rivers declared the Missouri River  the most endangered river of 2002.  Army Corps of Engineers dams are  contributing to the decline of native Missouri River fish, birds, and  other species, and extinction is a strong possibility for some of these  species unless the Corps changes dam operations and dramatically  accelerates its efforts to restore habitat, Review of the Most  Endangered Rivers lists for the past 16 years reveals a startling  statistic: one single organization has been directly responsible for, or  has contributed to, almost 60% of the listings. Astonishingly, this  organization works for you-the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 Others that made American Rivers’ top 11 list include: Big Sunflower River, Klamath River, Kansas River, White River, Powder River, Altamaha  River, Allagash Wilderness Waterway, Canning River, Guadalupe River and Apalachicola River.  For the full report, to go  http://www.amrivers.org/mostendangered2002/default.htm.

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 6.  EPA Takes a Hands-off Approach to Herbicides in Water

 Can an individual spray pesticides directly into your local lake without  a Clean Water Act permit?  In the January edition of the Status Report  we mentioned a May 2001 Ninth Circuit decision, Headwaters, Inc. v.  Talent Irrigation District, that held that a permit is required for the  discharge of aquatic herbicides directly into waters of the United  States.  The waterbody in question in the Talent case was an irrigation  canal.  Members of the Clean Water Network sent a letter to EPA last  fall on the issue and reminded the administration that the Clean Water  Act "requires a permit for all direct applications of an herbicide into  waters of the U.S.  There is no exception from this requirement for  herbicides or other pesticides regulated under the Federal Insecticide,  Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), nor should there be."  

 In early April EPA released a memorandum on the issue stating that  return flows from irrigated agriculture are not regulated under the  Clean Water Act and, therefore, a National Pollution Discharge  Elimination System (NPDES) permit is not needed to directly discharge  herbicides into irrigation canals and ditches, even when they discharge  into waters of the United States.  EPA’s memo is based on 1977  amendments to the Clean Water Act that exempted irrigation return flows  from point source requirements under the Act, but it appears to be  squarely inconsistent with the Talent decision.  For more information,  go to
http://www.epa.gov/npdes/pubs/talentfinal.pdf.

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 7.  Coast Alliance to Release Guides to Sediment Contamination

 Coast Alliance is announcing the upcoming release of their new  publication Citizens’ Guides to Contaminated Sediments in Communities.   These guides will present a national overview about the problems  encountered from sediment contamination in the nation’s waters as well  as provide local citizens with information about toxic sediments in  their backyards. The guide will also critique EPA’s 1997 National Sediment Inventory.

 Because this is not only a national report but also a state-by-state  report, Coast Alliance is currently looking for Network members willing  to co-release the guide in their state.  To help release the guide in  your state or for more information, please call or e-mail Jaime Matera  with Coast Alliance at (202) 546-9554 or jmatera@coastalliance.org.

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 8.  National Coastal Condition Report Finds Coasts in Trouble

 EPA recently released the first environmental report card on water  quality at our nation’s coasts. The National Coastal Condition Report  presents a broad baseline picture of the overall condition of U.S.  coastal waters as fair to poor, varying from region to region. The  findings in the report were based on seven coastal water quality  indicators - water clarity, dissolved oxygen, coastal wetland loss,  eutrophic condition, sediment contamination, ecological condition of  bottom-dwelling organisms, and fish tissue contamination. The report  finds all coasts are in either fair or poor condition (none are in good  condition) and 44% of estuarine areas in the U.S. are impaired for human  use or aquatic life use.  EPA intends to conduct additional studies on  more specialized coastal issues and measure condition changes over time.  For a copy of the report, go to: http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/nccr/ or  call 800-490-9198 for a free copy.

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9. Network Workgroup Meetings

 Reminder: Deadline to Register for June 2-4 Water Quality Standards  Mini-Caucus is April 26!

 The Clean Water Network is holding its first-ever water quality  standards mini-caucus in Washington, DC from June 2-4.  Information  about this meeting was sent to the standards listserve and was in the  last newsletter.  If you are interested in learning more or if you still  have not registered, please contact Ami Grace at 202-289-2421 or  agrace@nrdc.org.  We must have all registrations by April 26. 

 Animal Factory Farm Meeting a Great Success!

 The Clean Water Network hosted a mini-caucus for its Feedlot Workgroup  on March 18-20 in Washington, DC.  Over 40 activists, representing 19  states, the District of Columbia, and Canada, participated in the  strategy meeting.  During the meeting, participants engaged in  discussions on topics such as, winning state and local strategies around  the country, ways to keep new Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations  (CAFOs) out of our communities, and permitting.  Breakout sessions  enabled litigators to share ideas for bringing novel claims against bad  actors, and organizers to share strategies for mobilizing communities  into action.

 Overall, the event was a success.  Bringing this group of dedicated  individuals with different experiences together proved valuable.  We  identified a number of areas where we could effectively work together  with the assistance of the Clean Water Network’s coordination.  The  workgroup will be working to develop model materials that can be adapted  for use by activists all over the country.  For instance, we will be  working to pull together the best state components of regulatory  programs, as well as to develop model permits, regulations, and local  health ordinances and moratoria on construction of new CAFOs or  expansion of existing CAFOs.  If you would like more information on  these efforts of would like to offer assistance, please contact the Feedlots Workgroup Coordinator, Melanie Shepherdson, at mshepherdson@nrdc.org or 202-289-2393.

 Wetlands Activists Attend SWANCC Summit

 Forty-seven wetlands activists attended the SWANCC Summit April 6-8 in  Washington, DC.  The meeting was sponsored by the Clean Water Network,  the National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, the Izaak Walton League  and the National Audubon Society.  The meeting was a wonderful  opportunity for wetlands activists to learn more about the biology and  importance of isolated wetlands, to share state-level strategies for  isolated wetlands protections, and to share ideas for a federal strategy  to protect isolated wetlands and other waters.  A list of tools that the  Network and its partners could provide to wetlands activists was  compiled.  Participants met with their members of Congress and asked  them to support legislation which would restore protection for all  waters under the Clean Water Act. We would like to thank all the  speakers and Network members who made this event possible!

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 10.  Modeling and TMDLs White Paper Available

 Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are watershed cleanup plans for our  most polluted waters. As such, TMDLs are of huge interest to the members  of the Clean Water Network.  Over the next decade or more, Network  organizations and their members will be faced with approximately 40,000  cleanup plans. These plans will be key to progress on clean water.   However, with so many plans and so many of them requiring technical  review, watershed organizations may be quickly overwhelmed.
 To help mitigate this problem, the Network is producing a series of  'white papers' on technical and policy issues associated with TMDL  cleanup plan development and implementation. These white papers are  designed to help the dedicated layperson constructively weigh in on the  TMDL process or on a draft TMDL cleanup plan that is out for public  comment. 

 The first paper focuses on the use of models in TMDL development.  Citizens involved in TMDL cleanup plans need to know when a model should  be used and when it shouldn’t, how complex a model needs to be to be  successful, what models are out there, and how they can best watchdog  modeling efforts. For a copy of the paper, visit our website at  www.cwn.org or call Merritt Frey at 208-345-7776.

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 11.  Threatened and Impaired Waters Listing Call Series

 To help our members gear up for the 2002 Impaired and Threatened Waters  list (303(d) list), the Network is hosting a series of several calls on  listing issues.  The goal of these calls is to have folks from around  the country share the problems they face on a particular issue and to  hear strategy ideas from their peers in other states.  Learn from the  best brains out there - your Clean Water Network peers!

 Instead of setting 'policy' the goal of the calls is to generate ideas,  strategies, and action items for use in your on the ground work.   Participants bring specific examples of proposals or actions by their  states on specific issues.  Other call participants then share media,  organizing, policy, or legal strategies that they have tried or  considered.  Good ideas bloom! 

 Network staff will also try to identify places where Network or other  resources could be brought to bear in order to help our members tackle  the good ideas we generate.

 Listing issue calls tackled so far include:

            'Credible' data and bad listing/delisting methodologies · Citizen monitoring data and 303(d) listing · Flow impairment

 Got a listing issue you want to brainstorm on? Let us know!  Contact  Merritt at
mkfrey@mindspring.com or 208-345-7776.

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 12.  Protect America’s Unique Wetlands

 Thanks to the Izaak Walton League for sharing this information on American Wetlands Month.

 American Wetlands Month, which is celebrated during the month of May, is  a wonderful opportunity for communities to conserve wetlands and to  educate others about their importance. Join thousands of Americans this  year in celebrating the beauty and uniqueness of wetlands through  on-the-ground projects, activities and events.

 The theme for 2002-03 is Bogs, Playas, Pools: Protect America’s Unique  Wetlands! The League encourages communities to focus American Wetlands  Month activities and wetland conservation efforts throughout the year on  the protection of vernal pools, prairie potholes, bogs, fens, cypress  domes and other wetlands that are ephemeral (dry up during part of the  year) or isolated from streams, lakes, oceans or other water bodies.  Isolated and ephemeral wetlands provide vital breeding and resting  habitat for migratory waterfowl, essential breeding habitat for  amphibians, flood protection, beauty, and many other benefits. Community  education and action is needed to fill potential gaps in federal  protection of these vital ecosystems following the Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC) v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Supreme Court ruling in 2001.

 The League plans several events in May to kick-off American Wetlands  Month nationwide. This year, events include wetland educational  activities for the entire family in Washington, D.C.; Cortland, NY; and  Milwaukee, WI. More information is available on the League’s web site at  www.iwla.org/sos/awm. Also, please visit the League’s interactive  Wetlands Activities Calendar (click on Take Action, then Wetland  Activities Calendar) to find American Wetlands Month activities near you  and to list your activities. The web site also includes an American  Wetlands Campaign kit that includes fact sheets on wetlands, project  ideas, case studies, step-by-step information on how to coordinate  specific projects, and additional resource listings.

 The Clean Water Network encourages members of the Wetlands Workgroup to  participate in American Wetlands Month in the ways outlined above, and  also by getting your city council to protect wetlands through the  Network’s City Clean Water Proclamation Campaign!  We are asking city  councils’ across the country to recommit to the Clean Water Act by  adopting our clean water proclamation and by making specific commitments  to clean water.  We highly encourage Network members to work with their  cities to protect isolated waters.  Use the proclamation campaign and  American Wetlands Month to protect isolated waters!  Go to  www.cwn.org/docs/30thanniversary/city_clean_water_proclamation_ca.htm  for more on the Network’s proclamation campaign and ideas on how to get  your city or county to protect isolated waters.

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 13. Big Changes at the Network

 Spring represents a time of new beginnings.  The Network will see a  number of changes this spring and summer as staff at the Network embark  upon exciting new career opportunities within the environmental  community.  We are sad to say that Lindsey Christ, our Program Assistant  and Webmaster, will be leaving the Network to go back out into the field  to perform field research on gypsy moths in southwestern Michigan for  the University of Chicago.  Lindsey’s organizational and technical  skills have kept the Network running smoothly for the past year and she  will be missed by Network staff and members.  Thanks for all your hard  work, Lindsey!

 And on that note, I am sad to say that Ami will be leaving the Network  in July to pursue her goal of earning a law degree to continue to fight  the good fight: she’s trading in her telephones and action alerts for  gavels and lawsuits.  (I guess all those technical discussions on the  TMDL and standards listserves really inspired her!)  She’ll still be  around until then, so please continue to contact her this spring and  summer.  But now, the Network needs YOU to help us find a new Grassroots  Advocacy Coordinator to take her place.  Please read the job description  below and pass it on to any interested co-workers or friends.    Please  help the Network find a great organizer - we’d love to have one of the  amazing organizers we’ve worked with in the states get this job.   Network members are strongly encouraged to apply.

 -Eddie Scher, Director of the Clean Water Network

 Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator Position Available

 The Clean Water Network; a national alliance of over 1,000 citizen  organizations working together to strengthen federal clean water policy  is seeking an energetic, well-organized person to be our Grassroots  Advocacy Coordinator in Washington, DC.  We are seeking an individual  with environmental experience who is able to handle multiple tasks at  once, works well with a wide variety of people and possesses strong  written and oral communications skills. This is an excellent opportunity  to work with national and grassroots groups on major advocacy and media  campaigns. 

 The ideal candidate would have some experience in grassroots organizing,  newsletter writing, advocacy campaigns and/or legislative work, and a  strong commitment to grassroots participation in national coalitions.   Must demonstrate strong writing skills, possess good diplomatic skills  and an ability to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people.  For a more detailed list of responsibilities and to apply, please visit  our web site at www.cwn.org and click on Job Opportunities.

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 14. Network Activist Spotlight-Mobile Bay Watch

 Do you live in a city with an antiquated sewer system and serious  sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) problems?  Are high repair costs  preventing the city from updating and repairing the system?  Well, the Mobile Bay Watch, Inc. and the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System may have created the model program for dealing with SSO problems (with a  little help from the courts.) 

 In 1999, Mobile Bay Watch took legal action against the water and sewer  authority in Mobile, AL because they had violated the Clean Water Act  over 1,000 times during a five-year period.  After two years, all the  parties involved finally came together and worked out a settlement that  could become a national model for solving SSO problems without costly  trials or the huge penalties that have been levied against other cities.

 Both Mobile Bay Watch and the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System were  pleased with the settlement, which basically requires that the sewer  system speed up major upgrades to prevent more spills. It also requires  more stringent monitoring and reporting of accidental sewage discharges  with penalties ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars  for each spill.  Everyone involved in the litigation focused heavily on  solving the problems rather than placing the blame and deserves praise  for their cooperation and communication throughout the settlement.

 The settlement includes some very progressive and innovative solutions  to the SSO problem and allows most of the money to return to the  community for water quality improvements.  Some of the consent decree  highlights include $450,000 to buy land for preservation in Mobile  County, a $50,000 grant to Mobile Bay Watch to establish a water quality  monitoring database, and a $2 million fund for low-income families to  repair leaking sewage pipes on private property.  After January 2003,  half of the penalties paid by the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System  will be added to the low-income family fund with the other half going  towards local water quality monitoring efforts. 

 Other highlights include an extensive three part monitoring system, the  formation of capacity assurance programs and grease control program,  monitoring for priority pollutants, streamlined reporting procedures,  and extensive emergency planning. 

 Mobile Bay Watch will continue to push for these types of settlement  requirements to become standard in other areas around Mobile Bay.  If  you would like to learn more or view the consent decree, visit Mobile  Bay Watch’s website at www.mobilebaywatch.org or contact Casi Callaway,  Executive  Director of Mobile Bay Watch, at callaway@mobilebaywatch.org.

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 15. See Your Favorite Waters in a Whole New Way through SkyTruth

 SkyTruth is a new non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia,  whose mission is to promote environmental protection, education and  advocacy using the powerful information tools of satellite imagery and  digital mapping.  To accomplish that mission, SkyTruth provides  environmental organizations and government agencies with training,  expertise and direct assistance with understanding and using these  tools.  SkyTruth is already working on a number of projects with Network  members including American Oceans Campaign, Earthjustice Legal Defense  Fund and the Wyoming Outdoor Council.  If you have a project that could  use some maps, digital photographs or remote sensing, you may want to  contact SkyTruth’s president, John Amos at skytruthamos@yahoo.com or (703) 276-9790.

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 Contact CWN Staff

 Please use the information below for contacting CWN staff. Note that the  cleanwaternt@igc.org email address can also be used to contact CWN with  general clean water concerns.

 Eddie Scher, Director
escher@nrdc.org, 202-289-2395
Ami Grace, Grassroots Director
agrace@nrdc.org, 202-289-2421
Lindsey Christ, Program Assistant/Webmaster
lchrist@nrdc.org, 202-289-2422
Linda Young, Southeast Field Coordinator
llyoung@igc.org, 850-222-9188
Merritt Frey, Watershed Restoration Program Director mkfrey@mindspring.com, 208-345-7776
STEERING COMMITTEE
Co-Chairs
Jackie Savitz, Coast Alliance Nancy Stoner, Natural Resources Defense Council
WORK GROUPS
Coastal:
Catherine Hazlewood, The Ocean Conservancy
Feedlots:
Ken Midkriff, Sierra Club Martha Noble, Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Enforcement:
Richard Caplan, PIRG
TMDLs:
Merritt Frey, CWN Coordinator
Wetlands:
Julie Sibbing, NWF Daniel Rosenberg, NRDC
Wet Weather and Funding: Nancy Stoner, NRDC Paul Schwartz, CWA
Clean Water Network listserves are for CWN members only and messages are intended solely for those environmental activists.

 

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