Water Act study criticizes Bush National Trade Publications
WASHINGTON - A study released
by US House Democrats on the federal Clean Water Act said
much has been done to improve water quality over the last
30 years, but decisions of the Bush administration in the
last two years are detrimental to clean water.
Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-MN, ranking Democratic member
of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
released the study last week as the Clean Water Act turned
Oberstar has been a member of the Committee for each reauthorization
of the act since he was elected to the House in 1974.
"In 1972, only one-third of the nation's waters met water
quality goals," the report said. "Today, two-thirds of those
waters meet water quality goals. The nation has doubled
the waters that meet water quality goals, but it is only
one-half of the way there."
The law "is the main reason the nation's waterways have
shown dramatic improvement in water quality, even as the
population has increased by nearly 40 percent," the report
stated, instrumental in improving the health of rivers,
lakes, and coastal waters and stopping billions of pounds
of pollution from fouling the water.
"But there is still much work to be done: one-third of our
Nation's waters fail to meet water quality goals first established
30 years ago," said the report.
The nation now stands at a crossroads in the restoration
and protection of its waters and wetlands, the report said.
"One path improves upon the successes of the last 30 years
and will finally achieve the goals of the Clean Water Act.
The other path leads to the very real possibility that progress
could be lost. It is a simple question of priorities and
commitment," said the report.
The report alleged that the Bush Administration "is pursuing
the latter path, in spite of clear warning signs that our
progress in cleaning up the nation's waters may be slipping."
"The actions - and lack of action - of the Bush Administration
on water quality are slowly and steadily undermining the
successes of the Clean Water Act," said the report.
Bush has suspended implementation of the Environmental Protection
Agency's rule on Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL), which
would have given states an additional tool in addressing
the more than 20,000 rivers, lakes, streams, and other waterbody
segments that remain polluted to the point of endangering
public health, the report sad.
It also accused Bush of providing no leadership on additional
efforts needed to control nonpoint source pollution, the
greatest continuing source of impairment to the nation's
Especially disturbing, the report said, is the opposition
of the Bush Administration to bipartisan Congressional efforts
to increase federal investment in the nation's wastewater
and drinking water infrastructure.
"As our population grows, we must substantially increase
our wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, to maintain
and improve the quality of our water," said the report.
"Failure to make the necessary infrastructure investments
will lead to a serious deterioration in water quality."
"Taken as a whole, the 30-year history of the modern Clean
Water Act has been a tremendous success. However, now, the
United States stands on the threshold of throwing all these
successes away, and reverting back to the days of rivers
that burn, lakes that are dead, and waterways that are sewers,"
said House Democrats.
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