The Bush administration will ask Congress for $21 million
for fiscal 2003 to create a new program within the Environmental
Protection Agency aimed at restoring pollution-damaged
streams and rivers.
With the new program, the agency plans to choose 10 watersheds
that deserve more protection through grants to states,
tribes and local communities, EPA Administrator Christine
Todd Whitman said last week.
"The biggest challenges we face in water now is from
nonpoint source pollution and the best way to address
that is a watershed-based approach," Whitman said in an
She announced the program during a visit to the Minnesota
Valley National Wildlife Refuge near Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Unlike pollution leaking from industrial and sewage treatment
plants, nonpoint source pollution comes from many sources.
Rainfall or melted snow moving on the ground picks up
natural and man-made pollutants, such as fertilizers,
toxic chemicals from urban runoff and acid drainage from
Some of the watershed problems include loss of habitats,
an overload of nutrients, pathogens and the introduction
of nonnative species.
If the new program is approved, Whitman said, EPA officials
would work closely with governors, tribal officials and
local representatives to expand watershed-protection training
Congress now appropriates money to protect specific watersheds
such as the Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, Long Island
Sound and the Great Lakes.
"The existing funding for watershed protection has been
unorganized and spread unevenly," said Tom Schueler, executive
director of the Ellicott City-based Center for Watershed