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March 12, 1999

White House, Congress Target Nonpoint Source Pollution
Congress and the White House are focusing heightened attention on nonpoint source pollution, signaling an opportunity for AMSA to make significant headway in its push for enforceable authority over nonpoint sources at the state level. This week, Vice President Gore announced the completion of the EPA/USDA Unified National Strategy for Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs), and, at the behest of the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, the Government Accounting Office (GAO) released a study on the federal government's response and contribution to nonpoint source pollution. Both actions indicate significant steps toward more stringent regulation of nonpoint sources.

The AFOs strategy will require comprehensive nutrient management plans for all AFOs by 2009. And, in a surprise move by the administration, Gore stipulated that the strategy will require large companies that own the livestock to “share responsibility” for meeting the new requirements. EPA anticipates that the strategy will result in the issuance of 20,000 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to AFOs across the country. In AMSA's comments on the strategy, the Association applauds EPA for cracking down on this source of water quality impairment while at the same time reminding the agency that the long-term success of this effort might be compromised without enforceable mechanisms. Gore also announced $100 million in additional funding to states to control nonpoint source pollution through Watershed Restoration Strategies and $157 million in proposed FY 2000 funding to states and communities to reduce urban and agricultural runoff that impacts estuaries.

Released just a day after the vice president's announcement, the GAO report, “The Federal Role in Addressing and Contributing to Nonpoint Source Pollution,” may play a significant role in future clean water legislation that seeks more stringent regulation of nonpoint source pollution. The GAO reports that the federal government has spent about $3 billion annually from 1994-1998 on 35 programs identified by EPA, USDA, the Interior Department and other federal agencies as directly or indirectly addressing nonpoint source pollution. From 1994-1998 USDA spent $11.54 billion on activities related to nonpoint source pollution, the report says. EPA, on the other hand, spent $1.15 billion over the same period, mostly in State Revolving Loan Fund contributions and to help develop state nonpoint source pollution control programs. In a March 10 statement on the report, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, said that he is “hopeful [that] the report will contribute toward the development of bipartisan legislation to improve the nation's approach to water quality protection.” Boehlert also pledged to work with appropriators to find more funds, which would allow EPA to use more sophisticated models to more accurately predict both nonpoint source pollution's water quality impacts and the funding needed to prevent them.

Borski, Boehlert to Speak at AMSA's National Environmental Policy Forum
This week, AMSA received confirmation that two key lawmakers will address the POTW community at its National Environmental Policy Forum in Washington, DC from May 22 to the 26. Both long-time champions of strong clean water legislation, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), chair of the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, and Rep. Robert Borski (D-PA), ranking member of the subcommittee, have accepted AMSA's invitations. Rep. Borski will speak during the National Environmental Achievement Awards luncheon, where AMSA will recognize his years of dedicated environmental leadership.