Clean Water Advocacy - News Releases - July 14, 2000

July 14, 2000
Contact: John Millett, 202/833-4651, AMSA

America's Wastewater Agencies Support EPA Clean Water Rule

Washington, D.C. — The Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies (AMSA) commends the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to address the last major source of unchecked water pollution — polluted runoff or “nonpoint source pollution” — with its new total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) rule. Nonpoint source pollution is the result of runoff from crops, livestock, roads, logging, abandoned mines and the deposition of air pollution. Runoff from rainwater, irrigation or melting snow washes pollutants such as sediments, fertilizers, pesticides and bacteria into streams, rivers, lakes and estuaries.

The new TMDL rule requires states to develop clean-up plans for “impaired” waters. To be effective, all sources of impairment must be identified and included in the plans. The new rule provides critical mechanisms for holding states accountable for addressing nonpoint source pollution. Without the new rule, AMSA believes that point sources would bear a disproportionate share of the cleanup, allowing an unacceptable number of nonpoint sources to continue polluting the water.

AMSA supports the rule because direct action to control nonpoint source pollution is overdue. For nearly 30 years, the Clean Water Act has focused almost exclusively upon point sources — easily identified and controlled discharges from industrial or municipal wastewater facilities. This approach has reaped enormous water quality benefits. But the dramatic improvements seen in the early years of the Clean Water Act have leveled off because nonpoint source pollution has gone relatively unaddressed. Today, largely due to impairments from nonpoint source pollution, 40 percent of the nation's waters do not meet state and federal standards for use as drinking water supplies, fisheries or recreation, according to EPA's latest national assessment of water quality.

“AMSA members strongly support equitable pollution reductions for all sources of water quality impairment,” AMSA Executive Director Ken Kirk said. “As EPA moves forward with TMDLs, the success of the nation's water quality program depends upon pollution reductions from nonpoint sources. AMSA recognizes the concerns surrounding TMDLs,” Kirk said, “and we fully support the need for flexible, cost-effective and reliable management practices — as well as funding assistance — for nonpoint sources to aid in improving the nation's water quality. Together, municipal wastewater agencies, industry and the nonpoint source community can meet the goals of the Clean Water Act. Point sources alone cannot achieve America's clean water goals.”

AMSA represents the nation's publicly owned wastewater agencies. Together, AMSA member agencies serve the majority of the sewered population and reclaim over 18 billion gallons of wastewater every day.

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