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Top EPA Water Official Stresses Importance of Water Monitoring

Release Date: 10/16/2003
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

Mehan, Others Take Water Samples At Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project in Louisiana
During World Water Monitoring Month

      Officials participating in World Water Monitoring Month got their hands wet in sampling activities at the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project in southern Louisiana today.  The officials joined thousands of volunteers from around the globe by assessing water quality and adding their data to an international database.  

      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water G. Tracy Mehan, III, said, "At this time we do not have sufficient information to provide a national answer to characterize the condition of waters and watersheds in the U.S. We run the risk of flying blind if we aren't able to get dramatic improvements in water quality monitoring and data to support wise management decisions."

      Only 20 percent of river and stream miles and 40 percent of lake acres are monitored by states.  Because water quality standards and monitoring approaches vary across state lines, EPA cannot add up state data to get a national water quality picture.  

      Without good monitoring data, EPA's ability to analyze the nation's water quality suffers. In addition, evaluation of pollution control actions, allocation of limited resources for cleanup, pollution prevention and restoration are challenged.

      The Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project is an example of an ongoing restoration project where monitoring has been conducted since 1988.  Data show that freshwater marsh plants increased more than seven times, brackish marsh plants increased by almost half, and the amount of salt marsh vegetation decreased by almost half since operation of the structure began.  

      The project diverts fresh water and its accompanying nutrients and sediments from the Mississippi River to coastal bays and marshes in Breton Sound for fish and wildlife enhancement. About 16,000 acres of marshland are being preserved, and 77,000 acres of marshes and bays are benefiting.

      More information about World Water Monitoring Day and Month is available at or  More information about the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project is available at