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Release Date: 5/24/96
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As beaches and vacation getaways open for the summer this

weekend, EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner today released a report

that shows how clean water brings billions of dollars into the

nation's economy and brings jobs and profits to local communities.

The report, which examines the importance of clean water in five key industrial sectors, also underscores the challenges the nation still faces in its efforts to clean up and protect America's lakes, rivers and beaches.

Speaking at the waterfront beside the Potomac River, Browner said, "As we head into summer, clean, safe water -- a precious resource -- becomes more important than ever in our daily lives. Today, EPA is releasing a report that demonstrates beyond a doubt that clean, safe water is essential to the health of our communities and our nation's economy. Clean water is a boon to the nation's economy, not a drain. Economic prosperity and environmental protection go hand in hand."

Among the major findings released today in the report entitled "Liquid Assets: A Summertime Perspective on the Importance of Clean Water to the Nation's Economy":

Beaches, rivers and lakes are the number one vacation choice for Americans, who take over 1.8 billion trips to water destinations, contributing to the $380 billion recreation and tourism industry, which is the second largest employer in the country after health care, providing six million jobs;

On average, the value of real estate along desirable water areas is nearly 30 percent greater than at similar inland properties;

The $45 billion commercial fishing and shell fishing industry needs clean water in order to deliver products safe for eating. Over a quarter of a million people harvest fish and shellfish around U.S. water bodies, and Americans now eat 15 pounds of fish and shellfish per person a year;

Manufacturers use about 13 trillion gallons of water each year; the soft drink industry alone uses over 12 billion gallons of water a year to produce products valued at more than $50 billion;

About 15 percent of American farmlands use irrigation, producing crops valued at nearly $70 billion a year, about 40 percent of the total value of all crops sold; and,

The clean water technology industry has sales of over $64 billion a year in the United States and over $170 billion abroad.

EPA data show the United States is richly endowed with water bodies: 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams; 41 million acres of lakes; 58,000 miles of shoreline; 34,400 square miles of estuaries; 278 million acres of wetlands; 33,000 trillion gallons of groundwater (half of which is used for drinking water).

However, Browner cautioned that, "To ensure that our nation continues to reap the benefits of clean water, we cannot and we must not take this vital natural resource for granted. Today's report shows that despite the progress of the past 25 years, 40 percent of rivers, lakes and streams surveyed are still too polluted for fishing or swimming. One out of five drinking water systems reports violations of public health standards. In l994, more than 2,000 beaches were closed to protect the public from bacteria and other pollutants. One out of three shellfish beds is closed for harvest because of contamination. People in many communities are warned that to protect their health, they must limit the amount of fish they eat from their local river, their local lake.

"President Clinton recognizes the importance of clean water to this nation and has taken agressive action to protect it." Browner added. "The President stood firm against the attack on public health and environmental protection. And the President will continue to take those actions necessary to protect this vital natural resource. To protect our health, our communities, and our economy, we must protect our water."

Copies of the report are available to reporters by calling the EPA Press Office at 202-260-4355. The general public may get copies by calling EPA's Water Resource Center at 202-260-7786. The report will be available on the Internet within a week at:

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