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Watershed Budget Announcement, Bloomington, Minnesota

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the Watershed Budget Announcement
Bloomington, Minnesota

January 25, 2002

Thank you, it is a pleasure to be here with you today on behalf of President Bush and the EPA to make an important anncouncement about America waterways.

I am especially pleased to have the opportunity today on behalf of President Bush and the EPA to make an important announcement about America's waterways.

As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, we have much to celebrate and many challenges left to face with regard to our Nation's water resources.

Over the past 32 years, EPA and the states have been extremely successful in addressing the needs of the rivers, lakes, and streams across our country.

In more instances, that required us to focus on point sources--a pipe discharging directly into a river, for instance.

However, today the primary cause of most of America's water pollution challenges is non-point source pollution.

For example, when a suburban homeowner uses a certain pesticide on their lawn, or when farmers aren't careful about how they manage their waste, or when city dwellers aren't concerned about what is deposited on their streets, waste can be carried by small streams or rivers and wind up in the ocean.

This is called non-point source pollution--pollutants that aren't dumped directly into water but
wind up there anyway.

Because of the difficulties of identifying and eliminating non-point sources, I believe that achieving the next generation of environmental progress in water will demand the adoption of a watershed-based approach.

I have heard a watershed defined as "Communities connected by water"--a good reminder that we all live downstream from someone. I am proud to say that the Bush Administration needs no reminding of that fact.

President Bush understands the importance of watershed management--and he is taking action to make America's waterways cleaner and healthier for the families that enjoy them.

In his 2003 budget, President Bush has included an additional $21 million to allow the EPA to build on the success of watershed management practices across the country.

With this money, the EPA will target 20 of our country's most highly-valued watersheds for grants that will support local communities in their efforts to expand and improve existing protection measures.

The pilot watersheds will be identified with the help of recommendations from state governors and others interested parties--an excellent example of the type of bottom-up partnerships we are relying on to make this effort successful.

As a former governor, I understand that it is often those closest to a problem who are best suited to finding a solution.

This initiative recognizes the important role state and local governments can play in helping us achieve our common goals, by giving them the power to do what works.

The EPA can then help ensure their success by supporting them with the technical and financial assistance they need to turn ideas into action.

Watershed management is based upon the same principles as all of our work at the EPA--a cooperative spirit and a commitment to results.

No one understands the need for this kind of approach better than Minnesotans--with more than 10,000 lakes the entire state could be considered a watershed.

Of course, it is not just the communities within Minnesota that are connected by water, but communities across North America as well. Water from Minnesota flows north into Hudson Bay, east into the Atlantic Ocean, and south into the Gulf of Mexico.

Here at the Minnesota River watershed, and not far from the mighty Mississippi, we are reminded of the importance each of our individual actions can have on others.

We all enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing, therefore, we all have a responsibility to be good stewards of our Nation's waterways.

That means watching carefully what we do not only at the river's edge, but anywhere within a watershed.

With the President's commitment to watershed management, I am confident that we can preserve and protect our precious waterways for future generations.

Thank you.