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Water Quality Conference Tallac Historic Site, California

Carol M. Browner, Administrator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Water Quality Conference
Tallac Historic Site, California
June 18, 1997

Thank you, Bob. Let me begin by thanking the members of the Washoe Tribe for that beautiful blessing, and for welcoming us to their native land.

I am delighted to have the opportunity to participate in this important conference -- the first of three official “issue workshops” for the Presidential Forum on Lake Tahoe.

The Clinton Administration’s interest in the restoration and protection of Lake Tahoe --and the surrounding natural area -- has two essential elements.

First, we want to ensure that the federal government remains a valued and helpful part of the “collaborative partnership” you have built to secure both the environmental and economic future of this beautiful area.

Second, we want to learn from your experiences here in Tahoe -- and perhaps use them as a model for other important environmental restoration efforts throughout the country.

What you have succeeded in doing here is establishing common ground -- upon which businesses, environmentalists, local government officials, scientists and many others are moving forward to address challenges that, all too often, divide rather than unite us.

The President and Vice President strongly believe that environmental protection and economic progress go hand-in-hand -- that we do not have to choose between our environment and our jobs. Indeed, the two are inextricably linked.

The Lake Tahoe area offers a case-in-point.

Recreation and tourism have become the economic backbone of this region. It is a premier vacation destination for millions of people who are attracted by the intense natural beauty of this place.

The principal challenge is how to preserve that natural beauty -- the clear water, the fresh air, the beautiful scenery and the fabulous quality of life here in Tahoe -- so that visitors may continue to enjoy these things, continue to bolster the local economy, and do so without degrading the environmental quality that attracts them in the first place.

It is a difficult challenge, to be sure. The threats to the water, air and land in this region are serious and widespread. A growing population -- and growing recreational activities in and around Lake Tahoe -- have disrupted the natural systems that are the source of this area’s great beauty.

Today, at this conference, we will be discussing ways in which the water quality -- and especially the legendary water clarity -- of Lake Tahoe can be restored and protected for generations to come. We’re going to be talking about critical initiatives to manage the surrounding watershed, restore vital wetlands and address specific pollution threats -- all of which are essential elements of an overall strategy to a cleaner, clearer Lake Tahoe.

EPA has a long history of providing financial support, under the Clean Water Act, to state and local agencies responsible for addressing these issues in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

But I want to stress that the greatest promise for success comes from you -- the people who care about the health of this lake and are moving Heaven and Earth to ensure that this area remains one of the nation’s most enchanting places to live and to visit.

I’m deeply impressed by your enthusiasm and your determination to get the job done. I salute you -- not only for the success of your collaborative partnership, not only for the progress you’ve made -- but also for the ambitious course you’ve set for the future. And I look forward to learning more at this conference about the challenges you face and how we can work together to address them.

We are pleased that the Army Corps of Engineers is co-hosting this workshop, as well as for the commitment the agency has demonstrated to the effort to restore and protect Lake Tahoe. I am delighted to turn the floor over to the Assistant Secretary of the Army, and head of the Corps, Martin Lancaster....