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Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on WaterSense at the Moen Design Reliability Lab, As Prepared

Read Administrator Jackson's blog post about her visit to the Moen Design Reliability Lab.

As prepared for delivery.

Thank you so much to Mr. Bauer and to all of the wonderful employees at Moen for welcoming us to North Olmsted and your Design Reliability Lab. Thank you for the truly fascinating tour and for showing me how you put water efficiency into action every day. It’s nice to be back in Ohio. I was in Cincinnati not long ago – talking to small businesses that are leading the way on water treatment innovations. It’s great to be back – and to be talking again about protecting and preserving our water.

This is an area of the country that has become a leader in the efforts to conserve and protect our waters. Here in Ohio you have a long history of water improvements. As you all know, more than 40 years ago the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was polluted with industrial waste and raw sewage. Nearby Lake Erie had been declared dead because it was too contaminated to support aquatic life. These things became a symbol of many of the challenges that were happening all across the U.S. In Washington, DC, pollution in the Potomac was so heavy that you could smell it in the city on hot days. In many other communities they had no information of what was in their drinking water and limited efforts to keep that water clean and safe. 85 to 90 percent of water systems had little or no information on what bacteria or chemicals might be in the water they delivered.

Out of that concern, a movement took shape. Congress came together to create bipartisan solutions like the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Ocean Dumping Act. The EPA was created to set and enforce commonsense standards to protect human health and the environment. Since that time, we have doubled the number of American waters that meet safety standards for swimming and fishing. Our rivers and beaches are once again known for their beauty and waterbodies across Ohio – including Cleveland – and across the country are cleaner and safer than they have been in generations.

These are issues that Americans care deeply about. A Gallup poll on a range of environmental issues showed that at least 75 percent of Americans “worry a great deal or a fair amount” about pollution in rivers, lakes, reservoirs and drinking water. In fact, clean water issues topped every other environmental issue asked about in the poll. Behind those numbers are the human stories that demonstrate the value Americans place on water: parents who want to know that the water they give their children is safe, the memories of a cherished family fishing spot that should be preserved, or the long awaited dreams of retiring to a home on a beautiful stretch of clean water.

The American dream includes, in no small part, safe and healthy and abundant waters. I know that very well having grown up in New Orleans, right where the Mississippi meets the Gulf of Mexico. You really can’t grow up in a place like that without understanding the extraordinary value of clean, healthy water. So this is an issue that is important to me personally as well.

Now, Americans’ concerns for better water quality have led to stronger standards to protect our waters. They’ve led to better infrastructure for cleaning and carrying that water into our homes and communities. And they are a fundamental part of EPA’s mission each day. But those concerns have also had other impacts – impacts that don’t get mentioned as often when we talk about environmental protection. Those impacts are what we see right here: innovation; new products; and the positive economic results of protecting our water.

Americans want to conserve and protect our water resources. They prove it not just by the priorities they express to the EPA and our elected officials, but also through the products that they buy. Recent years have seen a growing grassroots environmentalism that is directly tied to our economy. Informed consumers are demanding more of their products. This is a grassroots environmental movement that votes with its dollars. Seven in 10 consumers say they will choose brands that are doing good things for people and the planet. 74 percent believe that our companies should do more to protect our planet. And more than half of Americans say they will look for environmentally friendly products in their next purchase.

That is where companies like Moen and programs like WaterSense come in. In the past five years, the EPA’s WaterSense program has helped American consumers save 125 billion gallons of water. To give you a sense of how much water that is, it’s enough to fill Browns stadium – 150 times. Those savings have helped cut more than $2 billion from the water and energy bills of American consumers. WaterSense has also prevented around 6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide pollution from going into our skies. As of today nearly 53 million products have earned the WaterSense label.

Those gains are critical at a time when our nation’s water infrastructure is being pushed harder than ever before. The ability to use water more efficiently is vital in places like California, Arizona, Georgia and Texas, where the demand for clean water is increasing while supplies are tapering off – or outright disappearing in droughts. And the fact is, those gains are made possible through the leadership of companies like Moen and the hard work of people like you.

Moen was our 2010 WaterSense partner of the year – a distinction you earned by ensuring that your entire product line meets the WaterSense criteria. This company has increased the number of WaterSense labeled products in its portfolio nine times compared to how many you had in 2008. And you have made sure that WaterSense products are available to consumers at every price point. Just as important, you’re not just talking about water efficiency; you’re also practicing it – by reusing 70 percent of the water used for product testing.

The EPA is focused on protecting water as a resource that is valuable to our health and the health of our children, that is vital to our economy and that is essential to our way of life. The WaterSense program helps expand our efforts beyond just enforcing environmental laws. It helps us to marshal the forces of the consumer marketplace and the innovative capacity of the private sector. The end result is a situation where we are using less water, where we are saving consumers money, and where we are working together to create economic opportunities for companies like Moen and workers like all of you.

We are very proud to be partnering with you in all of those efforts. And we look forward to continuing that work in the years ahead. Thank you for welcoming us today and for showing us all the great work you’re doing. I’m glad to be with you.