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Total Maximum Daily Load Program

Carol M. Browner, Administrator            
Environmental Protection Agency
                 Remarks Prepared for Delivery
                Total Maximum Daily Load Program
                        Washington, D.C.
                        August 13, 1999

     When the Cuyahoga River -- choking with pollution -- caught fire back in 1969, our nation demanded action and within a few years the Clean Water Act was passed by Congress.
     We've made remarkable progress since then. But while rivers no longer burn, the problems of pollution still smoulder in too many of our waterways.
     The job is not done. We must build on our success and complete the task of cleaning our nation's waters.
     Today we unveil a detailed inventory of our nation's water quality.
     The states and territories have identified over 20,000 river segments, lakes and estuaries across America as polluted. These waters include approximately 300,000 miles of river and shoreline and almost five million acres of lakes. They are polluted mostly by sedimentation, nutrients and harmful microorganisms.
     Clean water is fundamental to our health, the health of our environment and the health of our communities. More than 90 percent of our population lives within 10 miles of one of these polluted bodies of water.
     Today we are also proposing new water pollution reduction requirements to achieve cleaner waters across America. For each of the 20,000 polluted bodies announced today, the states will develop site-specific clean up plans.
     These proposals were drawn up in consultation with an advisory committee made up of representatives of state and local governments, business and industry, farmers, sewage treatment plant operators and other concerned groups.
     Under this plan, states will set what we call Total Maximum Daily Loads -- or TMDLs. These numbers, which will vary waterway by waterway, will tell us exactly how much more pollution reduction is necessary for each water body listed o meet water quality standards.
     Recognizing that no two rivers -- no two lakes -- are identical, this is not a one-size-fits- all kind of proposal. Under this plan, states will be required to develop a plan that fits the needs of each individual waterway and its surrounding community.
     Should a state fail to meet these requirements, EPA will step in to ensure that all Americans -- regardless of where they live -- can enjoy waters that are fishable and swimmable.
     In keeping with this Administration's commitment to commonsense and cost-effective environmental solutions, this proposal includes a number of innovative approaches to pollution reduction, including -- for example -- pollution reduction trading programs similar to the very successful acid rain emissions trading program.
     This Administration has made delivering clean, safe water to the American people a priority, including proposing and signing into law the Safe Water Drinking Act Amendments of 1996 and the Clean Water Action Plan that will coordinate federal efforts to assist state and local governments with their own clean up efforts.
     This Administration is committed to providing Americans with clean water because that, in turn, creates thriving, healthy communities. From the rebirth of Baltimore Harbor, to the restoration of the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, the Florida Everglades and San Francisco Bay, communities across the country are coming together to make the tough decisions to protect their water resources.
     Even the Cuyahoga River has staged a remarkable comeback.
     And with today's proposal, the Clinton/Gore Administration believes we can make even further progress. We are committed to the proposition that clean water for all Americans will forever be a crucial issue -- but never again a burning one.