EPA Water Rules

By George Grow

This is Steve Ember with the VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT.

The administration of President Clinton has announced rules to protect American rivers and lakes from agricultural and industrial pollution. The new national plan will require states to identify polluted waters and produce plans for cleaning them up. The clean-up must be completed within fifteen years.

Some members of Congress criticized the Environmental Protection Agency for approving the plan. Agriculture groups, business leaders and some state governors also oppose the rules.

EPA chief Carol Browner says twenty-thousand bodies of water in the United States are polluted. These waters do not meet water quality rules to protect public health. She says more than ninety percent of all Americans live within sixteen kilometers of a polluted body of water.

The Clean Water Act gives the federal government special powers to clean polluted waters. This law requires states to work with interested groups or individuals to develop a Total Maximum Daily Load program for polluted waters.

The program identifies the soil and other particles carried in water that wash across fields and forest lands. These particles flow into rivers and streams.

Last year, the EPA proposed changes in the rules to improve the Total Maximum Daily Load system. The agency received more than thirty-four-thousand comments on the proposals.

EPA officials say they are moving forward with the changes. But they say the new rules will not take effect until October of next year. Last month, Congress approved a measure that delays the use of federal money for the new rules.

EPA officials say the water pollution program would cost all fifty states about thirty-million dollars a year. They say it will make thousands more rivers, lakes and coastal waters safe for swimming and fishing.

However, the largest American farm group criticized the new rules. The American Farm Bureau says the changes would harm farms and forest product businesses.

The United States Chamber of Commerce also opposes the new rules. It says they would interfere with state governments' control over present water quality programs.

This VOA Special English ENVIRONMENT REPORT was written by George Grow. This is Steve Ember.

Voice of America Special English