Bush Administration Commits $15 Million to Protect and Restore America's Watersheds

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt announced 14 watersheds–representing 17 states–eligible for $15 million from EPA’s Targeted Watersheds Grant Program. The selected areas represent more than 20,000 square miles of rivers, lakes and streams across the United States.

"Through this program, EPA lends a hand to local groups working to protect and restore our nation’s watersheds," said Leavitt from the banks of Gray’s Lake, part of the Upper Mississippi watershed. "With these watershed projects, we take a critical step forward in providing clean and safe water for every American."

Watersheds qualifying for the program stretch from Cape Fear on the Atlantic Coast, through much of the Mississippi River Basin, all the way to Dungeness River in Washington State and the Kenai River in Alaska. Watershed health is strategically important to providing clean, safe water where Americans live, work and play. Since 2003, more than $30 million has been provided through the Targeted Watersheds Grant Program.

The Targeted Watersheds Grant Program was proposed in 2002 by the Bush Administration to encourage successful community-based approaches to protect and restore the nation's watersheds. This competitive grant program provides needed resources to those watershed organizations whose restoration plans set clear goals and objectives with special consideration given to water quality monitoring, innovation, a public education component and strong community support.

Special consideration was given to watersheds along the Mississippi River Basin, where market-based water quality trading pilot projects are being implemented to address excessive nutrient run-off along the River. This nutrient overload has been scientifically linked to the seasonal hypoxic–or oxygen starved–zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Effectively protecting and restoring local watersheds has a direct impact on the health of our oceans and coastal areas.

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy highlighted this connection in its preliminary report, stating "the nation’s coastal and ocean resources are affected not only by the activities in coastal areas, but also by those in upland watersheds." The Commission endorsed programs like the Targeted Watersheds Grant Program to provide technical and financial assistance to states and communities for watershed initiatives that will ultimately protect our oceans and coasts.

The watersheds eligible to apply for the grant money made available today are:

Nashua River, Massachusetts and New Hampshire

Ipswich River, Massachusetts

Passaic River, New Jersey

Schuylkill River, Pennsylvania

Cape Fear, North Carolina

Sangamon River, Illinois

Kalamazoo River, Michigan

Fourche Creek, Arkansas

Upper Mississippi River, Iowa

Bear River, Utah, Idaho and Wyoming

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

Siuslaw River, Oregon

Dungeness River, Washington

Kenai River, Alaska

Detailed information about these projects and the Targeted Watersheds Grant Program is available at: http://www.epa.gov/twg For more on The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, please visit: http://www.oceancommission.gov/documents/prelimreport/welcome.html

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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