EPA Announces New Initiative to Protect and Preserve America’s Waterways

President Bush will include $21 million in his 2003 budget for a new EPA initiative to protect, preserve and restore waterways across the country. This effort was announced by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman during a visit to the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

The Administrator announced as part of this community-based initiative, EPA will target up to 20 of this country’s most highly-valued watersheds for grants. EPA will be working cooperatively with state governors, tribes and other interested parties on this initiative. This program also will support local communities in their efforts to expand and improve existing protection measures with tools, training and technical assistance.

"As we mark the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act this year, we have much to celebrate and many challenges left to face with regard to our nation’s water resources," Whitman said. "I have heard a watershed defined as "communities connected by water," a good reminder that we all live downstream from someone. I am proud to say that the Bush Administration needs no reminding of that fact.

"President Bush understands the importance of watershed protection and he is taking action to make America’s waterways cleaner and healthier for the families that enjoy them," Whitman continued. "In his 2003 budget, President Bush has included $21 million for a new EPA initiative to copy successful approaches and techniques to protect highly valued watershed resources throughout the country. With the President’s commitment to watershed protection, I am confident that we can preserve and protect our precious waterways for future generations."

Whitman noted that the program "recognizes the important role that states and local communities have in helping to achieve our common goals, by giving them the power to do what works."

Water quality problems including habitat loss and alteration, nutrient enrichment, pathogens, and invasive species continue to harm watersheds nationwide. These problems prevent our resources from meeting water quality goals and deprive the public of economic, recreation, and drinking water opportunities. The problems are complex and require local assessment, involvement and commitment. This investment will capitalize on the lessons learned from existing community-based protection efforts. Information on the watershed program is available at http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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