[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]


Enviro-Mich message from "ANITA M. KRAEMER" <KRAEMER@nwf.org>

CONTACTS: Jim Irwin, 703-790-4083, Ed Wiley, 703-790-4097, Kay
LyBrand, 703-790-4085
Copies of NWF's report  "Pollution Paralysis: State Inaction Puts Waters at
Risk" may be obtained by contacting Kay LyBrand, 703-790-4085, or by
e-mail to lybrand@nwf.org, or by calling any of the contact numbers
listed above.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 -- Widespread failure to comply with Federal
Clean Water Act regulations is putting Michigan and many states across
the country at risk of pollution-fueled crises like the fish kills and
suspected human health problems currently attributed to toxic outbreaks
of the Pfiesteria microbe in Maryland and Virginia.   

	A newly released report from the National Wildlife Federation
reveals that Michigan ranks  among the worst offenders in failure to
comply with Clean Water Act regulations designed to protect waters
from dangerous run-off and other  nonpoint  sources of pollution.  The
report concludes that  had Maryland and Virginia protected their waters
by aggressively using the Clean Water Act's watershed protection
provisions, it is reasonable to believe they could have been spared from
the current Pfiesteria crisis  and warns of serious threats to Michigan
and other states not following the law.

	 Not one of the fifty states has done what the law requires to
prevent nonpoint pollution or to safeguard the water or the people,
communities and wildlife that depend on them,  said National Wildlife
Federation President Mark Van Putten.   As Maryland and Virginia are
discovering, Michigan could be playing with a time bomb that threatens its
people, environment, and economies. 

	The law in question is a portion of the Clean Water Act designed
to protect watersheds from so-called nonpoint sources of pollution,
including airborne pollutants and the kind of polluted run-off widely
believed to have contributed to the toxic Pfiesteria outbreaks in Maryland,
Virginia and other locations.  It requires states to inventory waters at
risk, then determine the types and amounts of pollutants they can safely
accept from all sources --the so-called  total maximum daily load  (TMDL).
 Once a TMDL is determined, states must devise and implement plans to
control pollution throughout the watershed to keep levels below the
established ceiling.   

	 A few states aren't even taking the most basic steps, and that
just defies common sense,  said NWF water quality specialist Kari Dolan,
who reviewed the states' performance.

	NWF's analysis of EPA records revealed 17 states, including
Michigan, and the Territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have
not complied with even the basic legal requirements of identifying
imperiled waterways. Seventeen states -- including 
Maryland -- have produced the required lists but have done little to plan
for adequate protection of the waters in question.  In Maryland's case,
the rivers in which the Pfiesteria outbreak is underway were not even
identified as  at risk. 

	 Pfiesteria is a wake-up call to America that water quality
regulations are not about federal bureaucracy or meddling,  said Van
Putten.   They're about taking common-sense precautions to protect our
health and our future from all kinds of threats. 

	Among threats associated with nonpoint source water pollution
are drainage of toxic chemicals from mines into groundwater, streams,
and rivers; fish contaminated by high levels of toxic mercury; algal
blooms causing  red tides  which destroy fish and cause human health
problems; and the 1993 Cryptosporidium outbreak that killed 100 people in

	Though scientists still debate the link between Pfiesteria and
polluted run-off, Dr. JoAnn Burkholder of North Carolina State University
and discoverer of Pfiesteria says,  There's no doubt that Pfiesteria
on water which has high nutrient content and low oxygen levels.  The
evidence strongly suggests that pollution from contaminated run-off is a
primary cause of the recent Pfiesteria outbreaks when combined with
poorly flushed estuaries, brackish water, and low wave action. 

	In addition to compliance with existing law, NWF prescribes
stronger and enforceable watershed protections and controls on
concentrated feedlot operations as the most logical protection against
Pfiesteria and other problems.

 	Van Putten commended Maryland Governor Glendening for his 
determined and serious approach to addressing the Pfiesteria crisis.   He
added, however,  in the future, the best protection is prevention. 
Michigan should pay close attention to Maryland's experience and act on
the lesson. 

 	The nation's largest member-supported conservation group, the
National Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of life to protect
nature, wildlife and the world we all share. NWF has educated and
inspired families to uphold America's conservation tradition since 1936.

- 30 -

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"