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STATES FAIL TO OBEY CLEAN WATER ACT



NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION ** PRESS RELEASE ** OCT. 9, 1997
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CONTACTS: Jim Irwin, 703-790-4083, Ed Wiley, 703-790-4097, Kay
LyBrand, 703-790-4085
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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.
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States' Failure to Obey Clean Water Act Puts People, Environment and
Economy at Risk
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 --Widespread failure to comply with federal Clean
Water Act regulations is putting 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 required protections are being ignored by most states.  It
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."

	"Not one of the 50 states has done what the law requires to
prevent nonpoint pollution or to safeguard the waters or the people,
communities and wildlife that depend on them," said National Wildlife
Federation President Mark Van Putten.  "As Maryland and Virginia are
discovering, the other states could be playing with a time bomb that
threatens their 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 that 17 states, including
Virginia,  Massachusetts, and Colorado, 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 occurred
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" that destroy fish and cause human health
problems; and the 1993 Cryptosporidium outbreak that killed 100 people in
Milwaukee.

	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
thrives 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."
 
	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.  


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