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February 14,1998

The Honorable Albert Gore, Jr.
Vice President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C 20500

Dear Mr. Vice President:

On October 18,1997, the 25th anniversary of the 1972 Clean Water Act, you directed us to work with other
federal agencies and the public to develop a Clean Water Action Plan that charts a course toward fulfilling the
original goal of the Clean Water Act —"fishable and swimmable" waters for all Americans. We are pleased to
submit the enclosed Clean Water Action Plan on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental
Protection Agency, and the other federal agencies that assisted us in its development.

Over the past 25 years, America has made outstanding progress in reducing water pollution and restoring our
rivers, lakes and coastal waters. In communities across the country, restoration of water quality has had dramatic
environmental, recreational, and economic benefits. Despite this progress, serious water pollution problems
persist. States report that about 40 percent of the waters they assessed do not meet water quality goals. About
half of the nation's over 2,000 major watersheds have serious or moderate water quality problems.

This Clean Water Action Plan provides a blueprint for restoring and protecting the nation's precious water
resources. The Action Plan builds on the Clinton Administration's accomplishments over the past five years and
proposes aggressive new actions to strengthen the program.

A key element in the Action Plan is a new cooperative approach to watershed protection in which state, tribal,
federal, and local governments, and the public first identify the watersheds with the most critical water quality
problems and then work together to focus resources and implement effective strategies to solve those problems.
The Action Plan also includes new initiatives to reduce public health threats, improve the stewardship of natural
resources, strengthen polluted runoff controls, and make water quality information more accessible to the public.

We look forward to working with you to ensure that the nation continues to make steady progress in restoring
and protecting the health of water resources in ways that make  sense for the communities that depend upon them.
               Carol Browner
               U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Dan Glickman
U.S. Department of Agriculture



                                                          »»i.. »'*/.,'

Clean Water Action Plan — Overview	  i
Introduction	  x

    I Setting the Stage: Successes, Challenges, and New Directions	  1
           Clean Water Successes and Challenges	  1
                 Clean Wafer Successes	  1
                 Economic Benefits of Clean Water	  2
                 Foundations of Success	  3
                 Today's Water Quality Challenges	  7
                 Consequences of Water Pollution	  9
                 A New Institutional Arrangement	10
           Ten Principles for Restoring and Protecting America's Waters  	11

    II Actions to Strengthen Core Clean Water Programs	21
           Clean Waters: Healthy People	21
                 Improve Assurance that Fish and Shellfish are Safe to Eat 	22
                 Ensure Beaches are Safe for Swimming	27
                 Ensure Water is Safe to Drink	28
                 Reduce Exposure to Endocrine Disrupting Pollutants	29

           Enhance Natural Resources Stewardship	30
                 Stewardship of Federal Lands and Resources	 31
                 Restore and Protect America's Wetlands	39
                 Protect Coastal Waters	45
                 Incentives for Private Land Stewardship	49

           Strong Polluted Runoff Controls	54
                 Strengthen State and Tribal Polluted Runoff Programs  	54
                 Reduce Nutrient Over-enrichment	58
                 Expand Clean Water Act Permit Controls	60
                 Develop Incentives for Reducing Polluted Runoff	64

           Improve Information and Citizens'Right to Know.	65
                 Improve Monitoring and Assessment	66
                 Citizens'Right to Know	68

   III America's Watersheds: The Key to Clean Water.	73
           Unified Watershed Assessments	75

           Restore Aquatic System Health on a Watershed Basis	77
                 Define Watershed Restoration Priorities	 78
                 Watershed Restoration Action Strategies	79
                 Watershed Restoration Progress Report	81

           Build Strong Partnerships to Speed Restoration and Protection	 81
                 Watershed Assistance Grants	 83
                 Communities Supporting Watersheds	84
                 National Watershed Awards.	84
                 Expand Watershed Training	85
                 Enforcement and Compliance Assistance	86

            Watershed Management Framework	86
                 National Watershed Forum	87
                 Program Coordinators	87
                 Reinvention Opportunities	88

Epilogue—Toward the Future	89

                                              rlpan water action plan 0\ V'/'7
Clem Ufiter Action Plan:  Overview
              Over the past quarter century, America has made
              tremendous strides in cleaning up its rivers, lakes,
       and coastal waters. In 1972, the Potomac River was too
       dirty to swim in, Lake Erie was dying, and the Cuyahoga
       River was so polluted it burst into flames. Many rivers and
       beaches were little more than open sewers. The improvement
       in the health of the nation's waters is a direct result of a
       concerted effort to enhance stewardship of natural
                                         resources and to
                                         implement the
                                         provisions of fed-
                                         eral, state, tribal
                                         and local laws. In
CLEAN WATER—THE ROAD AHEAD     clean Water Program at a Crossroads
                                                       After 25 years of progress, the nation's clean water program
                                                       is at a crossroads. Implementation of the existing programs
                                                       will not stop serious new threats to public health, living
                                                       resources, and the nation's waterways, particularly from
                                                       polluted runoff. These programs lack the strength,
                                                       resources, and framework to finish the job of restoring
                                                       rivers, lakes, and coastal areas.To fulfill the original goal of
                                                       the Clean Water Act — "fishable and swimmable" water for
                                                       every American — the nation must chart a new course to
                                                       address the pollution problems of the next generation.

                                                       Charting a New Course

                                                       In his 1998 State of the Union Address, President Clinton
                                                       announced a major new Clean Water Initiative to speed
                                                       the restoration of the nation's precious waterways.
                                                       This new initiative aims to achieve clean water by
                                                       strengthening public health  protections, targeting
                                                       community-based watershed protection efforts at high
                                                       priority areas, and providing  communities with new
                                                       resources to control  polluted runoff.

                                                       On October 18,1997, the 25th anniversary of the Clean
                                                       Water Act, Vice President Gore directed the Department
                                                       of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection
                                                       Agency (EPA) to work with other federal agencies and the
                                                       public to prepare an aggressive Action Plan to meet the
                                                       promise of clean, safe water for all Americans.This Action
                                                       Plan forms the core of President Clinton's Clean Water
                                                       Initiative in which he proposed $568 million in new
                                                       resources in his FY 1999 budget to carry it out.The Action
  "Americans have stood as one in-
saying 'no'to things like dirty water,
 and'yes'to giving our children an
   -"•';-.  ,--' - -' *,  • x  -•:~~Ka*'~>-««»--*?i
 ,  environment as unspoiled as ="""'.
     the^r hopes and dreams."  -?
       — President Clinton, May 1995
                                         particular, the
                                         Clean Water Act
                                         has stopped
       billions of pounds of pollution from fouling the nation's
       water, doubling the number of waterways safe for fishing
       and swimming. Today, rivers, lakes, and coasts are thriv-
       ing centers of healthy communities.

       Despite tremendous progress, 40 percent of the nation's
       waterways assessed by states are still unsafe for fishing
       and swimming. Pollution from factories and sewage
       treatment plants, soil erosion, and wetland losses have
       been dramatically reduced. But runoff from city streets,
       rural areas, and other sources continues to degrade the
       environment and puts drinking water at risk.  Fish in many
       waters still contain dangerous levels of mercury, polychlori-
       nated biphenyls (PCBs),and other toxic contaminants.

                                    restore and rotect watersheds ffl
Plan builds on the solid foundation of existing clean
water programs and proposes new actions to strengthen
efforts to restore and protect water resources. In imple-
menting this Action Plan, the federal government will:

    • support locally led partnerships that include a
      broad array of federal agencies, states, tribes,
      communities, businesses, and citizens to meet
      clean water and public health goals;

    • increase financial and technical assistance to
      states, tribes, local governments,farmers, and
      others; and

    • help states and tribes restore and sustain
      the health of aquatic systems on a
      watershed basis.

Four Tools for Clean Water	

Federal, state, tribal, and local governments have many
tools they can use to clean up and protect water
resources. Regulation, economic incentives, technical
assistance, research, education, and accurate information
all have  a role to play in meeting clean water goals.This
Action Plan is built around four key tools to achieve clean
water goals.

A Watershed Approach

This Action Plan envisions a new, collaborative effort by
federal, state, tribal, and local governments; the public; and
the private sector to restore and sustain the health of
watersheds in the nation.The watershed approach is the
key to setting priorities and taking action to clean up
rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.
Strong Federal and State Standards

This Action Plan calls for federal, state, and tribal agencies
to revise standards where needed and make existing
programs more effective. Effective standards are key to
protecting public health, preventing polluted runoff, and
ensuring accountability.

Natural Resource Stewardship

Most of the land in the nation's watersheds is cropland,
pasture, rangeland, or forests, and most of the water
that ends up in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters falls on
these lands first. Clean water depends on the conserva-
tion and stewardship of  these natural resources.This
Action Plan calls on federal natural resource and con-
servation agencies to apply their collective resources and
technical expertise to state and local watershed restora-
tion and protection.

Informed Citizens and  Officials
Clear, accurate, and timely information is the foundation
of a sound and accountable water quality program.
Informed citizens and officials make better decisions
about their watersheds.This Action Plan calls on federal
agencies to improve the information available to the
public, governments, and others about the health of
their watersheds and the safety of their beaches,
drinking water, and fish.

A Watershed Approach —
The Key to the Future	

This Action Plan proposes a new collaborative effort by
state, tribal, federal, and local governments, the private

                                                  clean water action plan fl~ Yt'l '3C70'
        sector and the public to restore those watersheds not
        meeting clean water, natural resource, and public health
        goals and to sustain healthy conditions in other watersheds.

        For the past 25 years, most water pollution control
        efforts relied on broadly applied national programs that
        reduced water pollution from individual sources, such as
        discharges from sewage treatment plants and factories,
        and from polluted runoff.Today, there is growing recogni-
        tion that clean water strategies built on this foundation
        and tailored to specific watershed conditions are the key
        to the future.

        Why Watersheds?
        Clean water is the product of a healthy watershed —
        a watershed in which urban, agricultural, rangelands,
        forest lands, and all other parts of the landscape are
        well-managed to prevent pollution. Focusing on the
        whole watershed helps strike the best balance among
Skipjack under sail on the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Program is an international model
of Interagency and Intergovernmental cooperation on a large watershed scale. The Program sets goals
for water quality and habitat restoration based on sound science and achieves them by developing
consensus driven strategies. For example, federal agencies are working with agricultural and forest
landowners to develop farmland and riparian forest buffers, feedlot and animal strategies, and to
provide technical support
efforts to control point source pollution and polluted
runoff, and protect drinking water sources and sensitive
natural resources such as wetlands. A watershed focus
also helps identify the most cost-effective pollution
control strategies to meet clean water goals.

Working at the watershed level encourages the public
to get involved in efforts to restore and protect their
water resources and is the foundation for building strong
clean water partnerships.The watershed approach is the
best way to bring state, tribal, federal, and local programs
together to more effectively and efficiently clean up and
protect waters. It is also the key to greater accountability
and progress toward clean water goals.

Key Elements of the Watershed Approach

This Action Plan proposes a watershed approach built
on several key elements.

Unified Watershed Assessments.  States, tribes, and
federal agencies currently set priorities for watershed
action in many different ways. For example, state water
quality agencies are developing lists of impaired water
bodies, defining source water protection areas for
drinking water, identifying coastal  protection priorities,
and defining priority areas for agricultural assistance
programs. Similarly, federal, state and tribal natural
resource agencies set their priorities for watershed
restoration and protection in various ways to meet their
mandates for natural resource conservation.These
processes are designed to meet valid objectives, but too
often opportunities to work together to meet common
goals are overlooked.

                                    restore and protect watersheds//? '/?" '//-Tff'
This Action Plan creates a strategic opportunity for states
and tribes, in cooperation with federal land and resource
managers on federal lands, to take the lead in unifying
these various existing efforts and leveraging scarce
resources to advance the pace of progress toward clean
water. As a number of states and tribes have demonstrated,
they can meet existing requirements more efficiently and
develop more coordinated and comprehensive priorities
on a watershed basis.

Unified watershed assessments are a vehicle to identify:

    •  watersheds that will be targeted to receive
      significant new resources from the President's
      FY1999 budget and beyond to clean up waters
      that are not meeting water quality goals;
    •  pristine or sensitive watersheds on federal
      lands where core federal and state programs
      can be brought together to prevent degrada-
      tion of water quality; and
    •  threatened watersheds that need an extra mea-
      sure of protection and attention.
Watershed Restoration Action Strategies. The Action
Plan encourages states and tribes to work with local
communities, the public, and federal environmental,
natural resource, and land management agencies to
develop strategies to restore watersheds that are not
meeting clean water and natural resource goals.
Watershed Restoration Action Strategies will spell out
the most important causes of water  pollution and
resource degradation, detail the actions that all parties
need to take to solve those problems, and set milestones
by which to measure progress. Funds made available to
federal agencies through the FY 1999 Clean Water
and Watershed Restoration Budget Initiative will be
used to help states implement these strategies.

Watershed Pollution Prevention. Protecting pristine
or sensitive waters and taking preventive action when
clean water is threatened by new activities in the
watershed can be the most cost-effective approach to
meeting clean water goals.This Action Plan encourages
states, tribal, and federal agencies to bring core
programs and existing resources together to support
watershed pollution prevention strategies to keep
clean waters clean.

Watershed Assistance Grants. Federal agencies will
provide small grants to local organizations that want to
take a leadership role in building local efforts to restore
and protect watersheds.These grants will ensure that
local communities and stakeholders can effectively
engage in the process of setting goals and devising
solutions to restore their watersheds.

Strong Federal and State Standards
This Action Plan calls on federal, state, and tribal
governments to strengthen existing programs to
support an accelerated effort to attack the nation's
remaining water quality problems. Federal, state, and
tribal standards for water quality and polluted runoff
are key tools for protecting public health, preventing
polluted  runoff, and ensuring accountability. Some of
the specific actions called for in this Action Plan are
identified below.

                                       clean water action plan '")'i Wlh
Improve Assurance that Fish
and Shell fish are Safe to Eat

Federal agencies will work with states and tribes to
expand programs to reduce contaminants that can make
locally caught fish and shellfish unsafe to eat, particularly
mercury and other persistent, bio-accumulative toxic
pollutants, and to ensure that the public gets clear
notice of fish consumption risks.

Ensure Safe Beaches

Federal, state, and local governments will work to improve
the capacity to monitor water quality at beaches, develop
new standards, and use new technologies such as the
internet to report public health risks to recreational swimmers.

Expand Control of Storm Water Runoff

EPA will publish final Phase II storm water regulations for
smaller cities and construction sites  in  1999. EPA will also
work with its partners to make sure that existing storm
water control requirements for large urban and industrial
areas are implemented.

Improve State and Tribal Enforceable
Authorities to Address Polluted Runoff

Federal agencies will work with states and tribes to
promote the establishment of state  and tribal enforceable
authorities to ensure the implementation of polluted
runoff controls by the year 2000.

Define Nutrient Reduction Coals

EPA will establish by the year 2000 numeric criteria for
nutrients (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) that reflect the
different types of water bodies (e.g., lakes, rivers, and
estuaries) and different ecoregions of the country and
will assist states and tribes in adopting numeric water
quality standards based on these criteria.

Reduce Pollution from Animal Feeding Operations

EPA will publish and, after public comment, implement an
Animal Feeding Operations Strategy for important and
necessary actions on standards and permits. In addition, by
November 1998, EPA and USDA will jointly develop a broad,
unified national strategy to minimize the environmental and
public health impacts of Animal Feeding Operations.

Natural Resource Stewardship	

Nearly 70 percent of the United States, exclusive of Alaska,
is held in private ownership by millions of individuals. Fifty
percent, or 907 million acres, is owned by farmers, ranchers,
and their families. Another 400 million acres are federal
lands. Most of the rainfall in the country falls on these lands
before it enters rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Effective
management of these croplands, pastures, forests,
wetlands, rangelands, and other resources is key to
keeping clean water clean and restoring watersheds
where water quality is impaired.

This Action Plan commits all federal natural resource
conservation and environmental agencies to focus their
expertise and resources to support the watershed
approach described above. In addition, these agencies
will work with states, tribes, and others to enhance critical
natural resources essential to clean water.

Federal Land Stewardship

More than 800 million acres of the United States,
including Alaska, is federal land.These lands contain

                                    restore and protect watersheds
an immense diversity and wealth of natural resources,
including significant sources of drinking water and public
recreation opportunities.

By 1999, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and
USDA will take the lead in developing a Unified Federal
Policy to enhance watershed management for the
protection of water quality and the health of aquatic
systems on federal lands and for federal resource
management. Federal land managers will improve
water quality protection for over 2,000 miles of roads and
trails each year through 2005 and decommission 5,000
miles each year by 2002. Federal land managers will also
accelerate the cleanup rate of watersheds affected by
abandoned mines and will implement an accelerated
riparian stewardship program to improve or restore
25,000 miles of stream corridors by 2005.

Protect and Restore Wetlands

This Action Plan sets a goal of attaining a net increase of
100,000 wetland acres per year by the year 2005.This
goal will be achieved by ensuring that existing wetland
programs continue to slow the rate of wetland losses,
improving federal restoration programs, and by expand-
ing incentives to landowners to restore wetlands.

Protect Coastal Waters

Federal agencies, led by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),will work in partner-
ship to improve the monitoring of coastal waters, expand
research of emerging problems like Pfiesteria, amend
Fishery Management Plans to address water quality issues,
and ensure the implementation of strong programs to
reduce polluted  runoff to coastal waters.
Provide Incentives for Private Land Stewardship

This Action Plan relies on a substantial increase in the
technical and financial assistance available to private
landowners as the primary means of accelerating
progress toward reducing polluted runoff from
agricultural, range, and forest lands.

USDA, working with federal, state, tribal, and private
partners, will establish by 2002 two million miles of
conservation buffers to reduce polluted runoff and
protect watersheds, direct new funding for the
Environmental Quality Incentives Program to support
watershed restoration, and develop as many new agree-
ments with states as practicable to use the Conservation
Reserve Enhancement Program to improve watersheds.
The Plan also envisions new and innovative methods to
provide incentives for private landowners to implement
pollution prevention plans, including risk management
protection for adoption of new pollution prevention
technologies and market recognition for producers
that meet environmental goals.

In addition, DOI will expand its existing Partners for
Wildlife Program, which restores degraded fish and
wildlife habitats and improves water quality through
partnerships with landowners.The program provides
technical and financial assistance, and gives priority to
threatened and endangered species.

Informed Citizens and Officials	

Effective management of water resources requires reliable
information about water quality conditions and new tools
to communicate information to the public. Federal agen-

                                               clean watpr action plan ffi V'/"'T '//Ti?'
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Improvements in Connecticut River water quality have led to a resurgence in recreational fishing, especially
In urban vets like Hartford, which has been the site of major fishing tournaments in recent years.
        cies,led by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS),will work
        with states and tribes to improve monitoring and assess-
        ment of water quality, focusing on nutrients and related
        pollutants. Federal agencies will also work with states and
        tribes to develop and use state-of-the-art systems, such
        as EPA's Index of Watershed Indicators on the Internet, to
        communicate meaningful information to the public
        about water quality conditions in their communities.

        To support the new and expanded efforts to restore
        and protect the nation's waters as proposed in this
        Clean Water Action Plan, the President's FY1999 budget
        proposes a Clean Water and Watershed  Restoration
        Budget Initiative.The funding provided  in this budget
        initiative will dramatically increase federal financial
        support for clean water programs in FY 1999 and beyond.
        Specifically, the Clean Water and Watershed Restoration
        Budget Initiative will:
    • increase direct support to states and tribes to
      carry out a watershed approach to clean water;
    • increase technical and financial assistance to farm-
      ers, ranchers, and foresters to reduce polluted runoff
      and enhance the natural resources on their lands;
    • fund watershed assistance programs and grants
      to engage local communities and citizens in
      leadership roles in restoring their watersheds;
    • accelerate progress in addressing critical water
      quality problems on federal lands, including
      those  related to roads, abandoned mines,
      riparian areas, and rangelands;
    • expand and coordinate water quality monitoring
      programs; and
    • increase efforts to restore nationally significant
      watersheds, such as the Florida Everglades and
      the San Francisco Bay-Delta.

A Continuing Commitment to Clean Water
The publication of this Action Plan is just the beginning
of a long-term effort. Many of the proposed actions will
provide for later public review and comment and federal
agencies are committed to working closely with states,
tribes, and others to ensure successful implementation of
specific actions.

In addition, regular reports will keep the public apprised of
progress and remaining challenges. By the end of the year
2000 and periodically thereafter, status reports on progress
in implementing watershed restoration plans and related
programs will be provided to the President, the nation's
governors, tribal leaders, and the public.

                                           restore and protect watershe
Cleart Water and Watershed Restoration Budget Initiativi
         .• -.'•   '           . •'        .'.'   .-   -_••". •:  .--.-...'• . "  .  -"'::•"_ I ,:.•'  .'.. -'tntSK.'a^-^KMSoStrf^'W-

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Total 1999 Increase
Percent Increase 1999 over 1998
Total Increase 1999-2003
Total Spending 1999-2003
El-.-,- ...';- •' ../.. • ...... '.'. -.-_•
"•'.••••.. 	 -
           Funding by Agency

           Environmental Protection Agency:
           State Grant Assistance
               Polluted runoff control grants (Sec.319)
               State program management grants (Sec. 106)
               Wetlands protection grants
               Water quality cooperative agreements
           Water quality program management
                       "Total, EPA"          	

           Department of Agriculture:                   ,
           Natural Resources Conservation Service: Environmental Quality Incentives Program
           Natural Resources Conservation Service: Locally led conservation
           Natural Resources Conservation Service: Watershed health monitoring
           Forest Service: Improve water quality on federal lands
           Agriculture Research Service: Watershed health research
                        Total, USDA'  '"'

           Department of the Interior:
           Bureau of Land Management: Improve water quality on federal lands
           Office of Surface Mining: Clean streams
           US Geological Survey: Water monitoring and assessment
           Fish and Wildlife Service: Wetlands restoration
           Bureau of Indian Affairs: Improve water quality on tribal lands
           National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration:
           Polluted runoff and toxic contaminants
           Harmful algal blooms

           Army Corps of Engineers:
           Wetlands program
           Challenge 21: Floodplain restoration initiative
                        Total, ACE

           Interagency Projects:
           Florida Everglades
           California Bay Delta
           Elimination of overlap between Everglades and other water programs listed above
                        Total, Interagency Projects

           Total Clean Water and Watershed Restoration Initiative (with Mandatory Spending)

 indicates Mandatory Spending
    1,636           2,204

Source: Office of Management and Budget


                                       clean water action plar
       With the enactment of the Clean Water Act in 1972,
       the nation rejected past practices that had resulted in
widespread pollution of rivers, lakes, and coastal waters and
made a new commitment to restore and maintain the chemi-
cal, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters.

America has honored its commitment to clean water.
Since enactment of the Clean Water Act, the number of
waters that are safe for fishing and swimming has doubled.
National clean water standards stop billions of pounds
of industrial pollution from flowing into waters each year
and the number of Americans served by sewage treatment
facilities has more than doubled. Before 1972, Oregon's
Willamette River was off-limits to recreation.The Potomac
River near the nation's capital was badly polluted and unfit
for swimming.Today, these and many other water bodies
that were once severely polluted are well on the way to
recovery and people are increasingly using these waters
for fishing, swimming, and other recreation.

Despite impressive progress, many of the nation's rivers,
lakes, and coastal waters do not meet water quality goals.
Many waters that are now clean face the threat of degra-
dation from diverse pollution sources. States report that
close to 40 percent of the waters they surveyed are too
polluted for basic uses like fishing or swimming.The
success in cleaning up pollution from point sources (e.g.,
factories and sewage treatment plants) has not yet been
matched by controls over polluted runoff from sources
such as farms, urban areas, forestry, ranching, and mining
operations. Natural areas that are critical to the health of
aquatic systems, such as wetlands, stream corridors, and
coastal areas, are not adequately protected. In addition,
water pollution poses a continuing threat to public health.
The number offish consumption advisories and beach
closings is rising each year and new threats, such as the
toxic microorganism Pfiesteria, demand effective responses.

Restoring and Protecting America's Waters

On October 18,1997, the 25th anniversary of the enact-
ment of the Clean Water Act, the Vice President called
for a renewed effort to restore and protect water quality.
The Vice President asked that the Secretary of Agriculture
and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), working with other affected agencies,
develop a Clean Water Action Plan that builds on clean
water successes and addresses three major goals:

    (1) enhanced protection from public health
       threats posed by water pollution;
    (2) more effective control of polluted runoff; and
    (3) promotion of water quality protection on a
       watershed basis.

The Vice President called for the Clean Water Action  Plan
to be developed within 120 days and that it be based on
three principles. First, federal agencies are to develop
cooperative approaches that promote coordination and
reduce duplication among federal, state, and local agencies
and tribal governments wherever possible. Second,
agencies are to maximize the participation of community
groups and the public, placing particular emphasis on
ensuring community and public access to information
about water quality issues. Finally, agencies are to empha-

                                       clean water action plan iiltf't'i
size innovative approaches to pollution control, including
incentives, market-based mechanisms, and cooperative
partnerships with landowners and other private parties.

A Broad and Participatory Approach
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and EPA, in
collaboration with many other federal agencies, responded
to the Vice President's directive by establishing a broad,
participatory process to guide the development of this
Clean Water Action Plan.

Ten federal work groups, comprised of a large and diverse
membership representing all concerned federal agencies,
addressed major topics, including: watershed manage-
ment, reducing polluted runoff,agricultural initiatives,
public health, wetlands, coastal pollution, and monitoring
and assessment.The workgroups met frequently and
developed the recommendations that form the core
of this Action Plan.

On November?, 1997, USDA and EPA jointly published a
Federal Register notice (62 F.R. 60448, November 7,1997),
that contained the full text of the Vice President's
memorandum and invited the public to comment on
actions that the agencies should take in response to the
memorandum. About 150 commenters, including a full
range of citizens and community groups, business organi-
zations, government, and others responded to the notice.

Representatives of USDA, EPA, and other federal agencies
also held meetings to elicit public comment in Atlanta,
Georgia; Columbia, Missouri; and Sacramento, California.
Federal agencies also had numerous informal meetings
and consultations with state, tribal, and local government
leaders, elected officials, representatives of affected
groups, and citizens.

Most commenters concurred with the broad goals
defined in the Vice President's memorandum.Their
comments addressed various topics, and reflected the
following themes:

    •  Watersheds provide an appropriate focus for
      future efforts to restore and protect water
      quality. Many commenters noted that people
      will participate most readily and actively in
      protecting the quality of waters in areas where
      they and their families live and work.
    •  The Clean Water Action Plan should rely as
      much as possible on existing frameworks,
      programs, and mechanisms. Existing programs
      should generally be enhanced and made more
      effective, but not eliminated or replaced.
      Increased funding was also recommended by
      many as important to clean water efforts.
    •  The federal government should continue its
      emphasis on achieving polluted runoff
      prevention goals. A number of commenters
      noted the importance of reducing polluted
      runoff through voluntary programs and incen-
      tives. Other commenters stressed the impor-
      tant role that state, tribal, and local enforceable
      authorities and increased monitoring play in
      ensuring that best management practices are
      implemented to reduce polluted runoff. Finally,
      many commenters identified significant gaps in

                                      clean water action plan ^/£
      the Clean Water Act's authority for
      addressing polluted runoff.

Based on the work of the interagency workgroups and
comments from the public, USDA, EPA, and other federal
agencies developed this Action Plan.

The Clean Water Action Plan:
Beginning a Process	

The submission of this Clean Water Action Plan begins
a process; it does not end one.The Vice President specifi-
cally asked the federal agencies to establish a national
consensus on the issues highlighted in the Action Plan.

Many of the elements of this Action Plan provide for
additional development of information, assessment,
and dialogue.These processes will assure multiple
opportunities for input by the public before significant
decisions are made.
In addition to providing opportunities for input on
specific action items, the Action Plan calls for publication
of reports on overall progress of the new initiative in
restoring and protecting the nation's watersheds.
Progress reports are to be presented to the President, the
nation's governors, tribal leaders, and to the public at the
end of the year 2000 and periodically thereafter.

                                           clean water action plan
Setting the Stage:  Successes, Challenges.  andNen

              For the past 25 years, federal, state, territorial,
              tribal, and local governments have worked with
      the public and businesses to implement a variety of
      programs to improve the quality of the nation's water
      resources, including programs established by the Clean
      Water Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, the 1990
      and 1996 Farm Bills, and other laws.These efforts have
      resulted in a dramatic reduction in water pollution and,
      in many cases, a rebirth of the diverse environmental,
      recreational, and economic values of many of the nation's
      most treasured waters.

      At the same time, serious water pollution problems
      persist throughout the country. Water pollution today
                                           degrades the
  "Water is l^ost critical resource issue
                                     quality of
                                     rivers, lakes
                                     and coastal
                                     waters, but
                                     also affects
                                     quality of life
                                     by reducing
recreational opportunities, undermining local economic
prosperity, and threatening drinking water supplies and
public health.

Clean Water Successes	
All Americans can be proud of the progress the nation
has made toward clean water over the past 25 years:
    • In 1972, most estimates were that only 30 to
      40 percent of assessed waters met water
      quality goals such as being safe for fishing and
      swimming.Today, state monitoring data indicate
      that between 60 to 70 percent of assessed
      waters meet state water quality goals.
    • Twenty-five years ago, wetland losses were
      estimated at 460,000 acres each year.Today,
      wetland losses are estimated to be about
      one-fourth of that rate.
    •  Since 1982, soil erosion from cropland has
      been reduced by more than one-third, saving
      over a billion tons of soil each year and
      substantially reducing sediments, nutrients,
      and other pollutants that reach streams, lakes,
      and rivers.
    •  Twenty five years ago, sewage treatment
      plants served only 85 million people.Today,
      the number of people who have access to
      adequate wastewater treatment facilities has
      more than doubled, to 173 million people.
    • Compliance with national standards for
      discharges from industrial facilities result in
      the removal of billions of pounds of pollutants
      from wastewater each year.
Describing water quality accomplishments purely in terms
of statistics, however, does not do them justice and leaves
much unsaid. Many Americans can still remember the
disastrous condition of many of the nation's waters before
the Clean Water Act. A stench rose from Lake Erie. People
said the Androscoggin River in Maine was "too thick to

                                            restore and protect watersheds CttflttT I
In 1997, growing numbers of recreational enthusiasts are returning to the Androscoggin
River to canoe, kayak, and raft. In 1977, man rows on the Androscoggin contaminated
with inadequately treated sewage and discharges from paper mills.
        paddle and too thin to plow." The Connecticut River was
        thought of as "the best-landscaped sewer in the country."
        Oregon's Willamette River was off limits to recreation and
        the mighty salmon perished. Boston Harbor was called
        "America's dirtiest harbor." And the Cuyahoga River
        burned.Today,these waters are well on the way to
        recovery and forms an individual piece of the larger
        success story of the Clean Water Act.

        Economic Benefits of Clean Water	
        Improvements in water quality not only convey aesthetic
        benefits, but they also generate jobs and economic growth.

        The recreation and tourism industry is the second
        largest employer in the nation. A significant portion
        of recreational spending comes from water-related
        activities, such as swimming, boating, sport fishing, and
        hunting. Each year, Americans take more than  1.8 billion
        trips to water destinations, largely for recreation.
             spending money and creating jobs in the
             process. American anglers, who depend on
             clean water, spend roughly $24 billion
             annually on their sport, generating $69
             billion for the nation's economy.

             The commercial fish and shellfishing industry
                              contributes $45 billion
                              to the economy.This
                              industry also relies on
                              clean water to sustain
                              the fisheries and deliver
                              products that are safe to
                              eat. Farmers use clean
                              water to irrigate about
15 percent of American farmlands to grow essential
food and fiber. Crops grown on irrigated lands are
valued at nearly $70 billion a year — about 40 percent
of the total value of all crops sold.

Water quality improvements have led to  economic
gains on even the most infamous of polluted waters.
Lake Erie is recovering from a time when pollution
levels soared and beach closures were common.Today,
Lake Erie supports a $600-million-per-year fishing
industry. Along  the Willamette River in Oregon, water
quality improvements have again made possible
boating, skiing, swimming, and fishing. And, after the
fire on the Cuyahoga River, much work has been done
to revitalize this once-polluted urban river. Now the
harbor area where the Cuyahoga River and Lake Erie
meet is bustling with pleasure boaters and tourists,
generating substantial economic revenue for the City
of Cleveland.

                                               clean water action plan CHiffih
       Foundations of Success
       The progress to date in reducing water pollution is largely
       the result of the aggressive implementation of a wide
       array of programs created by the 1972 Clean Water Act
       and other laws. Although some of the most dramatic
       successes have come from control of discharges from
       sewage treatment and industrial facilities, all levels of
       government, the private sector, and concerned citizens,
       have played essential roles in reducing water pollution.

       Improving Sewage Treatment
       Perhaps the single biggest reason for the dramatic
       progress in reducing water pollution is the remarkable
       improvement in the treatment of municipal wastewater.
       When left untreated, raw sewage, wastewater, and street
       debris can spill into waterways, degrading water quality,
       imposing a danger to public health, impairing recreational
       activities, and limiting commercial fishing and shellfishing.

Potomac River:  The Jewel of the Nation's Capital

     Twenty-five years ago, the Potomac River frequently carried
     raw sewage through the nation's capital. Disease-causing bacteria
     and nuisance algae blooms plagued the Potomac. Fish kills and
     public health warnings were common. As a result of dramatic
     improvements in sewage treatment, funded in large part by the
     Clean Water Act, fish and wildlife are returning to the Potomac
     Fall-migrating waterfowl, absent in the estuary for 15 winters,
     have returned and lengthened their stay. Residents and visitors
     regularly enjoy walking and jogging its banks, fishing, windsurfing,
     and water skiing. Annual benefits from water pollution control
     investments are estimated to be worth $90-150 million.
The Potomac River in the nation's capital is much cleaner than before.

 Federal, state, tribal, and local governments made this
 success possible by investing close to $100 billion since
 1972. But perhaps more important than providing funds,
 the Clean Water Act provided uniform national treatment
 standards (i.e., secondary treatment) for all sewage treatment
 systems across the country.This national commitment to
 a single sewage treatment goal helped overcome extended
 debates over treatment levels and forged a partnership
 among engineering professionals, construction contractors,
 and government that became the foundation for the
 successful construction of almost 14,000 municipal
 sewage treatment facilities.

 Controlling Industrial Waste

 Progress in improving water quality does not result
 from sewage treatment alone. Controls over thousands
 of industrial discharges were imposed at the same time
 that municipalities were improving sewage treatment
 facilities nationwide.

 Today, more than 50 major categories of industry comply
 with national, minimum standards for the discharge of

                                              restore and protect watersheds C
                                              ™™~««-«.'— ™
        conventional and toxic pollutants. Compliance with these
        national standards results in the removal of billions of
        pounds of conventional pollutants and more than one
        billion pounds of toxic water pollutants from industrial
        discharges each year.

        Other Clean Water Act Programs
        Federal agencies work with states, territories, tribes, and
        local governments to implement a number of other clean
        water programs that have made vital contributions to
        maintaining and improving water quality.
             • The Clean Water Act requires that sewage
               treatment plants, industries, and other
               pollution dischargers have discharge permits.
               In most states and territories, EPA has
               authorized states to issue these permits. Where
               national minimum treatment standards are
               not strict enough to ensure that a water body
               meets its goals, these permits require additional
               treatment. By enforcing these requirements.
       states and the federal government protect
       public health and the environment.
     •  States and a number of tribes are organized to
       implement programs under section 319 of the
       Clean Water Act to reduce polluted runoff from
       "nonpoinf'or diffuse sources. A wide variety
       of activities under way by states and tribes
       are successfully addressing water quality
       problems caused by nonpoint source pollution.
     •  Local, state, tribal, and federal governments
       oversee programs to ensure industries
       discharging into sewage treatment plants
       "pretreat"their waste to remove pollutants
       that pose a threat to water quality or to the
       safe operation of the plant.

Conservation of Agricultural and Forest Land
USDA oversees several conservation programs that
reduce soil erosion, prevent pollution of streams and
lakes, improve water quality, establish aquatic life and
wildlife habitats, and enhance forest and wetland
Reducing Industrial Pollution                                                                              ~~
S.            - - ,              -  . -    .         - -           - -         -         • -
     In 1987, EPA issued national standards limiting the discharge of pollutants from the organic chemicals, plastics, and synthetic fibers
U,  Industries^ These industries include laafities iiatmanufacture such products as industrial-grade coal tar, natural gas, and petroleum-based
-;   organic chemicals, Approximately 1,000 of these facilities are in the United States—mainly located'in coastal regions or on waterways near
     targe population centers.
5-,    EPA set limits on the discharge of more than 60 pollutants, including a variety of organic pollutants, heavy metals and cyanide. EPA
-    estimated that these national standards were responsible for reducing pollutant discharges of conventional pollutants by 108 million pounds
p   annually and toxic pollutants by almost 24 million pounds annually.

                                        dean water action plan
                                                  '/*7 yy//7/"
resources. Many federal lands and watersheds, such as
national forests, parks, grasslands, and wildlife refuges,
represent some of the nation's most pristine and valuable
natural resources. Federal land managers are responsible
for protecting these waters.

Programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program
and the Wetlands Reserve Program encourage farmers to
restore environmentally sensitive acres.The Conservation
Reserve Program encourages farmers to convert highly
erodible cropland or other environmentally sensitive
acreage to vegetative cover, such as tame or native
grasses, wildlife plantings, trees, filter strips, or riparian
buffers. Currently, this program protects and restores up
to 36.4 million acres of the most highly erodible and
environmentally sensitive agricultural lands.The Wetlands
Reserve Program is a voluntary program to restore and
protect wetlands on private property. It provides landown-
ers financial incentives through purchase of easements
and cost-sharing agreements to restore wetlands on their
lands. Nearly one million acres of wetlands are scheduled
for restoration under this program by the year 2002.

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program provide landowners with
technical, educational, and financial assistance to improve
the management of their operations to prevent pollution
and enhance wildlife habitatThese programs help producers
improve their management of nutrients and pesticides,
reduce erosion, and adopt innovative grazing management
systems and other practices to protect water quality and
wildlife habitat. More than 35 million acres of agricultural
land will be protected through these programs by 2002.
Forests provide critical buffers to the nation's streams and lakes.

Through a partnership with state foresters, the Forest
Stewardship Program has helped landowners develop
comprehensive plans for millions of acres of private forest
lands since 1990. Other cooperative  programs, such as
Forest Legacy and the Urban and Community Forestry
Program, help conserve forests threatened by growth
and development and restore valuable forests in urban
watersheds.To date, more than 100,000 acres have been
protected under conservation easements through the
Forestry Legacy Program. Urban forestry assistance has
been provided to thousands of communities through
programs such as the Urban Resources Partnership.
Through cooperative efforts with states, tribes, and other
parties in specific watersheds such as Florida's Everglades,
the San Francisco Bay-Delta, the  Platte River Basin, the
Columbia Basin, the Pacific Northwest forests, and the
Colorado River Basin, federal land and resource managers
have focused attention and resources on resolving water
quality issues. For example, over 500 National Wildlife
Refuges totaling nearly 100 million acres support and
protect watersheds within their river basins.The 376 units

                                             restore and protect watersheds
        of the National Park System include some of the nation's
        most pristine waters. Federal land managers are responsi-
        ble for protecting over 180,000 miles of riparian streams,
        and 16 million acres of wetlands are protected within the
        270 million acres managed by the Bureau of Land
        Management (BLM) in 10 western states and Alaska.
        Federal land managers have undertaken hundreds of
        actions to build watershed partnerships, improve the
        delivery of federal programs, and pioneer watershed and
        ecosystem approaches to land management and
        pollution prevention on federal lands.

        Protecting and Restoring Coastal Waters
        A number of programs have been established to protect
        and restore coastal resources. In addition to the general
        water pollution control programs  under the Clean
        Water Act, the National  Oceanic and Atmospheric
        Administration (NOAA) in the Department of Commerce
        implements a range of programs to protect coastal
        waters and works with coastal states to implement
        programs to protect coastal resources under the
        Coastal Zone Management Act.
Recognizing the seriousness and magnitude of polluted
runoff in the degradation of coastal resources and
water quality, Congress enacted legislation in 1990
expanding the coastal zone management program
to specifically address polluted runoff in coastal areas.
Today, 29 coastal states and territories have developed
programs to prevent polluted runoff to coastal waters;
NOAA and EPA have approved most of these, with
conditions for further improvements.

Additionally, in 1987, the Clean Water Act was amended
to establish the National Estuary Program to protect and
restore the health of estuaries and to support economic
and recreational activities.The program brings together a
wide variety of stakeholders to provide for the health of
the estuary. Currently, 28 estuary programs around the
country are demonstrating practical and innovative ways
to revitalize and protect their estuaries.

Protecting Wetlands

Wetlands are essential to protecting  water quality and
health of aquatic systems.The United States is continuing
Restoring the Florida Everglades               	
     The Everglades is one of the nation's unique national treasures, whose natural systems sustain South Florida's economy and quality of life. Over
     the past century, changes in land and water use have altered the flow and content of the water that has sustained south Florida and resulted
     in the loss of over half of the original Everglades. The restoration of this 60-mile-wide and 300-mile-long watershed is the largest ecosystem
     restoration effort ever undertaken and is one of the Administration's highest priorities. In partnership with the State of Florida and tribal and
     local governments, the Administration is working to improve water quality, restore natural hydropatterns, and reduce the loss of water from the
     watershed to meet the needs of the environment and the economy. This effort serves as a model for the coordination of federal agency activi-
     ties and the involvement of government, public, and private interests in improving water quality and quantity problems in a watershed.

                                        clean water action plan
to lose wetlands, but the loss has slowed to a rate
well below that experienced in the 1970s and 1980s,
according to reports from the USDA and the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service.

Factors contributing to the marked decline in the loss
rate include implementation and enforcement of the
wetlands permitting program of the Clean Water Act;
state, tribal, and local wetland regulatory programs;
increased public awareness and support for conservation;
expansion of federal, state, tribal, local, and private-
sector restoration programs that have contributed
78,000 acres a year to the national wetlands base;
enactment of Swampbuster, Wetlands Reserve, and
Conservation Reserve measures in the Farm Bills since
1985; and a decline in the profitability of converting
wetlands brought about by 1986 tax reform.

Today's Water Quality Challenges
Despite significant progress in reducing water pollution,
serious water quality problems persist throughout the
country.The bottom line of the assessments described
below is that about 1,000 of the over 2,000 watersheds
nationally are in need of restoration and protection efforts
in order to meet clean water goals.

Too Many Waters Are Impaired
Every two years, states report on the condition of their
waters and the EPA provides a summary report of this
information to Congress. In 1996, the states found that:
     • Of the rivers and streams surveyed (19 percent
       of all stream miles), 36 percent were partially
Boardwalk through wetlands in a wildlife refuge.

      or fully impaired and water quality threatened
      in an additional eight percent.
    •  Of the surveyed lakes (40 percent of all
      lake acres), 39 percent were partially or fully
      impaired, with water quality threatened in
      an additional 10 percent.
    •  Of the estuaries surveyed by coastal states
      (72 percent of all estuarine waters) 38 percent
      are reported to be partially or fully impaired,
      with water quality threatened in an additional
      four percent.
    •  Of the Great Lakes shore miles surveyed
      (94 percent of all shore miles), 97 percent
      were reported to be partially or fully impaired,
      with water quality threatened in an additional
      one percent.
Based on water quality monitoring, states and tribes identi-
fy water bodies that do not meet or are not expected to
meet water quality standards even after implementation of
national minimum controls over sewage and industrial dis-
charges. In 1996, states and tribes identified about 15,000

                                            restore and protect watersheds C
      "Congratulatibns on getting the'lndex of Watershed
     Indicators on the Internet. I feel that providing public
,,  Information on environmental conditions and trends mm
.. '  •-" '•'-.-•- *-»  •"•"- :----^-_ :•'-•-.:_,".•«>•.'-,»-..-. ^•^fjti^^af^.S^f
*,   -.ofthe r/iostvjjlyablesejycesHQcafrprjwfafyl!^
    --"•  -l^^^r'^-'-^f^^^^^*^
-;-*> -~~  *:m If see more^gf this typ
                                   clean water action plan
tions over the last 20 years, several metals (e.g.,
arsenic and zinc) exhibit increasing trends.

NOAA conducts extensive monitoring of coastal
waters and of living resources that rely on these
waters. NOAA's Status and Trends program
and other reports indicate that habitat loss,
pollution, and over-fishing have reduced
populations of coastal fish and other species
to historically low levels of abundance and
diversity. Rapid population growth and
increasing demand for recreation and
economic development in many coastal areas
have degraded natural resources  and have led
to declines in both environmental integrity and
general productivity.

Contamination of the nation's waters from
atmospheric sources is a pervasive and complex
problem. Not only are the sources of toxic
contaminants in the air diverse - including fossil
fuel combustion, incinerators, mobile sources,
and industrial and agricultural activity - but
wind currents often carry these substances
for long distances before they are deposited. As
much as 90 percent of certain toxic pollutants
in the Great Lakes has
been attributed to
airborne deposition.
                          Environment and Natural Resources, is designed
                          to coordinate and integrate agency efforts and
                          to improve the scientific information base
                          and other natural resource assessment and

                    Polluted Runoff is the Most
                    Important Source of Water Pollution

                    Leading causes of water quality impairments  reported
                    by states include siltation, nutrients, bacteria, oxygen-
                    depleting substances, metals, habitat alteration,
                    pesticides, and organic toxic chemicals.The majority
                    of this pollution results from polluted runoff (see table
                    below). Nationally, agriculture is the most extensive
                    source of water pollution, affecting 70 percent of
                    impaired rivers and streams and 49 percent of impaired
                    lake acres. Other national or regional sources  include
                    municipal point sources, hydrologic and habitat modifica-
                    tion, urban runoff and storm water, resource extraction,
                    removal of streamside vegetation, and forestry.
                    Water pollution clearly degrades environmental quality, but
                    it also diminishes recreational and economic opportunities
The Environmental Monitoring
and Research Initiative, orga-
nized through the National
Science and Technology
Council's Committee on
     jj *          *
  Municipal PolntSdurces -
  Hydrologic Modificati6n,
   Habitat (^edification
Urban Riinoff/Storm Sewers
        Agriculture     " •
Unspecified ftonpaint Sources
  Atmospheric Deposition
 Urb'an Runoff/Storm Sewers -
  ' Municipal Point Sources
   Industrial Discharges
Urban Runoff/Storm Sewer:
  Municipal Point Sources,
   i Upstream Sources
                                    Source Based on 1996 section 30S(b) reports submitted by states, tribes, territories, interstate commissions, and the District of Coluir
                                                .  9

                                     restore and protect watersheds t'
and poses clear threats to public health.There is growing
evidence that degradation of rivers, lakes, and coastal
waters takes a toll on recreation and the economy.

    • In the Gulf of Mexico, a hypoxiczone (an
      area with low levels of oxygen), threatens the
      livelihood of fishermen.The area is affected
      by excess amounts of nutrients from the
      Mississippi River watershed, which ultimately
      drains into the Gulf of Mexico.

    • Of the nation's 382 million acres of croplands,
      over 70 million acres suffer erosion rates that
      threaten long-term productivity. Poor land
      management and agricultural practices directly
      affect hundreds of thousands of the nation's
      surface waters.

    • Polluted runoff from urban and agricultural
      areas adds sediment into waters that carry it
      downstream and deposit it into harbors or
      reservoirs. Federal and non-federal dredging
      in coastal areas and the disposal of dredged
      materials costs about $1 billion per year.

Perhaps most important, there is growing recognition
that water pollution poses serious threats to public health.

    • In certain Maryland and Virginia tributaries to
      the Chesapeake Bay and in the Neuse River in
      North Carolina, the microorganism Pfiesteria
      has killed fish and may pose a risk to people.
      Other harmful algal blooms and biotoxins have
      also affected the health and taken the lives of
      people, in addition to harming fish, shellfish,
      and other wildlife. Pfiesteria and harmful algal
      blooms have been associated with excessive
      nutrients in water.
    • People have become sickened and as many
      as TOO have died in Milwaukee from ingesting
      Cryptosporidium, a disease-causing microor-
      ganism in drinking water.

    • In 1996,2,193 fish consumption advisories
      were issued in 48 states. Mercury, PCBs,
      chlordane,dioxin,and DDT were responsible for
      almost all fish consumption advisories in 1996.

    • Coastal states report unhealthy levels of
      pollution-related bacteria at swimming
      beaches; there were more than 2,500
      beach closings and advisories in  1996.
      Illnesses caused by these bacteria are of
      special concern to families with children.

    • Polluted runoff and discharges from thousands
      of abandoned mines cause water quality
      degradation, diminish recreational uses,
      threaten drinking water sources, and harm
      fish and wildlife habitat.

A New Institutional Arrangement	
Today, federal, state,tribal, and local governments
manage a complex array of programs to identify,
restore, and protect watersheds and to  monitor progress
toward clean water goals. New federal programs have
been enacted through the Safe Drinking Water Act,
the 1996 Farm Bill, coastal nonpoint source programs
under the Coastal Zone Management Act, and state
nonpoint source programs under the Clean Water Act

                                      clean water artinn plan
need to be better integrated with existing programs
to protect and restore watersheds. In addition, hundreds
of watershed partnerships that have sprung up across
the country to address a multiplicity of water quality
and natural resource concerns are often implemented
independently and miss opportunities to leverage
resources and talent. Businesses are increasingly
marshaling their resources and expertise to prevent
pollution and solve local environmental problems.

These developments create new opportunities to.achieve
clean water goals faster and more effectively.This Action
Plan outlines a new institutional arrangement to bring all
these resources together in creative ways to solve this
nation's remaining water pollution problems.

In 1972, responding to public outrage over the deplorable
condition of the nation's waters, Congress enacted the
Clean Water Act. America's clean water program has been a
spectacular success - perhaps one of the best examples in
the post-war era of the power of the government to do
good.This success is largely the result of an aggressive
policy for restoring  and protecting clean water that was
established in "\ 972 and that essentially has remained
unchanged for 25 years.

The basic approach in the Clean Water Act for the last 25
years has been successively more stringent control of
"point sources" of water pollution — primarily factories
and city sewers, along with controls on activities that
destroy wetlands. In the last decade, Clean Water Act
authorities have been strengthened several times by
complementary changes and events.These include
changes in federal farm policies to substantially
improve technical and financial assistance to farmers to
protect the environment, new changes in federal land
management policies to increase protection of aquatic
resources and watersheds, new authorities to protect
coastal waters, and a rise in the number of broad-based
watershed organizations.

The 25th anniversary of the Clean Water Act is a good
opportunity to reflect on the past and on the road ahead.
What has been accomplished? What still needs to be
done? What worked well and what can be improved?
How have science and society changed and do these
changes offer ways to do things better? Asking these
questions about the national clean water program
suggests some general principles to guide clean water
efforts in the future.

Ten key principles to guide clean water efforts in the
years to come are described below.These principles
provide an overall context for the specific initiatives
proposed in this Clean Water Action Plan and for
investments of additional federal funds proposed in the
FY 1999 Clean Water and Watershed Restoration
Initiative. Several principles reaffirm key elements of the
clean water program defined in 1972.Taken together,
however, these principles suggest a new course for the
nation's clean water program and its evolution based on
assessment of past experience and anticipated changes
in the broader arena in which it will operate.

                                              restore and protect watersheds ul(?M(T I
        1. Strong Clean Water Standards	

        The strong clean water standards established in the 1972
        Clean Water Act and other subsequent statutes have
        served the nation well. Government, industry, and the
        public have made the Clean Water Act work; a renewed
        commitment to these baseline programs will  be a key
        part of finishing the cleanup of the nation's waters.

        National minimum standards that limit pollution from
        sewage treatment plants and factories have resulted in
        most of the nation's progress in reducing water pollution.
        These national standards ensure that every discharger
        meets or beats the performance of the best technology
        available. With these national standards in place, local areas
        are not asked to choose  between clean water and keeping
        jobs, and industries do not threaten to relocate if asked
        to clean up water pollution. Further, national sewage
Biver Action Teams—Catalyst for Watershed Restoration
                                                             treatment standards make sure that every community
                                                             does its fair share to clean up waters. Preserving these
                                                             standards and establishing national standards for additional
                                                             industrial categories are critical to maintaining progress in
                                                             cleaning up the water.
The Tennessee Valley Authority's Clean Water Initiative is helping communities set and
achieve local goals for watershed improvement through River Action Teams assigned to each
of the region's 12 watersheds. These teams serve as a catalyst for local action. They help to
bring stakeholders together, identify problems, build support for solutions, secure technical
and financial resources, or do whatever elsemay'benecessary to enable the community
to address water resource problems. TVA's Wheeler-Elk River Action Team, for example, has
garnered the support and participation of landowners and 20 different agencies and orga-
nizations In efforts to enhance water quality in the Paint: Rock River in northern Alabama.
The river contains 98 fish and 44 mussel species, many threatened by sedimentaiionJhe
cooperative initiative involves stabilizing stream banks, implementing best management
practices, and increasing public awareness.
EPA has defined water quality "criteria" for over 100 specific
water pollutants.These criteria draw on the best science
to ensure that a water body is clean enough for basic uses
established by the state (e.g., fishing, swimming). States
and tribes use these criteria as the basis for adopting
enforceable water quality standards for specific pollutants.
EPA reviews and approves or disapproves the standards.
Now that many pollution sources have implemented basic
treatment requirements, water quality standards will play a
critical role in defining problem areas and setting pollution
reduction goals. EPA will develop strong criteria for nitro-
gen and phosphorus that protect public health and the
                    environment; expand efforts to
                    assess the overall health of waters;
               t     and work with states and tribes to
               =     assure the adoption of a full set of
               i     needed water quality standards.
                    The enforceable mechanism for
                    implementing water pollution
                    control requirements is the
                    discharge permit required under
                    the Clean Water Act. For the past
                    decade, most discharge permits
                    have been issued by state agencies
                    with oversight by EPA. Discharge
                    permits are a proven tool for reducing
                    water pollution. Existing permits

                                       clean water action plan
                                                         chaMer f
must be reviewed and revised in a timely manner and
key types of unpermitted discharges (e.g., certain animal
feeding operations, storm water discharges from
small cities and towns) must be brought into the
permit program.

2. Clean Water: Healthy People	

The primary objective of the Clean Water Act is to protect
the "chemical, physical and biological integrity of water."
Aggressive efforts to reduce water pollution over the
past 25 years have also had dramatic benefits for
public health. Advances in pollution control, medicine,
and science have swept aside the concerns  of past
generations that drinking water and swimming in a
lake or at the beach posed a risk of cholera, polio, and
other diseases.

Despite dramatic progress, water pollution still poses
serious threats to human health.The potential of polluted
runoff to cause serious illness is now better  understood.
Microorganisms, such as Pfiesteria and Cryptosporidium,
are recognized as threats to human health.There is
growing recognition of the value of keeping sources of
drinking water clean to reduce the need for treatment
and associated costs for treatment plants. In areas where
the fish are contaminated with mercury and other long-
lasting pollutants, states issue advisories recommending
that local populations or sensitive populations limit
fish consumption.Thanks to better monitoring, beach
closures as a result of water pollution threats to swim-
mers are increasing. Recent studies suggest  that some
water pollutants may be disrupting the endocrine
systems of aquatic species, wildlife, and humans.
To reduce human health threats from water,fish,and
shellfish,federal, state,territorial,tribal, and local govern-
ments must work together to more clearly establish and
enforce public health standards and programs. Employing
a watershed framework and improving coordination
between clean water and safe drinking water programs   ,
at all levels of government is a critical part of this effort.

3. Watershed Management:
   The Key to the Future	
For the past 25 years, most water pollution control efforts
relied on nationwide programs that addressed the biggest
sources of water pollution, such as discharges from sewage
treatment plants and factories.Today, however, there is a
growing recognition of the need to better coordinate the
implementation of national programs in specific geographic
areas. For water resources, watersheds provide an appropriate
geographic unit of management.

Watershed management fosters the coordinated
implementation of programs to control point source
discharges, reduce polluted runoff, and protect drinking
water and sensitive natural resources such as wetlands.
A watershed approach highlights opportunities to go
beyond reducing chemical contamination to think about
ways to enhance the overall health of the aquatic system
and preserve biodiversity. Watershed management also
fosters greater interest and involvement from the public
and provides a foundation for partnerships among
government, the public, and the private sector.

The successful evolution of clean water programs to a
watershed approach will require the commitment and
leadership of the states and tribes, many of which are now

                                             restore and protect watersheds I i
                                                                             i I
        moving toward the implementation of water quality
        programs on a watershed basis. As they have learned,
         integration of diverse clean water programs at the
        watershed level requires intimate knowledge of the
        environmental conditions in a watershed and the mix
        of agencies and institutions that must play a part in
        achieving a coordinated and comprehensive solution
        to problems. Federal agencies can provide technical and
        financial help to facilitate watershed management, but
        state and tribal leadership is essential to bring all levels
        of government, the private sector, and the public together
        to make watershed management work.

        Finally, if the clean water program is to make a transition
        to watershed management, the public must support this
        effort by getting actively involved in the formation of
watershed partnerships.Through such partnerships, roles
are clarified, resources are shared, and cost effective,
practical solutions are put in place. As a result, in
watershed after watershed, a better informed and more
involved public is committed to lasting environmental
improvements in their own communities. Federal
agencies, states, and tribes can support and promote
these efforts by providing improved information,
technical and financial assistance and training.

4. Restore Watersheds Not
   Meeting Clean Water Coals	

In 1972, water pollution seemed almost ubiquitous.Today,
although serious water quality problems remain, they are
increasingly found in discrete clusters or problem  areas.
Improved monitoring and recent advances in computer map-
Governors Endorse Watershed Management
      "Historically, this nation has approached water resources as isolated and categorical, with programs designed specifically for certain waters
      depending upon where they are found. Now we know that our water resources are part of an interrelated, hydrologic, and environmental
      system that demands systematic management. The governors believe that the future demands a new model for managing water resources,
      based on well-defined geographic units such as basins or watersheds that recognizes all the interconnections within the watershed that
      define the hydrologic cycle in that area, including surface and groundwaters as well as wetlands. ...
      A systems management approach would involve the development and operation of a comprehensive water resource management program
      — though ultimately it need not be limited to water resources within the specific geographic area encompassing the basin or watershed.
      Components of such a comprehensive program would include water supply, water quality, water conservation, flood protection, land use,
      and protection offish and wildlife resources. "
                                  — National Governors' Association Water Resources Management Policy Statement, February 1993

                                        clean water action nlan
ping or"georeferencing"of waters is making precise definition
of problem areas and sources much easier than in the past.

The Clean Water Act provides for states and tribes to
identify waters that do not meet water quality goals and
develop plans to reduce pollutants in the water bodies.
This effort was a low priority for many years while clean
water programs concentrated on getting basic controls in
place for major sources. EPA is working with states, tribes,
and other federal agencies to focus greater attention on
defining and restoring impaired waters that do not meet
clean water goals. States and tribes are developing revised
lists of waters not meeting clean water goals and long-
term schedules for developing corrective actions to be
submitted by EPA by April  1998. Federal land management
and natural resource agencies are pioneering watershed
assessment methods and locally led processes for addressing
water quality problems.

In the future, the national water program will "scaje up"
assessments of problem areas from localized pollution
problems in segments of water bodies to a larger land-
scape of watersheds.This process should grow beyond
assessment of whether chemical contamination exceeds
standards, to include other factors (e.g., health of wetlands,
sediment quality, drinking water sources) and an assess-
ment of whether the aquatic system in the watershed is
functioning properly.The assessment process should also
look to sources and impacts outside of the watershed itself,
and include an assessment of the biological attributes of
water resources.

Existing assessments of watershed health suggest that
about 1,000 watersheds — almost half of the watersheds
in the nation — have serious or moderate water quality
problems. A key goal of the nation's clean water program
will be to define the specific steps necessary to restore the
health of the aquatic systems in these watersheds and
marshall the public- and private-sector commitment to
implement needed actions.

5. Build Bridges Between Water Quality
   and Natural Resource Programs	
Much of the focus of the clean water program over the
past 25 years has been to reduce chemical contamination
of waters. Chemical contamination, however, addresses
just one element of the Clean Water Act's charge to "restore
and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity
of the nation's waters" (italics added). As the clean water
program moves to address problems on a watershed basis,
other impairments to aquatic systems (e.g., damage to fish
habitat, loss of wetlands that are nurseries of aquatic life,
stream corridor degradation) have become more obvious
and of greater concern.

Natural resources — croplands, forests, wetlands, range-
lands, and riparian areas — are the building blocks of
most watersheds.The health of the'nation's watersheds
and the quality of the water is a reflection of how well
those natural resources are cared for. Stewardship of
natural resources is the fundamental first step toward
clean water and pollution prevention.

Most of the land in watersheds is in the care of farmers,
ranchers, and federal land managers. Linking federal
natural resource conservation and federal land manage-
ment programs more closely with federal and state clean
water programs is a promising opportunity to quicken

                                            restore and protect watersheds CutMtT I
        the pace of clean water efforts across the country. Actions
        to enhance assistance to private landowners and to
        strengthen the stewardship of federal lands on a
        watershed basis are major elements of this Action Plan.

        A critical goal for pollution control and natural resource
        protection is to continue to slow the rate of wetlands
        loss nationwide and accomplish a net gain of at least
        100,000 acres of wetlands each year by the year 2005.
        The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has
        committed to an aggressive goal to establish two million
        miles of greenways along with buffers to prevent pollution
        and protect stream corridors.

        Other federal agencies, such as the Departments of the
        Interior, Energy, Defense, and Commerce, are working with
        states and tribes to manage and better protect natural
        resources. Building bridges between these water pollution
        control programs and natural resource programs will
        require improved coordination and communication among
        the responsible agencies.

Ihe NationalAcademyof SilencesFavorstetoratron
L   "Without an active and ambitious restoration program in the United States, our swelling
i	           '    	     	    	•	              :
I   population and its increasing stresses on aquatic ecosystems will certainly reduce the quality
t   of human life for present and future generations. By embarking now on a major national
r   aquatic system restoration programme United States can set an example of aquatic resource
t.          _                   .      ......                ....
I-	   stewardship that ultimately will set an international example of environmental leadership."
^ _,                                        "„,.",„_„".,„.....
i:                                           :-r- Restoration of[Aquatic Ecosystems,
p                                       •      :1NationarResearch Council
•"                                              National Academy of Sciences, 1992
6. Respond to Growth Pressures
   on Sensitive Coastal Waters	

In the early years of the clean water program, there was
little recognition that the coasts might need special
attention. With the exception of a small number of laws
such as the Coastal Zone Management Act, coastal
waters were generally managed like other waters.
Certain policies, such as waivers under the Clean Water
Act from secondary treatment for coastal discharges,
allowed for even less stringent control of pollution
discharged to coastal waters.

In the last decade, however, awareness of the vital role
that coastal waters and estuaries play in supporting
healthy fisheries has grown. In addition, the decline
of treasured resources, such as the Chesapeake Bay,
prompted greater recognition  of the threat to coastal
waters.The 1990 census provided striking new data on
the shift of the nation's population to coastal areas and
the sharp growth rates in these areas.  In response to this
new information and awareness, federal, tribal, and state
agencies have stepped up efforts to protect coastal waters
                     and expand efforts to understand,
                     prepare for, and address the
                     changes that will occur in coastal
                     areas. It is critical that the quality of
                     coastal waters is maintained and
                     improved so that those waters
                     can continue to
                     support the increasing numbers
                     of people who live, work, and play
                     on the coast, as well as those who
                     eat or otherwise enjoy coastal
                     living resources.

                                      clean water artirin plan f
7. Prevent Polluted Runoff
 After 25 years, the clean water program has addressed
 many of the major pipe discharges of sewage and
 industrial waste. By far, the predominant source of
 remaining water pollution problems is runoff from
 urban and agricultural lands and facilities such as
 animal feeding operations and mines. Watershed
 management holds promise for correcting the polluted
 runoff problems that now exist and, more importantly,
 to prevent polluted runoff in the first place.

 A critical challenge for the clean water program in
 the future will be to foster a national commitment to
 preventing polluted runoff. Some of the actions that
 will prevent polluted runoff are the responsibility of
 federal, state, tribal, and local governments. In many
 cases, however, the responsibility for preventing
 polluted runoff falls to individual citizens. Governments
 must pick up the pace of existing efforts to reduce
 polluted runoff and must provide the information and
 the financial incentives citizens  need to make
 decisions that support clean water.

8. Stewardship of Federal Lands
  and Resources        	
 Lands and resources managed by the federal govern-
 ment cover over 800 million acres and include many of
 the nation's most treasured water resources. In many
 watersheds, these lands are the  headwaters of streams
 and rivers and valued sources of clean water for sport
 fishing, recreation, and drinking  water. Policies for
 protecting and managing these lands must balance
 these diverse interests and needs. In  the past, water
 quality was not always a top priority. Federal agencies
 also manage other resources such as water, fisheries,
 and forests.

 Federal land and resource managers have made
 substantial contributions to watershed restoration
 and protection. Opportunities exist for building on
 many of the watershed projects already under way,
 such as aquatic and conservation elements of the
 Northwest Forest Plan and Columbia River Ecosystem
 Assessment, protection of Puget Sound and Lake Tahoe,
 the Tennessee Valley Authority's Clean Water Initiative,
 and protection of the Everglades.

 By further implementing a watershed approach, federal
 land managers can gain a greater understanding of
 watershed functions, promote the identification and
 targeting of priority projects, encourage greater stake-
 holder involvement, and build partnerships with states,
 tribes, and local governments.

9. Improve Water Information and
   Citizens9Right to Know	

 Information about the condition of waters was of interest,
 but of limited importance, in the early years of the
 clean water program. Much of the effort was devoted
to implementing pollution controls based  on national
 minimum standards (e.g., secondary treatment). Because
the implementation of these controls did not require
detailed information on water quality impacts, development
of information systems describing water quality became
a low priority. Also, many water pollution problems and
their sources were obvious.

                                   restore and protect watersheds
Today, as the clean water program moves to a water-
shed approach with a commitment to identify and
address the remaining water quality problem areas,
good information about the condition of waters and
the health of aquatic systems on a watershed scale is
absolutely critical. Federal, state, territorial, and tribal
governments and the private sector will need to make
increased investments in water quality information.
More important, existing monitoring programs and
resources can be better coordinated and focused
under the leadership of the National Council on
Water Quality Monitoring, recently established by
the Department of the Interior (DOI).

Better data is important, but this information needs
to be delivered to the public in a useful and easily
accessible form. Using new computer systems capable
of mapping water quality data, it is now possible to
                                     about the
"PublicInvolvement is crucial. This is the
 priority that [when overlooked] most
  impedes the achievement of goals."
      - Mark Bellwood, Saline County, Missouri
                                     condition of
                                     specific waters
                                     and watersheds
 around the country. In addition, the Internet makes it
 possible to deliver detailed and localized water quality
 data and maps to home computers throughout the
 nation. By providing this information and the assessment
 tools to make it meaningful, government agencies can
 inform people about the condition of waters where they
 live and thereby empower citizens to get involved in
 restoring and protecting water quality.
10. Ensure Compliance and
    Protect All Citizens Fairly	

Full and fair implementation of clean water programs
requires strong compliance and enforcement efforts and
a firm commitment to protect all citizens equally.

Sustaining compliance will require supplementing
existing tools with new efforts to ensure that program
requirements, especially newer programs to control wet-
weather sources of pollution, are understood by both
the regulated community and the public. For example,
working with its coastal state partners and through
public feedback, NOAA will continue to evaluate the
performance of state coastal management programs,
with new attention to programs designed to reduce
polluted runoff. EPA is working with states to establish
sector-based compliance assistance centers, including
one for municipalities. EPA and states will also pursue
incentives to encourage regulated entities to voluntarily
discover, disclose, and correct violations and adopt
comprehensive environmental management systems
to improve overall environmental performance.

EPA and the states, and to a growing extent, tribal govern-
ments, will continue to aggressively enforce compliance
where noncompliance is significant and to assure that
compliance rates improve overall. Escalation of enforce-
ment responses and assessment of appropriate penalties,
including recovery of economic benefit, will continue
as a cornerstone of these efforts. Criteria for defining
high-priority areas for enforcement will include high envi-
ronmental risk, disproportionately exposed populations,
high rates of noncompliance, and environmental justice.

                                        clean water action plan
                                                  "? '  'f ,f'~S
Federal agencies will expand efforts to work with states,
tribes, and minority communities to ensure that all
citizens enjoy the environmental and economic benefits
of clean water. A top priority will be better information
to minorities and immigrants about fish consumption
risks. Environmental justice will be considered when
setting priorities for restoration of waters and watersheds
and when allocating water pollution control funds.

•	DiiiJbAiMiht;^ "!•*         ,:"'v"    • •,':!...,'
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                                     -.... ,,i^^«wtesf;»s&w:^^s«lSFtSijf                 :,

                                             clean water action plan fh/lMfT II
                                                      warn    i
Actiom to Strengthen Core Clean Utiter Programs
                             o                                                 o
   "Water has a voice. It carries a message
   that tells those downstream who you are
       and how you carefor the land."' _
             — Bernie McGurl,
              ~ if.  "' "„  -w »•«.».—SwMjiwS
                Lackawanna River Association
       Federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local govern-
       ments work in close cooperation to implement a
wide range of programs to protect and restore water
quality. Over the past 25 years, the combined effect of these
efforts has been to restore the environmental, recreational,
and economic benefits of waters around the nation.

Implementation of existing programs at the current pace,
however, will not eliminate threats to public health and the
                                      health of
                                      aquatic sys-
                                      tems. If the
                                      nation is to
                                      continue to
                                      make steady
                                      progress in
water pollution, government,the private sector, and the
public must renew their commitment to the original goal
of the Clean Water Act — fishable, swimmable waters for all
Americans — and chart a new course to achieve that goal.

The centerpiece of this Action Plan is a new initiative to
integrate existing efforts to restore and protect water
quality and related natural resources on a watershed basis.
Organizing restoration and protection on a watershed
basis creates the opportunity to achieve clean water goals
in many more places, more quickly.This new initiative is
described in Chapter III.

At the same time, strengthening and enhancing existing
programs with specific new actions is an essential element
of a renewed effort to restore and protect water quality.
Many clean water programs are basically sound and effective.
These programs, however, need to be strengthened and
expanded to:

    • protect public health;
    • enhance stewardship of natural resources;
    • strengthen polluted runoff standards and
      controls; and
    • improve information and citizens'right to know.

Specific actions to immediately expand and improve
existing water quality programs are described below.
Implementation of these key actions by federal, tribal, and
state agencies is supported by a long-term commitment of
billions of dollars and is designed to support the watershed
work outlined in Chapter Ill.The FY1999 budget includes
a Clean Water and Watershed Restoration Initiative that
provides increased funding to support key elements of
this Action Plan.

People depend on clean water for their health and well-
being. Safe drinking water is critical to good health. While
most people get drinking water from a system that treats
it to ensure safety, there is growing recognition of the
value of protecting the  high quality of drinking water
sources. Recreational fishermen, low-income people,
ethnic minorities, and others who regularly catch and
consume fish and shellfish from nearby rivers, lakes, and
coastal waters are more highly exposed to mercury and
other pollutants.The greatest risk of harm exists for

                                            restore and protect wate*rsh?ck_nfflf)fW if
                                                            •'". •' I-'"-/-"' / '
Witw quaRtv Improvements have led to reopened shellfish beds in Greenwich Bay, Rhode Island,
providing an economic boost for the local shellfish industry.
       women of child-bearing age, as fetal nervous systems are
       more sensitive than adult systems.

       Millions of people enjoy the beach each year, but growing
       evidence indicates that sewage and other pollutants pose
       serious health risks to children and other recreational swim-
       mers. In addition, new research suggests that some water
       pollutants disrupt the endocrine systems of fish, wildlife, and
       humans, and are a threat to reproduction and development.

       Actions to ensure that the nation's waters support healthy
       people are needed in four key areas:

            (1) ensure effective public notice offish and
              shellfish consumption risks and reduce
              contamination to levels which assure
              that locally caught fish and shellfish are safe
              to eat on a regular basis;
            (2)  improve safeguards for the health of children
               and other recreational swimmers at beaches;
            (3)  ensure that sources of drinking water are
               adequately  protected; and
    (4) respond to the impact of endocrine
       disrupting chemicals on reproduction and
       development of fish, wildlife, and humans.

Improve Assurance that Fish
and Shellfish are Safe to Eat	
In 1996,2,193 public advisories restricting the consump-
tion of locally caught fish were in effect. States and tribes
issue advisories to notify and protect their citizens from
unsafe levels of contaminants in fish tissue that make the
fish unsafe to eat or unsafe to eat in large quantities.
Fish consumption advisories now apply to 15 percent of
the nation's lake acres and to five percent of river miles.
In addition, 100 percent of the Great Lakes and their
connecting waters, a large portion of the nation's
coastal waters, and about 20 percent of the National
Wildlife Refuges with fishing are also under fish
consumption advisories.

Although advisories in the United States have been
issued for a total of 45 chemicals, most include mercury.
As it cycles between the atmosphere, land, and water,
mercury  undergoes a series of complex chemical
and physical transformations.The Mercury Study
Report to Congress (December 1997) outlines these
scientific issues.

Cost-effective opportunities to deal with mercury during
the product lifecycle, rather than just at the point of
disposal, need to be pursued. A balanced strategy that
integrates end-of-pipe control technologies with material
substitution and separation, design-for-environment, and
fundamental  process change approaches is needed.

clean water acti
                                                             ction plan fh/l.t)tffi* II
                                                            ;'"', '' ^ 7 1'//*'*   !•'
                  EPA proposes to take the following actions in consultation
                  with other federal agencies and with the involvement of
                  states, tribes, and other stakeholders.
     In addition, international efforts to reduce mercury emis-
     sions as well as greenhouse gases will play an important
     role in reducing inputs to the global reservoir of mercury.

Mercury: A Complex Environmental Challenge
     Mercury cycles in the environment as a result of natural and human activities. The amount of mercury released into the biosphere
     has increased since the beginning of the industrial age. Mercury in the atmosphere can be transported thousands of miles from sources of
     emission and can circulate in the atmosphere for up to a year. Most of the mercury in water, soil, sediments, or plants and animals is in the
     form of inorganic mercury salts and organic mercury (e.g. methylmercury). The inorganic form of mercury, when either bound to airborne
     particles or in a gaseous form, is readily removed from the atmosphere by precipitation and is also dry deposited. As it cycles between the
     understood. Mercury accumulates most efficiently in the aquatic food web. Predatory organisms at the top of the food web generally have
     higher mercury concentrations. Nearly all of the mercury that accumulates in fish tissue is methylmercury.
      Fish consumption dominates the pathway for human and wildlife exposure to methylmercury. The Mercury Report to Congress supports a
      plausible link between anthropogenic releases of mercury from industrial and combustion sources in the United States and methylmercury in
      fish. However, these fish methylmercury concentrations also result from existing background concentrations of mercury (which may consist
      of mercury from natural sources, as well as mercury which has been re-emitted from the oceans or soils) and deposition from the global
      reservoir (which includes mercury emitted by other countries). Given the current scientific understanding of the environmental fate and
      transport of this element, it is not possible to quantify how much of the methylmercury in fish consumed by the U.S. population is contributed
      by U.S. emissions relative to other sources of mercury (such as natural sources and re-emissions from the global pool).

      The typical U.S. consumer eating fish from restaurants and grocery stores is not in danger of consuming harmful levels of methylmercury from
      fish and is not advised to limit fish consumption. The levels of methylmercury found in the most frequently consumed commercial fish
      are low, especially compared to levels that might be found in some non-commercial fish from fresh  water bodies that have been affected by
      mercury pollution. While most U.S. consumers need not be concerned about their exposure to methylmercury, some exposures may be of
      concern. Those who regularly and frequently consume large amounts offish — either marine species that typically have much higher levels
      of methylmercury than the rest of seafood, or freshwater fish that have been affected by mercury pollution — are more highly exposed.
      Because the developing fetus may be the most sensitive to the effects from methylmercury, women  of child-bearing age are regarded as the
      population of greatest interest.
                                                                 — ExcerptsfromtheMerc(//ySfu(/y/?e/3o/tfoCongre55,December1997,
                                                                          (Volume 1, Executive Summary), http://www.epa.gov/par/mercury.html

                               restore and protect watersheds flifJUlPF //
                                        r-~ ~,fYf~,'i--   j
Control emissions from air point sources. EPA has
taken several important steps to reduce the
levels of mercury and other pollutants in fish,
including reducing emissions from municipal
waste combustors and medical waste incinera-
tors. These actions, once fully implemented,
will reduce mercury emissions caused  by
human activities by 50 percent from 1990
levels. Actions to reduce emissions of
carbon dioxide to control climate change will
also have a significant co-benefit in reduced
mercury emissions. Additional work is being
done in EPA's Total Maximum Daily Load
(TMDL) program to evaluate the linkage  of air
emissions to water quality impacts, to help
determine appropriate reduction actions.

Water-related mercury actions. EPA will publish
new analytical methods for mercury, expand
compliance and enforcement activities for
direct and indirect dischargers of mercury into
surface waters, expand outreach to publicly
owned treatment works about preventing
mercury pollution in sewage discharges, and
revise water quality criteria development plans,
as appropriate.

Seek reductions in uses of mercury and improve
information and citizens' right to know. These
use-reduction measures will reduce the levels
of mercury in waste streams as well as the dan-
ger of accidental releases. Generally, EPA  will
look to voluntary rather than regulatory
approaches to reduce mercury use.
Additionally, EPA is considering changing the
reporting requirements for mercury under the
Toxic Release Inventory which could result in
additional reporting of mercury releases.

An environmentally acceptable disposal method
for mercury wastes designated as hazardous
wastes. This will allow many hazardous
mercury wastes to be safely treated and
permanently disposed, and therefore will
reduce the amount of mercury being recov-
ered (which is the current requirement) for
which there may be no demand.This will also
reduce emissions from the recovery processes.

Seek reduction in exposure to highly exposed
populations. Because it will take a long time
before reductions in mercury releases are
reflected in lower fish-tissue levels, EPA will
continue public information and outreach
programs, including continued support and
strengthening of the states'and tribes'fish
advisory programs.

Encourage international efforts to reduce
mercury releases. The global circulation of
mercury requires concerted efforts by all
countries to solve the mercury problem in
any one country.

Further research on all aspects of the mercury
problem. A research strategy will permit
targeting of federal research on the most
important data gaps.

                                       clean water action plan
   KEY ACTION: EPA and NOAA will conduct a
   national survey of mercury and other contaminant
   levels in fish and shellfish throughout the country
   during the period 1998-2000. This effort will be
I   coordinated with state and tribal efforts
I-  to maximize geographic coverage.
 Fish advisories have also been issued for other
 long-lasting toxic pollutants, including polychlorinated
 biphenyls (PCBs), chlordane, dioxins, and DDT, even
 though the use of PCBs, chlordane, and DDT was
 banned or drastically restricted many years ago. Many
 of these pollutants settle into the sediments where they
 can remain as a source of contamination well after
 the original source is controlled.

   KEY ACTION: By 1998, EPA will develop a multimedia
   strategy addressing mercury and other persistent,
   bioaccumulative, and toxic pollutants that cannot be
 ,  fully addressed through single media controls and
   approaches.The strategy will include enforcement
 :  and compliance efforts to address noncompliance
,   associated with contaminated fish and shellfish areas.

i   KEY ACTION: EPA will release its Contaminated
   Sediment Strategy that will coordinate its programs
   to address the following goals: (1) preventing the
   volume of contaminated sediment from increasing;
 •  (2) reducing the volume of existing contaminated
£  sediment; (3) ensuring that sediment dredging and
1   disposal are managed in an environmentally sound
 •  manner consistent with the needs of waterborne
I.                         '
1:'  commerce; and (4) developing scientifically sound
   sediment management tools for use in pollution
   prevention, source control, remediation, and
   dredged material management.

L  KEY ACTION: In 1998, EPA will initiate place-based
   contaminated sediment recovery demonstration
   projects in five watersheds selected from those
   identified in EPA's National Inventory of Sediment
   Quality as being of the greatest concern.
   Remediation efforts will be coordinated with
   federal natural resource trustees.
 Even with aggressive implementation of measures
 to reduce the levels of mercury and other pollutants
 that cause fish to be unsafe to eat, it will take many
 years to stop and then reverse the buildup of these
 pollutants. In the period before pollution reduction
 measures reduce pollutant levels in fish to safe levels,
 federal, state, and tribal agencies need to work together
 to ensure that the public has accurate information
 about the health risks of consuming fish from
 specific waters.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will work with NOAA and
   other federal agencies, states, tribes, and other
   interested parties to adopt, by December 1999,
   nationally consistent processes for monitoring
   water quality and fish tissue, and review EPA
;   guidelines for decision-making on issuance of
   fish consumption advisories. EPA will support
   state actions and, after consultation with the
   state, will issue fish consumption advisories if
   a state fails to do so.

                                             restore and protect wa1
           KEY ACTION: The Agency for Toxic Substances and
           Disease Registry (ATSDR) will contribute additional
           funding and coordinate epidemiology studies in
           the Great Lakes to improve understanding of
           the health effects associated with exposure to
           contaminants in locally caught fish.

           KEY ACTION: In 1998, EPA and ATSDR will develop
           a brochure in Spanish and Asian languages explain-
           ing how to reduce the health risks of exposure
           to contaminants in locally caught fish and shellfish.
           The brochure will be given to pediatricians, obstetri-
           cians, and health care organizations for distribution
           to the public, particularly women with children.

           KEY ACTION: In 1998, EPA and ATSDR will develop
           outreach materials for health care professionals.

Shellfish Harvests Resume in Navesink River, NJ
     The Havesink River in New Jersey was closed to shell fishing in the
     early 1970s because of extensive pollution from industrial, marina,
     and agricultural sources. A Memorandum of Understanding was
     signed by the New Jersey Departments of Environmental Protection
     and Agriculture, EPA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and
     12 county, municipal,  academic, and private organizations to
     restore recreational and commercial shellfish harvesting to the
     Navesink by reducing the amount of bacteria that enters the river.
     After years of implementing innovative pollution control measures,
     the Navesink was  re-opened to shellfishing in  1997 and now
     generates an estimated $10 million annually for the local economy.
   identifying the health risks of eating noncommercial
   fish and shellfish contaminated with PCBs and
   explaining how women and children can reduce
   these risks.
Contaminated shellfish or diseased fish stocks can have
serious repercussions for the seafood and aquaculture
industries and the public's faith in the quality of the food
supply. Current shellfish bed closures signal serious
regional problems with environmental contamination.
The 1995 National Shellfish Register reports that 6.7
million acres of shellfish-growing waters are restricted
nationally. For 72 percent of those (4.9 million acres),
water pollution was the cause.

   KEY ACTION:  In 1998, NOAA will report on the
   status of shellfish bed conditions nationally and
   the factors contributing to areas of harvest I imita-
   tion.This report will link shellfish bed conditions
   and watersheds for use in assessments.

   KEY ACTION:  EPA will direct enforcement and
   compliance assistance efforts, together with
   state and local authorities, at regulated sources
   contributing to conditions leading to closures
   of shellfish areas.These efforts will address
   sanitary sewer overflows, combined sewer
   overflows, storm water discharges, wet-weather
   discharges that contain substantial amounts of
   contaminants, and other point sources that are
   not discharging in compliance with applicable

                                        clean water action plan Cfifh
         y //
Ensure Beaches Are
Safe for Swimming
In 1996, over 2,500 beaches in the United States were
posted with warnings or closed for at least one day due
to bacteriological or other types of contamination. Many
other beaches, however, are either not monitored
adequately or not monitored at all. Illness can result
from swimming or playing in water that is contaminated
with disease-causing microorganisms. Illnesses range
from minor gastrointestinal upsets and skin rashes to
hepatitis and more severe infections. Children tend to
be at increased risk because of longer exposure times
and incidental ingestion.

The most frequent sources of recreational water contami-
nants are sewage overflows, polluted storm water runoff,
boating wastes, and malfunctioning septic systems.
Numerous federal, state, tribal, and local partners work to
control these sources, reduce the contamination, monitor
recreational waters, and inform the public when a health
threat exists.The Coast Guard,for example, helps protect
marine environments through ballast water management
enforcement, promotion of marine sanitation devices
for use by recreational boaters, enforcement of sewage
discharge prohibitions, and reduction and prevention of
oil and hazardous materials spills. Also, EPA's new Beaches
Environmental Assessment, Closure and Health (BEACH)
Program is designed to dramatically improve the informa-
tion available to the public about the quality of water at
recreational beaches.

   KEY ACTION: In early 1998, EPA will release a BEACH
   Action Plan describing priority actions for federal.
Formanyyears,beacnes on Long Island Sound were closed due to sewage pollufion.Because of improve-
ments in sewage treatment more beaches are now open.
   state, tribal, and local implementation of beach
   monitoring and notification programs.The BEACH
   Action Plan will include priority research, training, and
   guidance needs for the implementing agencies.

   KEY ACTION: In May 1998, EPA will release the first
   Internet-based, federal database on beach advisories
   and closings in the United States. In addition to
   advisories and closings, this database will list which
   beaches provide monitoring and which do not.

   KEY ACTION: In 1998, EPA will develop a specific plan
   and schedule for the development of a new genera-
   tion of microbiological criteria for nationally protec-
   tive beach water quality standards. New standards
   will be issued by 2003.The plan will include necessary
   research and interagency coordination, and describe
   the transition from the total coliforms/fecal coliforms
   currently in most state and tribal water quality stan-
   dards to EPA's recommended £ coli and Enterococcus

                                            restore and protect watersheds i
                                                             u; tilt)
                                                                      ch/iM/r II
Own and safe drinking water Is something we enjoy each day.

          criteria, and new indicators for ear, skin, and
          respiratory infections.To ensure a nationally
          consistent system, EPA will establish a schedule for
          federal promulgation of standards where states fail
          to enact protective measures.

           KEY ACTION: EPA will direct enforcement and
          compliance assistance efforts, together with state
          and local authorities, at regulated sources contribut-
          ing to beach closings.These efforts will address
          sanitary sewer overflows, combined sewer overflows,
          storm water discharges, wet weather discharges that
          contain substantial amounts of contaminants, and
          other point sources that are not discharging in
          compliance with applicable requirements.

        Ensure Water is Safe to Drink	
        Drinking water in the United States is typically safe.
        However, there are a number of threats to the safety of
        drinking water, including both chemical and microbial
   contamination.There is growing recognition of the value
   of protecting the high quality of waters that are a source of
   drinking water as a means of reducing the cost of treat-
   ment systems required under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

   Microbial contamination of drinking water, such as
   bacteria, viruses, and pathogens, is an area of special
   concern. While filtration and disinfection of drinking water
   can effectively remove microbiological contaminants, the
|  reliability of these microbial treatment systems is not as
   high as some chemical treatment systems. Ensuring the
   high quality of sources of drinking water is especially
   important for reducing risks from microbial contamination.
   Microbiological contaminants are of greatest concern
   because they can cause immediate and sometimes deadly
   health threats, especially to sensitive members of the
   population. Because children, especially infants, may drink
   more fluids per pound of body weight than adults, they
   could be more vulnerable to these contaminants.

   The 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act pro-
   vided for new efforts to identify sources of drinking water
   and to protect these sources. Such efforts can be enhanced
   by improved coordination with the water pollution control
   programs implemented under the Clean Water Act and
   other water quality protection laws, especially efforts to
   protect critical watersheds. As part of this effort, federal,
   state, and tribal agencies need to assess, on a watershed
   basis, the problems that impair the designated uses of
   waters, with a priority on waters designated for use as
   drinking water.These agencies need to ensure the effective
   coordination of tools available under the Safe Drinking
   Water Act and Clean Water Act, as well as other federal pro-

clean water action plan C
 grams to help protect watersheds. Finally, federal, state, and
 tribal agencies need to gather information to support
 standard-setting and targeting of priorities in the future.

    KEY ACTION: In October 1998, EPA will lead an
    agreement among federal agencies for directing
    program authorities,technical assistance, data, and
    enforcement resources to help states, tribes, and local
    communities design and implement their drinking
    water source water assessment and protection
    programs within the unified watershed protection
    and restoration efforts described in Chapter Ill.This
    agreement will draw on program authorities under
    relevant laws to assign priority to drinking water
    source water areas needing protection.

I    KEY ACTION: EPA will increase enforcement and com-
    pliance assistance in those watersheds where sources
    of drinking water are contaminated or threatened.

Reduce Exposure to
Endocrine - Disrupting Pollutants	

 A growing body of research indicates that many industrial
 chemicals and pesticides may interfere with the normal
 functioning of human and wildlife endocrine systems.
 The endocrine or hormone system is a body's chemical
 control mechanism found in nearly all animals, including
 mammals, insects, fish, and birds. Consequently,
 endocrine, or hormone, disrupters may cause a variety of
 problems with development and reproduction.

 Further research, monitoring, and testing are needed to
 improve  understanding of the potential impacts of
                endocrine-disrupting chemicals.The National Science and
                Technology Council's Committee on Environment and
                Natural Resources convened a working group led by
                EPA, DOI,and the National Institute of Environmental
                Health Sciences, that included NOAA and other federal
                agencies.This working group has developed a multi-
                agency research strategy for endocrine disruptors.
                Federal agencies are working with others to implement
                this research strategy.

                The Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 and the Safe
                Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 require EPA
                to develop and present to Congress a screening program
                for endocrine disruptors by 1998 and to implement the
                program by 1999. EPA has asked a multi-stakeholder,
                public-private Endocrine Disrupter Screening and Testing
                Advisory Committee to provide advice on how to
                structure such a program. Several federal agencies
                including NOAA, DOI, and the Department of Health
                and Human Services are represented on the committee.
                The committee's report is due to be completed in late
                1998. In addition, the National Research Council of the
                National Academy of Sciences is conducting a major
                study of endocrine disruption that is scheduled for
                release later this year.

                  KEY ACTION: In response to the requirements of
                  the Food Quality Protection Act and the Safe
                  Drinking Water Act, EPA will publish in 1998 a
                  strategy for evaluating chemicals for their potential
                  to cause effects through endocrine disruption, will
                  implement the strategy no later than 1999, and
                  provide Congress with a status report on this work by
                  the end of 2000.

                                            restore and protect watersheds
                                                                      rhffhtpr IJ
          KEY ACTION: EPA will address recommendations in
          the National Academy of Sciences' report on
          endocrine disruption and develop an appropriate
          national strategy.

       Healthy watersheds are the key to maintaining and
       restoring water quality. Natural resources, soils, cropland,
       rangeland, forests, and  wetlands are the building blocks
       of our watersheds.The quality of water is, in many
       respects, a reflection of the health of the natural
       resources and the stewardship of farmers, ranchers, and
       federal land managers. Stewardship of natural resources is
       the fundamental first step in pollution prevention.

       Managing natural resources on a watershed basis offers a
       geographic context within which the interactions of
       lands, waters, human activity, and natural threats can be

Protecting New YorlcCity's Drinking Water                                          ~
     The New York Gty water supply system provides drinking water to almost nine million residents of New York City and surrounding suburbs.
     Most of the City's drinking water comes from the 1,900 square-mile Catskill/Delaware watershed that extends 125 miles north and west
     of the city. Through a landmark agreement with EPA, New York State, and upstate communities, the City is pursuing an aggressive watershed
     protection program. The federal Surface Water Treatment Rule allows some water supply systems to  avoid filtration provided there is
     high-quality water protected through watershed management and other measures. Under the agreement, the City is supporting a number
     of watershed partnerships and taking several other actions to protect and restore the watershed. Watershed partnerships are  working
     to upgrade sewage treatment plants, improve nutrient  and manure management on dairy farms, create buffers around reservoirs and
     wetlands, protect stream corridors, and improve storm water management. By working together in the watershed, the City and watershed
     residents strive to keep contaminants out of the City's water supply in the first place. Although the City is still required to filter water coming
     from an adjoining watershed, ratepayers may save billions of dollars through this watershed approach to pollution prevention.
monitored, assessed, and understood.Watersheds also
provide a good mechanism for helping residents
to understand the relationship between their activities
in one part of the watershed and the environmental con-
sequences to rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters.

Federal  lands, particularly in remote and mountainous
portions of the western United States, include watersheds
that are in relatively pristine condition.These watersheds
are extremely important as sources of clean water for
drinking water,fish, and wildlife, and for other purposes.
Protecting the integrity of these sensitive watersheds and
recognizing their value as sources of high-quality water
are important goals. Activities such as road building,
logging, mining, grazing, hydrologic modification, or
excessive recreational use can degrade the integrity of
these watersheds and require actions to reduce their
harm. In other instances, watersheds on federal lands may
be impaired and require restoration to meet clean water
goals. Strategies to reduce soil erosion, minimize nutrient

                                            clean water action plan f'////f)M* II
     runoff, or restore and repair riparian zones can help to
     improve these impaired watersheds.

     In rural watersheds, stewardship of privately owned
     croplands, pastures, wetlands, and rangelands is the key
     to pollution prevention.These watersheds are largely in
     the care of millions of farmers, ranchers, and other private
 "The nation.behaveswellifit treats the
natural resources as assets which it must
turn over to the next generation increased
             — ,»„ ~ -p-^v     " m«3i_.  -	*•
      and not impaired in value/'
                    "*"        ~-"« -tra   Mt~
                  •";—Theodore Roosevelt
                                      The skill with
                                      which they
                                      manage their
                                      lands is key
                                      not only to
food and fiber for the nation, but also to the health of
watersheds. Ensuring that farmers and ranchers have the
technical,financial, and educational assistance they need
to be good stewards of their lands is a fundamental ele-
ment of a comprehensive clean water program.

The waters associated with these federal or rural water-
sheds, whether pristine, sensitive, or impaired, often flow
to urban or suburban areas where other human-caused
activities can affect water quality. Policies and programs
specifically designed to address the runoff of urban and
suburban pollutants can help to mitigate their effects.
But programs designed to prevent pollution in upper
portions of the watershed can complement and support
efforts to reduce urban runoff and help reduce the cost
of water treatment.

A watershed-based strategy for dealing with polluted
runoff through improved natural resources stewardship,
in addition to treating polluted runoff from urban
and suburban environs, is much more likely to be
successful than a single strategy focused on only one
segment of the watershed.The key to watershed health
is to coordinate and link up natural resources steward-
ship and polluted runoff prevention strategies through-
out the watershed, protecting those portions of the
watershed that remain pristine while, at the same time,
minimizing those sources of polluted runoff causing
the greatest harm.

Stewardship of Federal
Lands and Resources	

Over 800 million acres of the United States is federal
land.These lands contain an immense diversity and
wealth of natural resources and their use and stewardship
are important to the American public.These lands include
significant sources of drinking water and public recre-
ation opportunities. Over 65 percent of all threatened
and endangered plants, animals, and fish find protection
on federal lands. Stewardship of federal lands may include
whole watersheds under the jurisdiction of a single
federal agency or any agency's lands intermingled with
and affected by other federal, state, and local ownerships.
Increasingly, competition for the use of these lands and
their natural resources can create conflicts and stake
holder concerns.The need to continue advancing a
coordinated and cooperative approach to clean water
on federal lands has never been greater.

Hundreds of actions  have already been taken by federal
agencies to build watershed partnerships, improve the
delivery of federal programs, and pioneer watershed
and ecosystem approaches to land management and
pollution prevention. However, much more needs to be
done to involve stakeholders in watershed planning

                                            restore and protect \ya^iraheds/7////)/i^' //
fUlierman hanging uhnon nets.
        and management activities, to reorient programs to
        support watershed efforts, and to ensure full compliance
        with environmental laws and management directives.
        Federal facilities and land encompass a wide diversity
        of missions and activities. Many federal lands and
        watersheds, such as national forests, parks, grasslands,
        and wildlife refuges, represent some of the most pristine
        and valuable natural resources. Restoration is also
        needed where historical and past uses have resulted
        in damage to watershed conditions or water quality.

        Unified Policy to Enhance Watershed
        Management on Federal Lands
        Federal agencies will develop a unified policy that
        provides a framework to ensure that federal land and
        resource management activities demonstrate water
        quality stewardship and ensure the health of aquatic
        ecosystems on federal lands.This policy will ensure a
        watershed approach to federal land and resource
        management that emphasizes assessing the function
        and condition of watersheds, incorporating watershed
        goals in planning, enhancing pollution prevention,
        monitoring and restoring watersheds, recognizing waters
of exceptional value, and expanding collaboration with
other agencies, states, tribes, and communities.This
policy will address consistency and compliance with
state and tribal programs as required by federal laws,
including the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water
Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act.The Unified
Policy will include:

    (1)  Coordination and planning of federal
        programs and resource management activities
        on a watershed basis to achieve clean water
        objectives, emphasizing state, tribal, and federal
        priority watersheds, taking into account
        different federal, state, and tribal approaches,
        programs, and guidelines; and creating "living
        laboratories"for adaptive management of
        watersheds and water quality.

    (2)  Coordinated development and application of
        enhanced watershed assessment, hydrologic
        analysis, resource inventory, and classification;
        monitoring and evaluation methods; and
        compatible data  standards.

    (3)  Control of nonpoint sources of pollution
        through training in and implementation of
        best management practices, working with
        states and tribes to meet performance goals,
        and establishing appropriate memorandums
        of agreement.

    (4)  Enhanced watershed restoration efforts,
        including the integration of watershed
        restoration as a key part of land management
        planning and program strategies.

                                          dpan water action pla;
     (5) Development of a process and guidelines
        for identifying and designating waters
        or watersheds on federal lands that may
        have significant human health, public use, or
        aquatic ecosystem values and a need for
        special protection.

     (6) A greater role for citizen stakeholders in
        completing watershed assessments, monitor-
        ing pollution sources, and planning and
        implementing restoration efforts through
        collaborative stewardship approaches.

   KEY ACTION:"By:19997bWand"usbA,"in consultation
   with other federal agencies, states and tribes, and
   other stakeholders, will develop a Unified Federal
   Policy to enhance watershed management for the
   protection of water quality and the health of aquatic
   ecosystems on federal lands.
Increase Forest Road
Maintenance and Obliteration

Roads and trails are primary sources of sediment runoff on
federal lands. Each federal land management agency has
standards for road maintenance that include practices for
protecting water resources. However, a significant
backlog of maintenance needs exists. For example, due
to funding constraints, the U.S. Forest Service currently
maintains only 40 percent of its road system to standard.
Using funds from forest receipts as allowed under
PL-62-430,the U.S. Forest Service can increase such
maintenance of roads and trails 20 percent or more.The
,U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management
(BLM) will increase maintenance of roads and trails and
aggressively relocate problem roads and trails to better
locations. Where unneeded roads pose threats to water
quality, they will be obliterated and the land restored.
Efforts will be aimed at improving watercourses affected by
erosion and sediment from  roads/trails and at improving
^aterQuality Improving on Public La^
     The President's NorthwestForestPlan, initiated//;< April'1994 and signed by the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior,
     set in motion unprecedented collaborative action for managing 25 million acres and improving water quality on public lands in Oregon,
     Washington, and Northern California. A key element of the Northwest Forest Plan is the Aquatic Conservation Strategy, a framework for
     managing federal lands, with an emphasis on restoring habitats for stocks at risk—including various salmon and trout—and improving
     water quality. The strategy has four main elements to achieve its objectives: (1) riparian reserves,(2) delineation of critical watersheds,
     (3) analysis of watershed conditions and hydrologic functions, and (4) watershed restoration. To date, an interagency effort has completed
     watershed analysis on approximately 70 percent of the land base within the Northwest Forest Plan area. Since FY1994, approximately
     $22-$26 million dollars a year have been allocated to the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to continue the program
     of ecosystem restoration, community assistance, and job creation for displaced timber workers.

                                     restore and protect watersheds/'/////?/
                                        <-|gan water action plan UlttMfT II
                                                  <:?.-,' itl~f//'•*'•'
Forest health has been affected by overcrowding, air pollu-
tion, and disease, as well as by fragmentation of land use in
the urban/rural interface.The effect of forest loss and the
importance of sustaining the health of forests should be
recognized as an integral part of future watershed, water
quality, and pollution prevention strategies.
   KEY ACTION: By 2000, land management agencies
   will implement a strategy for assessing threats to
   watersheds and water quality stemming from
   forest health, and for targeting fuel treatments
   or other techniques to priority watersheds most
   threatened by damage from disease and wildfire.

   KEY ACTIOISkThe U.S. Forest Service, the BLM,and EPA
   will develop and implement a strategy for assisting
   states and tribes in watershed-based assessments
   and actions where urban-rural interactions threaten
   forest health and water quality.

   KEY ACTION:The U.S. Forest Service will expand
   implementation of forest health survey and
   monitoring within all 50 states by 2005.
Improve the Health of Federal Rangelands
Although public rangelands are in better condition today
than at the turn of the century (when unregulated grazing
and drought caused extensive rangeland degradation),
improvement is still needed on many BLM lands and an esti-
mated 10 million acres of National Forest System rangelands.

In many areas, rangeland condition and trends are
unknown. In addition, stream, riparian, and fish habitat
 conditions are often tied to rangeland health. More intense
 inventory, analysis, and monitoring will be undertaken to
 focus on rangelands which are in unsatisfactory condition.
 Implementing decisions were made on 1,295 allotments
 in FYs 1996 and 1997, with 544 decisions planned for
 FY1998 and 1,200 expected in FYs 1999 and 2000.The U.S.
 Forest Service has scheduled the analysis of 6,886 grazing
 allotments over a 15-year period ending in 2010 as the
 foundation for improved management practices. A combi-
 nation of management activities, including re-vegetation
 with native species, soil stabilization measures, stream
 protection and restoration, and grazing adjustment, will
 be used to help restore upland and riparian range.

    KEY ACTION: The U.S. Forest Service and the BLM
    will accelerate range allotment planning, implement
    management changes, and accelerate restoration
    actions to restore the sustainability, function, and
    diversity of rangeland ecosystems.This process
   will be accomplished through improved allotment
    management decisions; development by the year
   2000 of a standardized rangeland health inventory,
   classification, and monitoring system in accordance
   with the BLM,the Natural Resources Conservation
   Service, and the U.S. Forest Service; adoption of
   comprehensive guidelines for managing resources
   now at risk; and restoration of stream, riparian, and
   other degraded areas.

r  KEY ACTION: By 2002, the U.S. Forest Service, the
   BLM, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service
;   will develop and implement rangeland vegetation
   classifications; establish baseline inventory data

                                   _ restore and protect watei^heds^/7////)//iy'> //
                                                    £"*"' "! ",.-*;- /:''*    1
   and an interagency training program for rangeland
   inventory and monitoring; and aggressively begin to
   implement management changes and restoration
   activities to eliminate ecological, management, or
   erosion problems that cause degraded water quality.

Prevent Water Pollution from
Abandoned/Active Mines

Federal agencies have been studying for some time how
best to approach the restoration of watersheds affected
by abandoned hard rock mines on land under their
jurisdiction, custody, or control. Abandoned hard rock
mine sites may affect public health and the environment
due to releases of hazardous substances from waste
materials and acid drainage. Affected watersheds usually
involve federally managed lands intermixed with private
or state lands. Cleanup of environmental problems on the
federal portion of mixed ownership watersheds should
be coordinated with cleanup of state, tribal, and private
lands wherever possible. Cooperation among federal
land management agencies, states, tribes, and EPA will
 help ensure that proposed actions result in success.

Federal land management agencies have been developing
inventories of thousands of abandoned mines on federal
lands,The scope and number of abandoned mine sites
and the watersheds they affect require setting priorities.
To better focus scarce financial and human resources,
federal agencies developed an Interdepartmental
Abandoned Mine Land Watershed Initiative, which
includes a collaborative effort with state and local agencies,
tribes, and private parties. Work began in two pilot states
in 1996. Both  USDA and DOI continue to expand the
program with available funding. Another action that
federal land management agencies can take to accelerate
cleanup is to leverage their available funds by pursuing
the parties responsible for the contamination on federal
lands and requiring them to conduct cleanup actions.
USDA experience indicates that over the next five to 10
years, the value of work performed by responsible parties
may be two to three times the investment possible using
only appropriated funds. Over the life of the program, as
much as one-third of the total cost for cleanup could be
contributed by responsible parties.

   KEY ACTION: Using the approach outlined in the
   Interdepartmental Abandoned Mine Lands
   Watershed Initiative, Federal land managers will work
   in partnership with EPA, state agencies, tribes, private
   parties, and other interested groups to accelerate the
   rate of cleanup of watersheds affected by abandoned
   hard rock mines. With special emphasis on ensuring
   that viable responsible parties contribute their
   share of cleanup costs, federal land managers will,
   beginning in 1999, add three to five watersheds or
   major mine cleanup actions to the program each
   year through 2005.The USDA program is expected
   to meet a substantial portion of this target. USDA
   targets for 1999 include investigation and cleanup
   on an estimated 50 hard rock mine sites. Responsible
   parties have performed over $30 million in work
   on federal lands managed by USDA during the past
   two years.

   KEY ACTION: By 1999, federal land management
   agencies and EPA will forge a partnership, consistent
   with the watershed-based strategy described above

                                       clean water action plan
  /////Mr 77
  and building on the existing Memorandum of
  Understanding, to help resolve issues and enhance
  review, planning, and operations for active mining

Many streams and much ground water on federal and
private lands in the East have been seriously affected by
acid runoff and releases from abandoned coal mines.ln
many areas, entire watersheds are unable to support
aquatic life and present hazards to the public. For
example, more than 100 abandoned coal mines are
discharging acid drainage into the South Fork of the
Cumberland River. In many situations, cleanup needed to
improve conditions on federal lands must take place in
upstream private watersheds.

  KEY ACTION: By 2000, the Office of Surface Mining in
  DO), in cooperation with EPA and land management
  agencies, will increase by 50 percent the number of
  cooperative projects to clean up rivers and streams
  polluted by coal mine drainage.The Office of Surface
  Mining will continue to work with key local stake-
  holders, including watershed associations, state, and
  tribal agencies, and local units of government.

  KEY ACTION: EPA will revise effluent guidelines to
  better address coal mining in arid western areas, and
  will develop new effluent guidelines to address coal
  re-mining operations.

Increase Understanding of
Ecosystems at the Watershed Scale

Historically, much of the management of rivers and
watersheds has seen  simple solutions applied to complex

Gregory Gulch tailings in Central City, Colorado.

problems. Success in protecting water quality and restor-
ing degraded watershed conditions requires an adequate
understanding of the ecological processes that govern
watershed functions, and ultimately water quality, in a
given water body. Federal land managers have already
piloted a number of innovative analysis tools and efforts.
Further increasing and improving available information
and analysis tools will help public as well as private land
managers. By working toward consistent and proven
methods for conducting land inventory, characterizing
the watershed, identifying reference conditions, and
formulating procedures for analysis and evaluation,federal
agencies will improve decision-making, save resources,

                                             gstoreand protect watersheds ClMfitPt* II
     reduce legal challenges, and be able to transfer new tech-
     nology to others involved in watershed management.
     New technological tools, such as geographic information
     systems, and enhanced understanding of ecological
     relationships make increasing efforts in this arena timely.

     Federal agencies do not often have a capability or
     framework for freely sharing information among agencies
     or across watershed or jurisdictional boundaries. Land
     managers are also faced with incomplete watershed
     assessments and inadequate tools for conducting
watershed analysis, characterizing watershed condition,
determining landscape capability, and estimating the
expected impacts of proposed management actions.

   KEY ACTION: Federal agencies will expand efforts
   to complete watershed assessments and to
   establish compatible data standards and resource
   classification and inventory methods and protocols
   that will allow sharing of ecological, resource
   condition, land use, and monitoring information
   among federal and other stakeholders.
Restoring the California Bay-Delta Ecosystem	
:     The Bay-Delta region of California, the largest estuary in the West, is an intricate web of waterways created by the blending of the San
     Francisco Bay with the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. The Delta provides drinking water to 20 million people and irri-
'     gation for 200 crops, including forty-five percent of the nation's fruits and vegetables. This special area is a critical habitat for more than 120
     fish and wildlife species. As a result of these demands, the ecosystem has suffered greatly. Habitats are declining, and fish populations have
     plummeted, with several species listed as threatened or endangered. The system no longer serves as a reliable source of high quality water and
     levees face an unacceptably high risk of breaching.
     In June 1994, the key state and federal agencies joined together to protect and restore the Bay-Delta  while ensuring adequate supplies of clean
     water. In December 1994, these CALFED agencies, along with urban, agricultural, and environmental stakeholders, signed the Bay-Delta Accord.
     The three-year Accord has already helped to slow the ecological decline. Thus far, progress has been made on each of its major elements:
         •  undertheClean Water Act,EPA approved the state's water quality standards in September 1995;
         •  coordination of operations of the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project is ongoing;
         •  an intensive planning process for long-term ecosystem restoration and improved water management is underway; and
         •  funding has been dedicated by urban water users, the federal government, and the state to begin immediate restoration actions.
     CALFED is developing a long-term plan for ecosystem restoration and improved water management, including improvements for storing and
     conveying water to meet multiple objectives. CALFED is currently  analyzing various alternatives for these purposes, including common
     programs for ecosystem restoration,  water quality protection, levee improvements, and water use efficiency, with regular input from
     stakeholders. A final plan is anticipated by the end of 1998.

clean water action pla
                                                             n ////?/)//?/* / /
       KEY ACTION: By 2000, the U.S. Forest Service, the
       BLM, USGS, and EPA will test the watershed analysis
       process developed under the Northwest Forest Plan
       for subsequent application in targeted watersheds,
       representing a diversity of major ecosystem types
       throughout the country.

       KEY ACTION: By 2000, the Bureau of Reclamation,
       with assistance from USGS, will assess water quality
       of reservoirs and streams affected by the Bureau's
       operations and, by 2003, develop strategies in coop-
       eration with others for water quality improvements.

    Permits, Licenses, and Leases on
    Federal Land to Protect Water Quality
    Much of the activity that takes place on federal land is
    authorized through federal permits, licenses, and leases,
    including recreation facilities, pipe and transmission lines,
    service facilities, ditches and dams, and hydrologic modifica-
    tions. Federal agencies will ensure that environmental

Wetlands Provide Flood Protection for Boston—.
     In a demonstration of the ability of wetlands to reduce
     flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) elected to
     acquire and preserve wetlands along the Charles River in
     Massachusetts through acquisition  rather than construct
     extensive flood damage reduction  facilities. Through the
     purchase of 8,115 acres of wetlands, the Corps reduced flood
     damage and preserved other wetland functions that would
     have been  lost. The annual cost of the project averaged
     $617,000 and the annual benefits averaged $2.1 million.
                 safeguards and appropriate water quality provisions are
                 incorporated into special use permits, leases, and licenses.
                 Agencies will strive to direct resources to the monitoring of
                 active operations to ensure compliance and to take neces-
                 sary steps, including involving state agencies or EPA, when
                 non-compliance with water quality protection is encountered.
                   KEY ACTION: Federal land and resource management
                   agencies will work with states and tribes to immedi-
                   ately begin a review of existing processes to ensure
                   that the issuance and renewal of use authorizations
                   and licenses, adequately address water quality protec-
                   tion, monitoring, and compliance measures and
                   will revise and upgrade those processes as needed
                   by 2000. By 2005, federal agencies will amend use
                   authorizations and licenses, as authorities allow, to:
                   require appropriate monitoring; protect or enhance
                   watershed and stream health; use specific state and
                   tribal best management practice requirements; and
                   ensure compliance with water quality standards.
                 Restore and Protect America's Wetlands

                 The nation's wetlands are areas where the flow of water,
                 the cycling of nutrients, and the energy of the sun produce
                 specially adapted communities of plants and animals.

                 Wetlands contribute to the environment in ways that
                 parallel rain forests in more tropical climates and perform
                 many functions that are important to the nation's econo-
                 my and quality of life. As waters flow across watersheds
                 through wetlands, chemicals that otherwise would conta-
                 minate waterways are removed through natural process-
                 es that assimilate pollution. When heavy rains fall and
                 deep snowpacks melt, wetlands store and slow down the

                                    restore and protect watersheds ClI fluid* 11
release of floodwaters, thereby reducing damage to
downstream farms and communities. Some wetlands
recharge aquifers and sustain the yield of water for
human use as well as for dry-season flows in rivers.

Many plants and animals depend upon wetlands, which
are essential for maintaining biodiversity. Wetland species
are the base of commercial and recreational enterprises
that provide jobs and income important to thousands of
communities around the country.Three quarters of the
nation's commercial fish and shellfish, which provide
approximately $2 billion of revenue annually, are depen-
dent on coastal bays and their wetlands.Trees that grow
in southeast forested swamps are harvested for timber,
and ducks and geese in all flyways use wetlands for
feeding, nesting, and resting during migration.

Because the importance of wetlands was poorly under-
stood in the past, over half of the wetlands in the contigu-
ous states have been lost since the time of European
settlement. In some states and  many watersheds, less
than 10 percent of the original  acreage of wetlands
remains. Although the rate of loss has been dramatically
reduced in recent years, the United States continues to
sustain a net loss of approximately 100,000 acres of
wetlands every year.

Recognizing the important value of wetlands to the
nation, the President announced a comprehensive
40-point plan in 1993 to make federal wetlands
programs more fair, more flexible, and more effective.The
cornerstone of the President's 1993 Wetlands Plan was
the formal adoption of an "interim goal of no overall net
loss of the nation's remaining wetlands, and the long-
term goal of increasing the quality and quantity of the
nation's wetland resource base."Concerns and sugges-
tions from people with a stake in the way federal agen-
cies administer wetlands programs were considered as
this plan was developed and implemented. As a result of
the 1993 Wetlands Plan, wetland losses continue to
decline and the rights of property owners are protected.
Regulatory programs are more efficient and burdens on
permit applicants have been reduced.

The Clean Water Action Plan will move further to actually
reverse the historic pattern of wetland losses in the
United States and achieve a net increase of 100,000 acres
of wetlands each year, beginning in 2005.

A Net Increase of 100,000
Acres of Wetlands per Year by 2005
Regulatory protections for wetlands stemmed the tide of
wetland losses through the 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s,
these programs have become even more effective. Wetland
regulation and enforcement will continue to play an
important role in the overall wetland strategy, as improve-
ments in program effectiveness continue to reduce losses.
Achieving a net increase in wetlands will require work-
ing cooperatively with landowners and communities to
encourage and support the restoration and enhancement
of wetlands, while at the same time ensuring that the
regulatory program results in no overall net losses. USDA's
Wetlands Reserve Program, to restore 975,000 acres of
wetlands by 2002, will be an important part of the strategy,
as will other federal efforts to restore wetlands such as
USDA's Conservation  Reserve Program and the

                                                  clean water acti
                                                                   gn ////////?-/
3,500 acres of wetlands similar to these at AuSable Marsh along Lake Champlain are being protected
through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.
        Department of the Interior's Partners for Wildlife program.
        Continuing progress in state, tribal, local, and private efforts
        will also be important. Strengthening partnerships among
        federal programs and nonfederal efforts will be a
        necessary prerequisite to achieving the net gain goal.

        The planned pathway to achieve the goal is:

              The Baseline
             •  Based on the most recent survey, the annual net
               loss of wetlands is estimated at approximately
               100,000 acres. At this rate, achieving a net increase
               of 100,000 acres per year will require an increase
               in gross wetland gains of 200,000 acres annually.

             •  Existing federal, state, tribal, local, and private
               programs are expected to continue to reduce
               the wetland loss rate as they have over the past
               25  years. Some of these losses are, however, due
               to natural factors or are caused by activities
               which are not regulated.Therefore,for purposes
 of estimating how much restoration is needed to
 achieve a net gain of 100,000 acres,federal agen-
 cies will identify programs which are expected to
 create or restore 200,000 acres of wetlands. If, as
 expected, actual losses continue to decline, the
 net increase would actually exceed the goal.

 To meet the goal, unavoidable wetland losses
 that are authorized by section 404 of the Clean
 Water Act program will be offset fully by gains
 achieved through successful compensatory
 mitigation in 2005 and each succeeding year.

 A Net Increase
 Federal programs key to achieving this projected
 net gain through wetland restoration include
 USDA's Wetland Reserve and Conservation Reserve
 programs, the Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps)
 Environmental Restoration programs, the
 Department of the Interior's Partners for Fish and
 Wildlife program, and the North American
 Wetlands Conservation Act.

    • Agriculture programs will yield an
      estimated gain of 125,000 to 150,000 acres
      of wetlands per year by the year 2005.
    • Other federal  programs will yield an
      estimated gain of at least 40,000 to 60,000
      acres per year by the year 2005.

• Non-federal programs will play a vital part in
 meeting the goal by contributing approximately
 35,000 acres per year by the year 2005.

                                    pstoi-g and protect watersheds nlMlft" II
As new information on wetland trends and effectiveness
of these programs becomes available, or if changes are
made in the programs on which this pathway is based,
re-evaluation and mid-course corrections may be
necessary to ensure that the goal is met by 2005.

   KEY ACTION: The Corps and EPA, working
   with other federal, state, tribal, and local agencies,
   will emphasize avoidance of wetland losses,
   deterrence of unpermitted losses, and enforcement
   of permit conditions to protect wetlands under
   Clean Water Act authorities. For unavoidable
   wetland losses, no overall net loss will be achieved
   in the regulatory program through mitigation
   accountability and by improving the reliability
   of restoration.

   KEY ACTION: The Administration will work
   with Congress to expand the Wetlands Reserve
   Program to allow up to 250,000 acres of wetlands
   each year. In conjunction with other agricultural
   incentive programs, this initiative will enable
   the enrollment of 150,000 acres for wetlands
   restoration in 2005 and subsequent years.

   KEY ACTION: By 2005, the Corps will increase
   by at least 50 percent the wetlands restored
   and enhanced through its programs. This
   includes wetlands restored as part of the
   President's "Riverine Ecosystem and Flood
   Hazard Mitigation" program in the FY 1999
   budget and succeeding years.
KEY ACTION:The Corps, EPA, USDA,the Fish and
Wildlife Service, and NOAA, through the Institute
for Water Resources, will initiate a review of the
effectiveness of wetlands mitigation banking by
an independent body, such as the National Academy
of Sciences or a science/environmental advisory
board by the year 2000.

KEY ACTION: By 2005, working with Wetlands and
River Corridor Restoration Partners, a group of
30 governmental and non-governmental organiza-
tions involved in habitat restoration, EPA will have
cooperated on wetland projects in 500 watersheds.

KEY ACTION: By 2005, NOAA will increase the acreage
of wetlands restored annually, to improve coastal
water quality and benefit living marine resources,
by encouraging wetlands restoration planning in
state coastal zone management programs, and by
continuing state and local partnerships under the
Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and
Restoration Program settlement funds and
community-based restoration funds. NOAA also
will work with other federal, state, tribal, and local
agencies to encourage the use of existing wetland
restoration programs in coastal areas.

KEY ACTION: In the enforcement programs, EPA and
the Corps will emphasize restoration and mitigation
of wetlands as remedies for section 404 violations.
EPA will also use Supplemental Environmental
Projects (SEPs) that restore wetlands as remedies in

glean water action plan ('flflMW
         ____,__„__   j
   programs enforcing non-404 requirements of law.
   Compliance with permit conditions will also be moni-
   tored and improved.

   KEY ACTION: The Federal Highway Administration
   will increase net wetlands acreage resulting from
   federal-aid highway projects by 50 percent in 10
   years, and will finance wetland mitigation projects
   for remediation of adverse effects from past federal
   aid highway improvements when such projects are
   determined to be appropriate and reasonable by the
   project sponsors.

Consistent Determination of
Wetlands Losses and Gains
A necessary prerequisite to achieving the wetlands goal
is ensuring that reliable systems are in place to collect and
analyze data on losses and gains in the nation's wetlands
inventory. Better methods will assist with accurately
tracking progress toward the goal, evaluating the  impact
of policy and program decisions on the goal, and making
the inventory  more sensitive to relatively small changes
in acreage.

The federal government currently supports two major
statistical wetlands inventories.These two approaches
do not produce consistent determinations of wetland
loss rates and do not provide adequate tracking of the
gain in wetland acres achieved through restoration.The
following key actions will reconcile the differences
between these two approaches and provide better
information on wetlands gains and losses.
                   KEY ACTION: By May 1,1998, the White House
                   Wetlands Working Group will finalize a plan to use
                   existing inventory and data collection systems to
                   support a single status and trends report by the year
                   2000. In addition, the White House Wetlands Working
                   Group will convene a peer review panel to evaluate,
                   by June 1998, a plan to track annual changes of less
                   than 100,000 acres in the nation's wetlands.

                   KEY ACTION: By October 1999, EPA, the Corps, the
                   Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Fish and
                   Wildlife Service, and NOAA will issue technical guid-
                   ance on the restoration, creation, and enhancement
                   of wetland functions.

                   KEY ACTION: The White House Wetlands Working
                   Group will, by October 1999, establish an interagency
                   tracking system (based on the wetlands layer of the
                   National Spatial Data Infrastructure) that will more
                   accurately account for wetland loss, restoration,
                   creation, and enhancement.This task will include
                   establishing accurate baseline data for federal
                   programs that will contribute to net wetland gains.
                   The system will be peer reviewed.

                Geographic-Based Planning to
                Protect and Restore Wetlands
                Small, piecemeal losses of wetlands and other aquatic
                habitats accumulate to significant levels of environmental
                damage in many areas of the United States. One way to
                better protect these valuable resources is to integrate wet-
                lands and similar habitats into geographic-based planning

                                               gstore and protect watersheds ClIflulfT II
        programs, Including the watershed approach and other
        planning programs that address coastal resources, habitat,
        floodplains and river corridors, and management of water
        resources and public lands. Because wetlands assimilate
        chemicals that otherwise would pollute our rivers, lakes,
        and bays, their protection and restoration is an integral
        component of clean water planning. Because they are also
        areas of high biological productivity, wetlands are a critical
        part of any effort to maintain or restore populations offish
        and wildlife, as well as the diversity of species.

        Geographic-based planning offers the potential to develop
        a cohesive framework that addresses both clean water and
        aquatic habitat, reflecting the interdependent relationships
        between water chemistry and ecological processes in the
        natural environment.To realize this potential, planning
        processes should include an inventory of wetlands and
        other aquatic sites that remove pollutants, reduce flood
        damages and/or supply food and shelter for fish and
        wildlife. Environmental, economic, and quality-of-life values
        of these areas should be assessed, their location and areal
extent determined, historic losses estimated, adverse
consequences of past losses evaluated, and priorities for
conservation and restoration ranked.

While geographic-based planning relies on strong local
leadership and is enhanced with state or tribal backing,
federal agencies will contribute by strengthening existing
assistance programs and developing new ways to provide
support. Information from federal agencies is available to
help identify important aquatic habitat, for example,
through NOAA's Essential Fish Habitat program. Federal
financial and technical assistance may enhance the
workability of options"to acquire, preserve, and/or restore
aquatic habitat. Regulatory and disincentive programs
affect planners'considerations of activities that would
adversely impact wetlands and other aquatic habitat.
Guidance on those programs will help ensure the
implementation of completed geographic-based plans.
For activities that meet or exceed federal environmental
standards, mechanisms are available to link regulatory
decisions to geographic-based plans.
Challenge 21: Riverine Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Hazard Mitigation
     In FY 1999, the Army Corps of Engineers is proposing a new program to focus on a community-based, watershed approach to riverine ecosystem
     restoration and flood hazard mitigation projects. Challenge 2 1 will play a significant role in helping the Corps meet its commitment to increase, by
     at least 50 percent, the wetlands restored and enhanced through its programs.
     This new Corps program will reach out to local communities and within the Corps to promote greater use of non-traditional, non-structural flood
     hazard mitigation strategies through increased fiscal and policy incentives. Non-traditional strategies include the purchase of easements, land
     acquisition, construction of setback levees, and structural floodproofing. These strategies have much less impact on riverine ecosystems than
     traditional structural projects, and so help to restore and sustain valuable natural areas such as wetlands.

                                        clgan water artion jglan_ fh/}M(T II
   KEY ACTION: The Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, the
   Corps, the Natural Resources Conservation Service,
   and EPA, coordinating with states and tribes, will
   improve access to information on programs for wet-
   lands and other habitat. Such information will be
   made available to geographic-based planners
   through toll-free help lines, the Internet, one-stop
   information centers, dedicated staff for outreach,
   and/or newsletters and other publications.

   KEY ACTION: Watershed Assistance Grants will be
   established to ensure that those whose wetland
   interests may be affected by planning have the
   means to participate in the process. Because active
   involvement requires a financial investment that may
   exceed the capability of some interests, these grants
   would contribute on an as-needed basis to the cost
   of participation.

   KEY ACTION: The Corps, NOAA, the Fish and Wildlife
   Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service,
   the National Park Service, and EPA will provide
   technical and/or financial assistance to states and
   tribes to integrate habitat considerations into
   geographic-based planning programs, and will
   offer incentives to programs that appropriately
   balance clean water and habitat factors.
Protect Coastal Waters
The nation's coastal resources provide enormous natural,
economic, and public health benefits. A majority of
Americans depend on them in some measure for their
livelihood, food, recreation, and enjoyment.

Coastal waters are also critical to a wide variety of
marine life, from manatees to migratory waterfowl to
salmon. Coastal waters are especially vulnerable to
pollution because of their high-density human
populations, the intensity of land uses, the high
population growth rates, and their role as receiving
waters for the nation's major watersheds.

Expand Federal Coastal Programs
Coastal waters are important recreational and economic
resources, but are under increasing pressure from
development and other stressers. Recent experience
has underscored the vulnerability of these waters to
outbreaks of Pfiesteria, harmful algal blooms, and other
biotoxins. While it is not known exactly what triggers
the toxic form of Pfiesteria, 75 percent of the known
outbreaks have occurred in waters over-enriched
with nutrients.

Harmful algal blooms, biotoxins, and pathogen contam-
ination indicate habitat deterioration and have important
implications both in terms offish disease and human
health. Harmful and toxic algal blooms have impacted
many coastal areas in recent years. Marine biotoxins can
be carried by shellfish, water, or air to humans and
wildlife. Outbreaks can kill and injure people, fish, and
wildlife; harm the viability of the fishing and aquaculture
industries and related enterprises; and ruin the aesthetic
and economic benefits of the affected waters.

and protect watersheds/'/////?/^/' //
                  KEY ACTION: NOAA and EPA will support the efforts
                  of coastal states to reduce polluted runoff that may
                  contribute to local or regional Pfiesteria problems, by
                  providing technical and financial assistance for
                  implementation of state coastal nonpoint pollution
                  control programs under the Coastal Zone Act
                  Reauthorization Amendments and state nonpoint
                  source management programs under the Clean
                  Water Act.

                  KEY ACTION:  NOAA, DOI, EPA, USDA, and other
                  federal agencies will work with states, academia,
                  and others to implement the current National
                  Harmful Algal Bloom Research and Monitoring
                  Strategy.The interagency strategy addresses
                  characterization of environmental conditions likely
                  to support toxic species, predictions of the onset
                  of conditions conducive to bloom formation,
                  and means to prevent, control, or mitigate
                  their impacts.
We of film Connector In South Carolina.
            KEY ACTION: NOAA and EPA, in cooperation with
            other federal agencies, will develop a coordinated
            response system that supports state and local
            efforts in coastal waters for major events, such as
            harmful algae blooms and Pfiesteria outbreaks.
            Where appropriate, EPA will work with state and
            local governments to help focus existing enforce-
            ment authorities on reducing pollutant discharges
            contributing to such events.

Controlling Polluted Runoff to South Carolina Waters
     The South Carolina coastal program has taken innovative steps to deal with runoff from bridges and golf courses. For example, for the Ocean Golf
     Course on Kiawah Island, the State developed a chemical management plan to guide seasonal application of chemicals so that resident terres-
     trial and aquatic species would be protected.
     The coastal program also worked with the State Department of Transportation to develop criteria and best management practices to protect
     water quality and shellfish resources from storm water runoff from bridges crossing coastal waters. The state first implemented
     the criteria and best management practices in the design and construction of the Isle of Palms Connector, a three-kilometer causeway that
     connects Mt. Pleasant to the Isle of Palms barrier island. The bridge spans over ecologically sensitive tidal creeks, marshes, oyster harvest areas,
     and the intra-coastal waterway.


                                        clean water action  lan
    KEY ACTION: NOAAand Regional Fishery
    Management Councils will amend Fisheries
    Management Plans, including the identification of
    essential fish habitat, by October 1998.The amended
    Fisheries Management Plans will include options
    and recommendations to minimize adverse effects
    caused by state or federal activities.

    KEY ACTION: The Corps and EPA will expand their
    efforts to promote the beneficial use of dredged
    materials to restore critical coastal habitats.
Approve and Implement State
Coastal Polluted Runoff Control Programs

The Coastal Zone Management Act provides for federally
approved state and territorial programs to preserve,
protect, develop, and — where possible — enhance the
resources of the nation's coastal zone. In 1990, Congress
enacted legislation calling for states and territories to
supplement these programs with efforts designed to
reduce polluted runoff in these critical coastal areas.

The coastal polluted runoff control program was
designed to integrate land and water management and
water quality protection programs at the federal (e.g.,
NOAA and EPA) and state (coastal management and
water quality agencies) levels.Together, these programs
contain two significant features. First, they provide for
implementing pollution control practices that conform to
national technical guidance defining the best available,
economically achievable measures to reduce nonpoint
pollution in coastal waters. Second, these programs are to
include appropriate enforceable policies, mechanisms,
and back-up authorities to ensure implementation of the
management measures and to protect coastal waters.
EPA and NOAA have already approved, with conditions to
improve the programs in certain respects, most of the 29
submitted coastal programs. Another three states recently
have begun development of coastal nonpoint programs
for later approval.The federal agencies will provide national
technical and programmatic workshops, one-on-one and
regional assistance, and resources to help all coastal states
and territories to implement approved programs and
satisfy any conditions needed for full approval.

   KEY ACTION: NOAA and EPA will work with coastal
   states and territories to ensure that they have
   developed programs to reduce polluted runoff in
   coastal areas and that these programs are at least
   conditionally approved by June 1998 and that all
   programs are fully approved by December 1999,
   with appropriate state-enforceable policies and

Build Coastal Partnerships

The federal government cannot act alone to restore and
protect the coasts. States, tribes, local governments,
businesses, and all sectors of the public must be involved
in order to achieve clean water and public health goals in
the coastal zone.This objective will require that more
information be readily available, existing partnerships
strengthened, and new partnerships established.

   KEY ACTION: NOAA and EPA will further develop and
   support partnerships with state, tribal, and local
   governments and organizations to provide technical
   assistance and information to local decision makers in
   coastal areas. NOAA and EPA, in cooperation with
   other federal agencies, will broadly share lessons


          learned from National Estuary Programs and the
          National Estuarine Research Reserve System. NOAA,
          in cooperation with USDA, will expand the Nonpoint
          Education of Municipal Officials program.

          KEY ACTION: NOAA, EPA, USDA, DOI, and other feder-
          al departments and agencies will use 1998, the
          International Year of the Ocean, to educate citizens,
          landowners, and consumers across the nation about
          their reliance and impacts on coastal waters.

        Coastal Research and Monitoring
        Effective enhancement of coastal ecosystems requires
        a comprehensive strategy that draws on the full array of
        tools and skills available from federal agencies and pro-
        grams/as well as active participation and support from state,
        tribal, and local governments, businesses, and the public.
                                         The first basic need
                                         is research to under-
                                         stand the mecha-
                                         nisms that transport
                                         pollutants to coastal
                                         waters and the
                                         impacts of pollutants
                                         on human activities,
                                         habitat, and living
                                         resources. Although
                                         such research is
                                         under way, it is often
                                         focused on specific
                                         pollutants, sources,
                                         or geographic areas.
Volunteer cleans up trash from a mid-Atlantic beach.
In order to restore and maintain the health of the nation's
coastal waters, that knowledge and research must be
integrated into a Coastal Research Strategy.The Strategy
should include a comprehensive review of existing
research programs related to the generation, transport,
and effect of coastal pollutants (including air deposition)
on coastal waters, habitats, and living and economic
resources.The Coastal Research Strategy should identify
areas of overlap and recommend improvements, identify
actions to integrate research results, and improve
communication of research results to natural resource
managers and the public.

   KEY ACTION: NOAA and EPA will lead the develop-
   ment of a multi-agency Coastal Research Strategy
   to be issued in 1999.
Coastal areas are experiencing dramatic population
growth. Additionally, coastal waters are highly
vulnerable to pollution from diverse sources. Effective
monitoring of coastal water conditions is essential.

Today, monitoring of coastal waters is conducted by
several agencies. NOAA conducts the Status and Trends
Program that reports on the condition of coastal waters
and  supports monitoring of shellfishing areas. EPA
conducts some monitoring of coastal waters, especially
related to coastal point source discharges, coral reefs, air
deposition, hypoxia, and ocean dumping of dredged
material. States and tribes monitor and assess coastal
and  estuarine waters to varying degrees.The USGS
conducts limited  monitoring of coastal waters, but has
significant information about pollution loads in inland
waters that are carried by rivers to coastal basins.

                                        clean water artipnplaiW/////)//'?' //
   cooperation with other federal agencies, states, and
   tribes, will develop a plan by the end of 1999 for coor-
   dinated monitoring of coastal waters and will, by the
   end of 2000, develop a comprehensive report to the
   public on the condition of the nation's coastal waters.

Incentives for Private Land Stewardship
Most of the land in the watersheds of the contiguous
United States is in the care of farmers, ranchers, and other
private landowners and managers.This Action Plan
envisions substantial increases in assistance to farmers and
ranchers to encourage voluntary adoption of conservation
plans as the primary means to accelerate pollution
prevention on private agricultural and forest lands.

Through USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program
(EQIP),farmers and ranchers will receive the technical,
financial, and educational assistance they need to prevent
pollution while protecting their bottom lines.This assis-
tance will help farmers put in place integrated pest and
crop management systems, develop nutrient and animal
waste management plans, use a new generation of
pesticides that have lower use rates and less environmental
impact, and install practices to reduce erosion and runoff
from their lands. New funds proposed in the FY1999 Clean
Water and Watershed Restoration Budget Initiative will be
made available through EQIP and delivered through the
watershed approach described in the next chapter.

Other USDA programs, such as the Conservation Reserve
Program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program,
and the Conservation Technical Assistance Program will be
broadly available to farmers and ranchers as a foundation
for pollution prevention across the rural landscape.These
programs will protect and restore riparian areas and
establish conservation buffers in rural watersheds all
across the country.

This Action Plan proposes innovative approaches to
providing pollution prevention incentives to farmers and
ranchers including risk management tools, marketing recog-
nition for pollution prevention, and producer financed incen-
tive programs through marketing and production orders.

Restore Riparian Areas and
Establish Conservation Buffers

Riparian zones are rich in biodiversity and are critical links
between the land and the nation's waters.They range in
size from a few feet on either side of a small stream to
several miles wide on large river systems.These small
but critically important ecosystems directly affect water
quality and the quality offish and wildlife habitat. As much
as 75 percent of terrestrial wildlife species are associated
with riparian areas.These areas can also be effective traps
for sediment, nutrients, and other potential pollutants
before they enter streams and lakes.

Riparian zones are often a focal point for conflicting
resource demands and a catalyst for community action.
Federal agencies will work in collaboration with states and
local communities to enhance the quality of riparian areas.

   KEY ACTION: Before December 1999, USDA, EPA, DOI,
   the Corps,Tennessee Valley Authority, NOAA, and
   other partners will showcase the application of
   stream corridor restoration technology in 12 demon-
   stration project areas for water quality improvement.

                                             restore anH prntert watershedsUlrfpftT 11
                                                              iX 'i ;. t t i
        Conservation buffers are strips of land that are maintained
        in permanent vegetation and designed to intercept
        pollutants before they reach rivers, streams, and lakes.
        They can enhance wildlife habitat, improve water quality,
        and enrich the aesthetics on farmlands.These "green
        stripes" painted across watersheds can substantially reduce
        sediment and nutrients in runoff.The 1996 Farm Bill
        created a major new opportunity to prevent pollution
        and restore watersheds through a focused effort to put
        conservation buffers in place in every rural watershed in
        this country. USDA will take the following actions to
        promote conservation buffers on agricultural lands:
           KEY ACTION: By 2002, USDA, working with federal,
           state, tribal, and private partners, will establish two
           million miles of conservation buffers on agricultural
           lands to prevent pollution and help meet water quality
           goals. USDA will review and increase, where appropri-
           ate, the incentives available under the Conservation
           Reserve Program continuous sign-up, the Environ-
           mental Quality Incentives Program, the Wetlands
           Reserve Program, and the Forestry and Stewardship

Watershed Restoration  at Pike Run in Pennsylvania                 --~~^ "           "™"
i                                          -
"    The Pike Run Watershed Restoration Project in Pennsylvania demonstrates the effectiveness of including habitat restoration techniques in a
     values and better livestock health, and by providing excellent habitat for a variety of wildlife. Alternative livestock water structures have been
F    constructed, almost 22 miles of'riparian restoration has been completed, atotal of40 wetland acres have been restored by fencing cattle out of degraded
     wetlands, and approximately 1,000 acres of native warm season grasses have been planted. The project included broad-based partnerships among
S    the Fish and Wildlife Service,  EPA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ducks Unlimited, Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Audubon Society,
r   and many other public and private partnerships under the Partners For Wildlife and Clean Water Act section 319 nonpoint source programs.
Incentives Programs to ensure that incentives are
adequate to establish two million miles of buffers
by 2002.

KEY ACTION: USDA will reserve four million acres
from the Conservation Reserve Program for the
establishment of conservation buffers.

KEY ACTION: USDA, working through a National
Conservation Buffer Team and the National
Buffer Council, will pursue partnerships with the
private sector, farm and conservation organizations,
and states, tribes, and federal agencies to develop a
coordinated campaign to encourage landowners to
put conservation buffers on their farms and ranches.

KEY ACTION: USDA will issue a Federal Register
notice by early 1998 announcing the availability
of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
(CREP) and providing programmatic and administra-
tive guidance to states for submitting proposals
for CREP agreements.

                                         clean water actipn
   chapter II
   KEY ACTION: USDA will work with states to help
   develop proposals leading to as many CREP agree-
   ments as practicable to address critical water
   quality, soil erosion, and fish and wildlife habitat
   needs, including those for threatened and
   endangered species.

 In implementing these actions, the Departments of the
 Interior, Commerce, and other federal agencies will work
 cooperatively with private landowners to develop increased
 flexibility in conserving fish and wildlife habitat while pro-
 viding regulatory certainty and assurances to non-federal
 landowners.These efforts include the development of
 Candidate Conservation Agreements with assurances for
 private property owners, the streamlining of the habitat
 conservation planning process, and the development of the
 "Safe Harbor" policy that assures landowners that
 voluntary improvements to habitat will not restrict
 long-term land use options.

Agricultural Marketing and Promotion Orders

 Improving land stewardship and reducing polluted runoff
from agricultural lands depends on the management
decisions of farmers and ranchers across the United
States. The work of these private individuals is ultimately
responsible for preventing pollution. A key element
of this effort is to engage the  private sector directly
by creating innovative, market-based
incentives to improve the management
of agricultural lands.

The Commodity Promotion, Research and
Information Act of 1996, part of the 1996
Farm Bill, authorizes the Secretary of
Agriculture, in partnership with agricultural producers,
to establish "marketing and promotion orders." The pur-
pose of such orders is to help agricultural producers
develop new markets and promote their products.
Helping producers meet their conservation objectives
is also a stated purpose of establishing marketing and
promotion orders.

Marketing and production orders are self-financing.
They are funded through deductions or"check-offs"from
private commodity transactions with oversight from USDA.
Producers, processors, and importers pay the assessments
and control how the funds are spent.

To date, most of these check-off funds have been used
for marketing, promotion and research. Recently, however,
producers have been exploring opportunities to use these
self-help funds for conservation purposes.The National
Pork Board, for example, is funding an Environmental Audit
program that helps pork producers manage environmental
                       The Pike Run Watershed in Pennsylvania has benefited from
                       the restoration of riparian areas, which increase property
                       values and water quality at the same time. (Pictures shown are
                       from a similar project in Virginia.)

                                             restore and protect watersheds ClWptpr 11
In 1996, N«w York, Vermont, and EPA agreed to reduce the annual phosphorus load to Lake
OumpWfl by 57 metric tons within 20 years. To provide an incentive for farmers to reduce their
nonjsalnt source contributions, Vermont now offers farmers state funds to supplement federal
cost share programs for implementing best management practices through the USDA.
        problems on their farms.The use of marketing and promo-
        tion orders to support pollution prevention is a significant
        opportunity to engage farmers, ranchers, and other sectors
        of the agricultural production system directly, through self-
        directed and self-funded activities, in preventing pollution
        from agricultural lands.
   KEY ACTION: USDA will work with agricultural
   producers to encourage the use of marketing and
   promotion orders to assist them in meeting their
   pollution prevention objectives.

Reduce Risks Associated with
More Efficient Fertilizer and Pesticide Use

Many new and innovative technologies have been devel-
oped that both improve the efficiency of fertilizers and
pesticides and reduce the potential for these agricultural
chemicals to run off into lakes and streams. In many cases,
these innovative technologies promise to both protect the
environment and  improve the producer's bottom  line. In
general, these new technologies allow farmers to apply
chemicals precisely when and where they are needed,
based on better information about actual  levels of pest
infestations or nutrient requirements gathered while the
crop is growing.

For example, a producer may apply nitrogen fertilizer
based on a new soil testing technology that estimates the
nitrogen required by a crop already growing in the field.
This technology allows the farmer to match the amount of
fertilizer applied much more closely  to the needs  of the
crop. In the process, the farmer increases efficiency and
reduces the potential for nitrogen to run off or leach into
the environmentThere are many other examples of new
technologies used for nutrient management, integrated
pest management, and management of irrigation systems.

Such new technologies can be effective pollution preven-
tion measures, but they do  present new risks for the
producers. In the  example described above, the farmer

                                            clean water action plan CflflMd' 11
                                                      '••i;<'<*i/'ii''f~   3
                                            restore and protectAMatersheds fUffhttT II
                                                            f^V/'//•//!•»  I
          recognition program to identify agricultural products
          produced under sound environmental management

       Polluted runoff is the greatest source of water quality
       problems in the United States today. Polluted runoff is
       rainwater and snowmelt that moves across the land,
       picking up pollutants and delivering them to streams, rivers,
       lakes, wetlands, and coastal waters. Polluted runoff, as the
       term is used in this Action Plan, is generated by many activi-
       ties managed by states, territories, and tribes as nonpoint
       source pollution, as well as a number of activities that may
       be regulated  as point sources under the Clean Water Act.
Bad River Watershed, South Dakota	
1    The Bad River watershed, 3,172 square miles that drain into the
     Missouri River, did not support certain uses such as sport fishing
     because of the large amount of sediment entering the system.
     Many partners, including USDA Farm Services Agency, Natural
     Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Geological Survey,,Fish and
i    Wildlife Service, EPA, and other state, local, and  environmental
if   organizations, agreed to set up a project to demonstrate the array
:    of practices that can help alleviate the sediment problem. These
     measures include erosion control structures, riparian re-vegetation,
[    range seedings, water spreader systems, and alternative stock
!    watering facilities. The result of this section 319 project has been
,	a significant reduction from 82.7 tons of sediment per acre/foot of
     runoff in 1990, to an average annual sediment deposit of 10.2 tons
i    per acre-foot measured in 1993 through 1995.
The 1996 National Water Quality Inventory, which summa-
rizes state surveys of water quality in the United States,
indicates that about 40 percent of surveyed U.S. water
bodies are impaired by pollution, with the leading source
being polluted runoff. About 70 percent of impaired rivers
and streams and 49 percent of lakes are impaired by runoff
or discharges from agriculture.While the nation has begun
to make progress in controlling polluted runoff, meeting
clean water goals in the next decade and beyond will
require picking up the pace of this effort.

The development and implementation of plans to
restore water quality on a watershed  basis will result in
a significant reduction of polluted runoff. Chapter III of
this Action Plan presents a unified watershed assessment
and  restoration approach to pull together the many state,
tribal, and federal programs that can  help quicken the
pace of reducing polluted runoff. In addition to these
programs targeted to specific problem areas, more needs
to be done to prevent polluted runoff and to help ensure
that waters that are now meeting clean water goals
continue to do so.

Strengthen State and Tribal
Polluted Runoff Programs	
States and authorized tribes now implement general
programs to reduce polluted runoff under section 319 of
the Clean Water Act.These programs are successfully
preventing polluted runoff from a wide range of existing
facilities and locations and are helping to ensure that new
facilities and projects are designed to minimize polluted
runoff impacts. Actions to improve the effectiveness of
these programs are described in the following text.

                                        clean water artion plan rh/ft)tfr II
Help States and Tribes Implement
Strengthened Nonpoint Source Programs

The Clean Water Act provides for broad state and tribal
programs to address polluted runoff. Section 319 of the
Act identifies key elements of polluted runoff programs
and authorizes grants to states and tribes to develop and
implement the programs. EPA currently provides grants
to states and authorized tribes of about $100 million;
states and tribes provide a 40-percent match of these
federal funds.

In May 1996, EPA and the states reached agreement to
upgrade section 319 programs to prevent polluted runoff
to address nine key elements, including, among others,
establishing  short- and long-term goals and objectives;
strengthening working partnerships with all appropriate
public- and private-sector groups; focusing on impaired
waters and waters threatened by new sources and
activities; implementing better-focused programs to
address these problems; working to promote consistency
of federal programs among state and tribal nonpoint
source programs; and using monitoring and feedback
loops to ensure continued progress. One state has
developed program upgrades in all nine key areas;
many other  states are working toward that goal.

An essential feature of effective nonpoint source programs
will be the coordination and integration with other closely
related state- and tribal-managed water quality programs,
such as coastal nonpoint pollution control programs under
section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization
Amendments of 1990, source water protection programs
under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and total maximum
 daily load programs under section 303(d) of the Clean
 Water Act.The strengthening of partnerships as described
 above will ensure that all appropriate programs, authori-
 ties, and resources are used effectively and consistently to
 solve shared problems.

   KEY ACTION: EPA and other federal agencies will pro-
   vide technical assistance to states and tribes to help
   upgrade polluted runoff programs to address all nine
   key program elements. Beginning in FY1999, EPA and
   all states, territories, and tribes will expedite incorpo-
   ration of the nine key elements established in nation-
   al guidance into section 319 Nonpoint Source
   Management Programs. Also in FY 1999, EPA will
   advise states and tribes that, beginning in FY 2000,
   EPA will award any section 319 monies exceeding the
   $100 million authorized level only to those states and
   tribes that have incorporated all nine key elements
   into an approved section 319 Nonpoint Source
   Management Program.
Severe erosion along access roads on Cherokee tribal trust lands
was adding 150 tons of soil per acre each year to nearby streams,
degrading habitat for animals. With the help of an EPA Clean Water
Act section 319 grant, sections of the road were re-graded and
re-seeded to permanent vegetation. Since its completion, soil loss
has fallen to less than six tons of soil per year. Now, species of bear,
deer, and small game birds are active in the area and stream habi-
tats have improved; native trout have returned to many streams.

                                             restore and protectwatersheds
                                                             ""' •   ;  '•  "
        Improve Anti-degradation
        Policies to Reduce Polluted Runoff
        EPA's water quality standards regulations require that
        each state and tribe adopt an anti-degradation policy to
        maintain and protect existing levels of water quality as
        part of their water quality standards. Where a state or
        tribe issues a discharge permit or takes other actions
        related to water bodies with good water quality, such
        actions must not increase water pollution levels.

        States and tribes may, however, allow some increase in
        water pollution levels, but not to such an extent that
        water quality standards are violated, where such
        increased  pollution is "necessary to accommodate
        important economic or social development." In allowing
        any degradation of waters with good water quality, the
        regulations require states and tribes to ensure that "all
        cost-effective and reasonable best management
        practices"be applied to reduce polluted runoff.
EPA has not defined this requirement for implementation
of polluted runoff controls in detail, and many states have
not developed procedures to ensure compliance with
this regulation.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will develop guidance that more
   specifically defines expectations and procedures
   for states to follow in fully implementing anti-
   degradation policies related to polluted runoff
   and will publish final guidance on this subject
   by December 1998.

Improve State and Tribal
Enforceable Authorities

An important component of an effective state program to
control polluted runoff is enforceable authority that can
be used to ensure that pollution controls are actually
implemented if voluntary efforts fail. States, EPA, and
NOAA have developed considerable experience with
Ohio Revolving Loan Fund Finances ConservatJorrEasement

     Ohio EPA recently awarded the first low-interest water pollution control loan to foster creek bank conservation. The Mure Conservancy received
     the $110,000 loan award to purchase a permanent conservation easement along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County. This is the first time The
     Nature Conservancy has obtained financing for stream restoration and protection from a state revolving loan fund established under the Clean
     A significant statewide water resource, the creek supports four state/federally listed endangered aquatic species, including the club shell mussel.
"     The 154-aae permanent conservation easement will prevent future development and will provide a buffer to The Edge ofAppalachia Preserve, a
     system managed by The Nature Conservancy. The Water Pollution Control Loan Fund is jointly administered by Ohio EPA and the Ohio Water
     Development Authority. Since 1989, this fund has loaned more than $1 billion fora variety of water pollution control projects.

                                        clean water action plan rtlUuTLl  II
                                                 mm   *
state enforceable policies and mechanisms for polluted
runoff in working with coastal states to develop coastal
nonpoint pollution control programs.The Environmental
Law Institute recently completed a study concluding that
nearly all states have some general authority to deal with
nonpoint source discharges that can be shown to result
in water pollution. However, the legal reach and practical
utility of these authorities vary widely.There is even wider
variability with respect to state authorities that specifically
address particular priority classes of sources (e.g., agricul-
ture, forestry or development) or priority watersheds.
   KEY ACTION: EPA and, in coastal states and
   territories NOAA, will promote by the year 2000
   the establishment of enforceable state and tribal
   authorities needed to ensure the implementation
   of nonpoint source controls to achieve water quality
   standards. EPA, in consultation with NOAA, will
   publish guidance describing existing and potential
   models of enforceable authority related to polluted
   runoff and will assist states and tribes in this effort.

Increase Commitment of Clean
Water Loan Funds to Polluted Runoff
The 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act created
State Revolving Loan Funds to finance the construction
of sewage treatment and other water pollution control
facilities. EPA provides annual grants to states to capitalize
the loan funds, and states provide a 20-percent match.
States then make low-interest loans to communities for
construction of water pollution control facilities. Money
repaid to the State Revolving Loan Fund is then loaned to
other communities to support additional projects.
The total value of the state funds is about $25 billion,
making over $2 billion in new loans each year, drawing on
both repayments of existing loans and capitalization
grants from the federal government. Although traditionally
used to finance sewage treatment facilities, loans are
used increasingly for projects to prevent polluted runoff.
About three percent of the total loans made to date are
for polluted runoff projects.

States indicate that some of the reasons for the small
number of loans for polluted runoff projects are that
sewage treatment projects have a higher priority than
polluted runoff projects, that the risk of loan default is
higher for polluted runoff control projects, and that potential
loan recipients usually prefer grants rather than loans.

The investment of state clean water loan funds in pollut-
ed runoff control projects could be increased if EPA
helped  states identify ways to reduce risks of loans for
polluted runoff projects, defined ways to identify polluted
runoff control projects in the planning process, and set
clear goals for increasing investments in these projects.
EPA will work with states and territories  to ensure that
state loan funds are used for the highest priority polluted
runoff projects that meet the programs'financial criteria.
   KEY ACTION: EPA will work with states to increase the
   number and dollar amount of loans made through
   clean water revolving loan fund programs for priority
   projects to prevent polluted runoff, with the goal of
I   increasing the annual percentage of funds loaned
   for this purpose to at least 10 percent (or about
   $200 million^byjhe year 2001. BFVVwMj[a|so_work	

                                             restore and protect watersheds uf/lptf)" //
Algae blooms K
                                        clean water action plan
 Under the Clean Water Act, states use pollutant criteria
 established by EPA as the basis for adopting water quality
 standards. Within three years of EPA issuance of applicable
 criteria, all states and tribes with water quality standards
 should have adopted water quality standards for
 nutrients. Where a state or tribe fails to adopt a water
 quality standard for nutrients within the three-year
 period, EPA will begin to promulgate the nutrient criteria
 appropriate to the region and water body type. When
 promulgated, the EPA standard would apply until a state
 or tribe adopts, and EPA approves, a revised standard.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will establish, by the year 2000,
   numeric criteria for nutrients (i.e., nitrogen and
   phosphorus) that are tailored to reflect the different
   types of water bodies (e.g., lakes, rivers, and estuaries)
   and the different ecoregions of the country, and
   will assist states in adopting numeric water quality
   standards based on these criteria over the following
   three years. If a state does not adopt appropriate
   nutrient standards, EPA will begin the process of
   promulgating nutrient standards.

Assess and Reduce Air Deposition of Nitrogen

 Nitrogen gas makes up 78 percent of the atmosphere.
However, bio-available nitrogen causes many health and
environmental problems. Nitrogen oxides in the air can
cause deep lung irritation and decrease lung function in
children who are active outdoors and can contribute
to the formation of ground-level ozone. Bio-available
nitrogen has also become a major concern in many
water bodies because it can  acidify lakes, cause algal
blooms, lower dissolved oxygen, and kill fish.
More than 23 million tons of nitrogen are emitted to the
atmosphere each year. About half of the nitrogen
compounds emitted from fossil-fuel-burning plants,
vehicles, and other sources in the United States are
deposited on U.S. watersheds. Nitrogen compounds are
released from a variety of other sources, including
application of fertilizers and manure, and publicly owned
treatment works. EPA has moved, under the Clean Air Act,
to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from new
vehicles and electric power plants since the 1970s. EPA
has proposed NOx emissions "budgets"for 22 states and
the District of Columbia to reduce regional NOx emissions
in the eastern United States. As the states take action
under their plans to meet the new ozone and particulate
standards, NOx emissions will be further reduced.

  KEY ACTION: EPA and NOAA will work with
  other federal, state, tribal, and local government
  agencies and others to better quantify the risks
  associated with atmospheric deposition of nitrogen
  compounds and other pollutants to water bodies.

  KEY ACTION: EPA will work through the TMDL
  program to evaluate the linkage of air emissions
  to the water quality impacts to help determine
  appropriate reduction actions. EPA will work with
  states, tribes, and federal land management agencies
  to employ both Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act
  authorities to reduce air deposition of nitrogen
  compounds and other pollutants that adversely
  affect water quality. EPA will develop a report on
  methods for this work by the spring of 1999.

                                    restore and protedLwatersheds uMpttT II
                                                   '.- I ' <• I //-.- -   J
Improve Subsurface Sewage Disposal
Decentralized wastewater systems currently serve about
25 percent of the U.S. population and approximately
37 percent of new development.The vast majority of
these systems are conventional onsite wastewater
systems (or sometimes cesspools).

States report that these wastewater systems have failed
because of inappropriate siting or design or inadequate
long-term maintenance and that septic tanks constitute
the third most common source of ground water
contamination. Onsite systems can also cause surface
water quality problems. Improved management of these
sources is essential to achieving water quality goals.

   KEY ACTION: In 1998, EPA will publish technical
   guidance providing detailed information on onsite
   sewage disposal management programs, perfor-
   mance standards, water conservation techniques,
   and alternative and innovative onsite disposal system
   designs. EPA will also, in 1999, develop voluntary
   national standards for onsite management programs
   that address siting, performance, design, and mainte-
   nance of these systems.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will promote the use, where appro-
   priate, of centralized management of decentralized
   wastewater systems.This initiative will include finan-
   cial and technical support of state, tribal, and local
   efforts to consolidate management of decentralized
   wastewater programs so that they are consistently
   managed and administered. Beginning in 1999, EPA
   will also fund projects that demonstrate how to over-
   come barriers to decentralized sewage management.
'r   EPA will publish guidance on the appropriate use of
   state loan funds to support these systems in 1999.

 Expand Clean Water Act Permit Controls
 The Clean Water Act provides that discharges of
 pollutants from a pipe or other point source are required
 to have a permit that limits the discharge as necessary to
 attain the water quality standard for the receiving waters.
 For many years, EPA and states worked to develop and
 issue permits to large point source dischargers, such as
 sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities. Recently,
 additional attention has been focused on point sources
 that discharge polluted runoff from urban areas and large
 facilities such as confined animal feeding operations.These
 permits are expected to make a significant contribution to
 reducing the water quality impacts of polluted runoff.

 Expand Control of Storm Water
 Runoff from Cities and Construction Sites
 Storm water runoff is one of the leading remaining
 causes of water quality problems in the United States. On
 December 16,1997, EPA proposed to expand controls of
 storm water runoff to cover smaller cities (with populations
 under 100,000) and for small construction sites (under five
 acres).This proposal builds on the storm water Phase I
 rule promulgated in 1990, which relies on Clean Water
 Act discharge permits to address runoff from cities with
 populations of more than 100,000 and from construction
 sites greater than five acres.The proposed Phase II storm
 water regulation provides a flexible approach that builds on

                                        clean water action nlan ulflhtPT II
the programs that are already in place in many areas.
The proposal recommends ways to adjust coverage as
appropriate to protect water quality in a watershed and
suggests how to give incentives for smart growth.

The Phase II storm water regulation promotes the use of
best management practices, such as preventing illicit
sewage connections and providing information to the
public about pollution prevention measures they can
undertake to minimize storm water impacts as part of a
municipal storm water program. For construction, best
management practices might include silt fencing and
sediment ponds to trap storm water runoff.

The benefits of controlling storm water runoff are numer-
ous. The reduction in flow and movement of sediment
reduces stream bank erosion, stream channeling and modi-
fications to stream habitat from shallower waters. Sediment
reduction will also greatly reduce the cost of dredging
reservoirs and navigation channels and will generate recre-
ation benefits, such as increased fishing and swimming
opportunities and protection of spawning grounds.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will publish final regulations in
   1999 on Phase II of the storm water program,
   consider public comments on the proposal, and
   work with states, tribes, municipalities, and the
   regulated community to make sure that storm water
   control measures are implemented as required.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will focus its compliance assis-
   tance and enforcement resources on addressing
   noncompliance with existing Phase I storm water
   requirements by targeting priority watersheds
   where storm water is of concern.

Polluted runoff associated with rapid growth in many American cities presents a challenge. Pictured here
is Portland,0regon.
Substantially Reduce Pollution
from Animal Feeding Operations

There are approximately 450,000 animal feeding
operations (AFOs) throughout the United States. AFOs
can range from small livestock production facilities with
few animals to extremely large production facilities
generating animal wastes equivalent in magnitude to
that produced by a medium-sized city. Improperly man-
aged AFOs, either singly, or in combination with other
AFOs or sources in a watershed, have been shown to
cause significant environmental and public health
concerns, including nutrient enrichment of surface and
ground waters, contamination of water supplies, fish
kills, and odors.

Of the 450,000 AFOs, only a  small percentage currently
have discharge permits under the Clean Water Act.
Research, technical assistance, voluntary installation of best
management practices, and educational programs have
contributed to significant progress, but have not adequately  .
addressed the scope of environmental impacts.

                                            restore and protect
Slormwiltr outflow.
        EPA has developed a draft AFO Strategy that outlines steps
        that it will take to minimize the environmental and public
        health effects of AFOs.The EPA draft strategy calls for
        improving data collection; expanding research on effects
        and control measures; increasing compliance assistance
        and enforcement with respect to applicable environmental
        laws and regulations;significantly expanding the number
        of Clean Water Act permits issued for CAFOs (with emphasis
        on the largest, unpermitted facilities); ensuring that permits
        address such activities as land application of animal waste;
        revising outdated regulations; and creating incentives for
        voluntary implementation of measures to protect the
        environment and public health.

           KEY ACTION: EPA will publish and, after public
           comments, implement an AFO Strategy for important
           and necessary EPA actions on standards and permits
           by March 1998.
        A broader strategy that covers key activities for both EPA
        and USDA will also be needed. EPA and USDA agree on the
        need for a joint, unified strategy to refocus the federal
government's technical,financial, and programmatic
efforts to more effectively address the environmental and
public health issues associated with AFOs.The unified
EPA/USDA National AFO Strategy will include the following
key elements, in addition to outlining the roles of involved

    • Coordinate program and intemgency cooperation.
      USDA and EPA will work together in common
      areas of interest, including data collection and
      management, technical standards development,
      monitoring, and establishment and tracking
      of appropriate environmental performance
      measures. For example, USDA will continue to
      review and revise comprehensive technical
      standards and educational programs for AFOs
      in cooperation with other federal agencies. In
      addition, USDA and EPA will develop a plan
      to ensure that appropriate management
      systems  are incorporated into Clean Water
      Act discharge permits  by states and EPA.

    • Develop  and implement comprehensive manage-
      ment systems for AFOs. USDA and EPA will work
      to establish environmentally sustainable sys-
      tems that will offer practical and cost-effective
      approaches to managing manures and carcass-
      es. For example, USDA and EPA will establish
      comprehensive and verifiable management
      systems  for AFOs by 2002, engage stakeholders
      to achieve use of farm-specific nutrient budgets
      for at least 50 percent  of AFOs by 2005, and
      promote development of marketable products


                                    clean water action fAan
 from animal wastes and carcasses from 1998
 onward. Comprehensive management systems
 should be incorporated into Clean Water Act
 discharge permits issued by EPA and states. EPA
 will work with states to issue Clean Water Act
 discharge permits to all Confined Animal
 Feeding Operations (i.e., the largest facilities
 with more than 1,000 animal units) by 2005.

• Revise and strengthen existing permit regulations.
 EPA will work with USDA and states to revise
 the Clean Water Act discharge regulations,
 including comprehensive management mea-
 sures (e.g., land application), by 2002; revise the
 existing feedlots effluent limitations guideline
 for poultry and swine by 2001  and for beef and
 dairy cattle by 2002; and develop improved
 tools for writing discharge permits under
 current regulations (e.g., case-by-case designation
 guidance and guidance on establishing best
 management practices and technology require-
 ments) by the end of 1998.

 Provide incentives to enhance environmental
 protection. Federal agencies will encourage
 environmental protection beyond that required
 by regulatory controls through new initiatives
 such as an awards program recognizing efforts
 by AFOs to reduce pollution (by 2000); through
 the provision of incentives for the conversion of
 animal wastes into marketable products (by
 2004); and through the formation of a
 public/private partnership to create market
 incentives to improve environmental

• Develop a coordinated plan for research. Federal
 agencies will, in coordination with stakeholders,
 develop a coordinated plan for research,
 development, and assessment that establishes
 priorities for developing ways to better manage
 nutrients, pathogens,and other pollutants;
 modify animal diets to reduce nutrients in
 manure; mitigate sites with excess pollutants;
 and assess impacts of best management
 practices from farm and watershed perspectives.

1 Develop watershed nutrient budgets. Federal
 agencies will determine the relative contributions
 of nutrients in watersheds from all sources.
 USDA will publish by  1998 data on counties
 having potential nutrient excess from animal
 manure. EPA and USDA will estimate by 2000 a
 baseline of nutrient loads to the watersheds
 identified above from animal  data, fertilizer
 sales, Census of Agriculture, permit limits, and
 other estimates. USDA will revise the Census of
 Agriculture to include waste management prac-
 tices by the 2002 Census.
 Target activities to priority watersheds. Federal
 and state agencies should ensure that activities
 such as permitting, inspections, enforcement,
 funding, education, outreach, and technical

                                   restore and protect watersheds/W^//''/' //
     assistance for AFOs are targeted to priority
     watersheds. For example, EPA, with support from
     USDA, states, and tribes, will identify by 1999
     watersheds at greatest risk from AFOs. EPA and
     USDA will develop criteria for and demonstrate
     the effectiveness of targeting coordinated assis-
     tance and federal environmental subsidies to
     states and AFOs by 2000. EPA will also increase
     enforcement of existing permits and unpermit-
     ted discharges, require new permits where
     appropriate, and use emergency powers to
     address situations presenting an imminent and
     substantial endangerment, where appropriate.
    • Encourage establishment of a certification
     program.The Strategy will encourage
     establishment of a certification program
     to ensure effective development and
     implementation of management systems
     for unpermitted AFOs.

  KEY ACTION: EPA and USDA will jointly develop a
  unified national strategy to minimize the environ-
  mental and public health impacts of AFOs.This
  Unified Strategy will be published for public review
  and comment in July 1998 and will be finalized in
  November 1998.

Develop Incentives For
Reducing Polluted Runoff	
Federal agencies will work with diverse stakeholders to
develop creative, new approaches to reducing polluted
runoff, including expanding recognition of the benefits of
"smart growth" policies and considering innovative tax
policies for preventing water pollution and enhancing
natural resources.

Smart Growth

Many state, tribes, and local governments and community
organizations are engaging in efforts to create more
sustainable communities and to avoid development
that can aggravate polluted runoff and related pollution
problems that undermine their quality of life.
Development patterns can needlessly generate excessive
pollution control costs and discourage the redevelopment
and re-population of vital urban areas. Maryland and
Oregon have already established groundbreaking policies
to ensure "smart growth."

   KEY ACTION: In the current effort to develop federal
   policies and actions to strengthen America's commu-
   nities, the Interagency WorkGroup on Sustainable
   Communities will identify new mechanisms and
   needed revisions to existing policy to support locally
   initiated smart growth efforts that have benefits for
   water quality.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will develop a means to credit pollu-
   tion load  reductions from local growth management
   efforts in the Total Maximum Daily Loads submitted
   by states and tribes to EPA under the Clean Water Act.

   KEY ACTION: The Council on Environmental Quality
   will develop guidance to ensure that National
   Environmental Policy Act analysis fully considers
   the secondary impacts that can be avoided by
   smart growth policies.

                                       clean water action plan. (fluDTCt IJ
                                                       Over the next several years, it is likely that Congress will
                                                       consider a range of amendments to the tax code. For
                                                       Congress to consider tax incentives related to water
                                                       pollution control and natural resource enhancement,
                                                       more work must be done to identify the full range of
                                                       possible measures, explore the effectiveness of measures
                                                       that now exist at the state level, and evaluate relative
                                                       costs and environmental and public health benefits of
                                                       various proposals.
    Tax Incentives to Encourage Improved Stewardship

    Tax incentives can be a powerful method for influencing
    private-sector actions for pollution prevention and
    improving natural resource management.

    Implementing tax incentives related to water quality and
    natural resource enhancement would require amendments
    to the tax code. Several states have developed tax incentives
    for landowners to develop farm conservation plans. Other
    states are considering tax incentives that would encourage
    "smart growth" practices, support the development of
    easements for critical lands such as wetlands and lands
    providing buffers for streams and riparian areas, and define
    opportunities for exchanges of "debt for easement" with
    participants of USDA and other federal lending programs.

    National water quality is heavily influenced by the
    character and management of private lands. Private forest
    lands comprise a significant share of critical watersheds.
    Trends in land ownership and development are causing
    the loss of critical watershed functions of substantial
    amounts of these lands.The current tax code can be a
    disincentive to hold these as forested lands.Tax incentives
    also can help landowners invest in best management
    practices that maintain and enhance water quality.

Baltimore County has developed a comprehensive county-wide watershed management strategy for its population of more than 700,000 people
and more than 2,000 miles of streams. Developed through the consensus of a steering committee with broad and diverse local interests,
the strategy and its corresponding regulations conserve forests and rural countryside and organize over $24 million in county resources for
watershed-based stream, wetland, ana(forest restoration; citizen participation; storm waterretrofit; andwaterway cleanup.
                                                         KEY ACTION: An interagency task force will,in
                                                         consultation with the Department of the Treasury,
                                                         identify and assess tax incentive proposals related
                                                         to water pollution prevention and natural resource
                                                         enhancement and identify potential changes, with any
                                                         appropriate offsets, for proposal in future budgets.

                                                       IMPROVE INFORMATION AND
                                                       CITIZENS'RIGHT TO KNOW

                                                       Today, the dramatic advances in information technology
                                                       have created a good opportunity to provide people with
                                                       significantly improved information about the quality of
                                                       waters where they live. Over the next several  years, water
                                                       quality information will become much more understandable
                                                       to the public, more specific to waters that are of interest to

                                             restore and protect watershefo/fflw»''/  //
TVA biologists are working with the U.S. Geological Survey in the Upper Tennessee River project for the
National Water Quality Assessment program.
        individuals, and more accessible using tools such as the
        Internet. By embracing this new technology, federal, tribal,
        state, and local agencies have the opportunity to empower
        citizens and foster a dramatic increase in public involvement
        in water quality planning and management.

        Improve Monitoring and Assessment
        Improved information on the conditions of water bodies and
        health of aquatic systems will support improved water pollu-
        tion control programs and build public understanding of
        water pollution problems. A top priority for water monitoring
        is better information on nutrient over-enrichment of waters.

        Better Monitor and Characterize
        the Condition of Water Resources
        Improvements in monitoring, research, and assessments
        are needed to provide consistent and reliable information
        on the condition of, and threats to, aquatic resources,
        including habitat alteration, polluted runoff, and point
        source discharge. Much of the information is fragmentary
        and incompatible because it is collected through programs
        that are designed and conducted at different scales or for
different objectives (compliance versus resource assess-
ment), and because standards are inconsistent for
sampling methodology and data management and
sharing. The National Water Quality Monitoring Council
and the Administration's Environmental Monitoring and
Research Initiative are vehicles to enhance reliable informa-
tion and effective management of water resources.

The National Water Quality Monitoring Council, recently
convened by the Department of the Interior, serves as the
major national forum for the coordination of consistent
and scientifically defensible federal and state water quality
monitoring methods and strategies. Such strategies are
intended to improve understanding of different impacts,
such as polluted runoff and habitat alteration, on water
quality and to define a national agenda of needed
monitoring, research, and assessment models and tools.

The Environmental Monitoring and Research Initiative,
organized through the National Science and Technology
Council's Committee on Environment and Natural Resources,
is designed to integrate ongoing federal monitoring and
assessments at watershed, regional, and national scales and
connect to state, local, and non-governmental efforts.The
Initiative is structured to monitor and assess interactions
among land use, land-management practices, and water
and air quality at the watershed scale, and to link that
understanding to regional and national conditions through
modeling and remotely sensed information.The  Initiative
thereby facilitates evaluation of progress made in water-
shed restoration, as well as improves capacity to manage
polluted runoff, alteration, and water diversions within a
regional and national context. A demonstration of the
feasibility and effectiveness of integrated monitoring was

                                       _clean water action  lan CndMCl" Li
 initiated as a pilot program in the Mid-Atlantic region
 in 1997. A Report Card on the health of the nation's
 ecosystems will be produced by 2001.

   KEY ACTION:The National Water Quality Monitoring
   Council will, by the end of 2000, compare sampling
   and laboratory methods and protocols leading to
   performance-based acceptable methods; establish
   reference parameters for specific monitoring
   purposes; identify core environmental indicators;
   establish consistent use of biological metrics; and
   develop guidelines on quality assurance and control.

   KEY ACTION:The National Water Quality Monitoring
   Council, in coordination with the Committee on
   Environment and Natural Resources, will publish a
   national report describing current state of monitoring
   and models for assessing sources and impacts of
   polluted runoff; critical gaps and targeted areas in
   need of monitoring and  modeling; priority polluted
   runoff research and assessment projects; and
   recommendations for improvements, including
   institutional roles and reporting of results at
   watershed, tribal, state, and national levels.
Identify Sources, Transport, and
Impacts of Polluted Runoff in Watersheds
More accurate estimates of the sources, transport, and
impacts of polluted runoff are needed to guide the imple-
mentation of management actions. Effective monitoring of
polluted runoff is challenging because of many variables,
including intensity of storms, the time of year, and a mosaic
 of different environmental settings and land uses.
 Because of its wide distribution, monitoring alone
 cannot adequately characterize polluted runoff.

 Better survey methods and computerized models are
 needed, with special attention given to determine the
 location and relative contribution of sources of nitrogen
 and phosphorus.This includes isotope studies to pinpoint
 sources from animal feeding operations versus chemical
 fertilizers; remote sensing; soil and water sampling devices;
 and source identification of sediments. Polluted runoff
 models need to better predict the timing and magnitude
 of contaminant loads at local, regional, and national scales
 under alternative land-management strategies because
 of the time lag between implementation of strategies and
 improvements in water quality and because of the variability
 in different environmental settings and land use.

 Modeled estimates need to be validated using available
water quality data from stations at the mouth of the
watersheds. Improved USDA terrestrial surveys and input
are needed on forest health, forest and agricultural
chemical use, crop production and tillage practices,
animal waste disposal practices, animal feeding opera-
tions, and basin characteristics that are important to
movement of soil and chemicals from land to water.
Relative contributions and transport of atmospheric
nitrogen are also needed in the modeling process.

   KEY ACTION: DOI, USDA, EPA, and NOAA, in concert
   with the Committee on Environment and Natural
   Resources and other federal and state agencies, will,
   bythe year 2000, modellandI produce estimates of	

                                    restore and pmtPrt watei-sheds^/'//^^' //
   inputs, nutrient utilization (by major source category),
   transport, and net contributions of nitrogen and
   phosphorus in watersheds across the nation.

Measuring Progress and Reporting Results
Long-term monitoring and modeling are needed to track
water-quality improvements overtime that are associated
with the implementation of best management practices
and other programs designed to reduce nutrients.
Concurrent efforts will be undertaken to identify where
management practices are being implemented to reduce
nutrients so that program efforts can be correlated to
water quality changes.This information will be an important
contribution to the Nation's Environmental Report Card.

   KEY ACTION: In 1999, EPA, in collaboration with other
   federal agencies and states, will initiate a tracking
   system to report key indicators of the success of
   programs to reduce nutrient runoff to waters.

Improve Reporting of Point Source Discharges
EPA and most states require point source dischargers to
monitor the levels of pollutants in their effluents and, in
some cases, to monitor conditions in receiving waters.
However, since these point source dischargers monitor and
report only those pollutants specified in the Clean
Water Act discharge permits, monitoring for nitrogen or
phosphorus often is not required.

Standardizing the monitoring and reporting required as
part of discharge permits for key pollutants, particularly
nutrients, is needed to support more consistent assessment
of their extent and sources. In addition, greater use of
modeling techniques, validated with monitoring data, is
necessary to expand knowledge of loadings. Federal
agencies should work with clean water permit authorities,
watershed planners, and the regulated community to
adjust frequency and parameter coverage of required
compliance monitoring, and link compliance monitoring
and reporting with ambient water quality monitoring to
produce information that supports management needs,
consistent with recent revisions to the National Pollution
Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program.

   KEY ACTION: In 1999, EPA, in cooperation
   with other federal agencies, states, tribes, and
   the National Water Quality Monitoring Council,
   will standardize monitoring and reporting by
   point source dischargers to support water
   quality and watershed management
   information needs.

 Citizens'Right to Know	
 Most information about the condition of rivers, lakes
 and coastal waters has been collected and managed by
 government agencies. Much of this information, however, is
 difficult for the public to locate and understand. Government
 agencies report on the condition of waters periodically, but
 these reports commonly describe conditions at a state or
 national level, rather than in a water body or watershed.
 Today, new management and communication tools have
 made it possible to make information about the condition
 of waters more accessible to the public and to provide
 information that is more specific to waters or watersheds.

                                        clean water artior. plan ffl/Mf'T II
                                                  t,t/l s-*Lf
Water Information Network
Federal agencies have tremendous amounts of informa-
tion on services, programs and watershed conditions that
may help the public to better understand water quality
issues, but tracking down this information and expertise
can be complicated and time consuming. Just a few
examples of these programs and services illustrate how
extensive this information is.

    •  The Flood Plain Management Services
      published by the Corps provides
      information on flood hazards and the
      actions people can take to reduce property
      damage and to prevent the loss of life
      caused by flooding.

    •  The National Park Service's Rivers,Trails, and
      Conservation Assistance program provides
      river-related assistance at the request of
      community partners, helping local organiza-
      tions piece together resources from federal
      and nonfederal sources needed for  restoration
      and protection activities.

    •  The Natural Resources Conservation Service
      (NRCS) provides assistance through the
      Environmental Quality Incentives Program,
      the Wetlands Reserve Program, the
      Conservation Reserve Program, the  Farmland
      Protection Program, the Wildlife Habitat
      Incentives Program, Conservation Compliance,
      and the Emergency Watershed Protection
 Program. NRCS also provides leadership to
 Resource Conservation and Development
 (RC&D), a unique program that brings diverse
 groups of local volunteers together to identify
 issues and opportunities to protect their
 natural resources.

The U.S. Geological Survey collaborates with
federal, state, local, and private organizations
from across the country to coordinate monitor-
ing activities and meet the nation's water
information needs.This initiative includes coop-
erative programs to collect, store, analyze, and
disseminate water-quantity, water-use,
and water-quality information locally and
nationally, as well as various projects to
support specific water quality and resource
management activities.

The Fish and Wildlife Service establishes
partnerships with private landowners to restore
important wildlife habitats for the benefit of
public trust species.The North American
Waterfowl Conservation Act is one of many
examples of tools being applied to make funding
more accessible to small-scale, local community
groups and conservation organizations.

NOAA is developing a database summary of its
own and EPA's approvals and findings on State
Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Programs.
Once completed in 1998, the database will

                                       restore and protect watersheds CWlpttT II
        contain information about each of the 29 states
        with coastal nonpoint programs, including
        information about management measures,
        legal authorities, exclusions, approval
        conditions, and success stories, for transfer
        to other states, territories, and communities.

        Both NOAA and USDA provide training and
        education for municipal officials, land use
        planners, and community groups on available
        best management practices and technologies
        to curb polluted runoff, current scientific
        information, and watershed planning. With
        NOAA's assistance, states and communities
        have used the Special Area Management
        Planning Process under the Coastal Zone
        Management Act to protect particular
        watersheds or other sensitive areas.
Sutf Your Watershed helps you io locale your watershed and environmental information
(Btef rfl*p« *$ pictured below or in other w»ys such as zip code, school, or city name.

    • NOAA is developing a Geographical
      Information System to map, monitor, and
      assess the quantity and quality of essential
      fish habitat.
A "road map"to finding this information is needed.The
road map could be organized into categories such as
financial assistance, regulations, planning, environmental
data, and hands-on assistance to help make it easy to
find information.

   cooperation with other federal agencies, will create
   a new, Internet-based Water Information Network
   to provide consolidated information on water and
   watershed programs and services.

Water Resources in Your Watershed
EPA recently established an Internet home page called
"Surf Your Watershed." Anyone with an Internet connec-
tion  can go to this home page and locate the watershed
where they live. Citizens can then select from a menu of
diverse information about the condition of water resources
in their watershed, including information on chemical cont-
amination of surface waters, wetlands loss rates, sediment
contamination, and vulnerability to future water quality
problems. Using this information, EPA's Index of Watershed
Indicators provides the public with a guide to understanding
the degree of existing water quality problems in each
watershed and the relative vulnerability of the watershed
to future contamination.

EPA maintains  a major national repository of water quality
monitoring data called "STORET." The monitoring data in

                                       clean water action plan UlflMPT II
the STORE! system covers 25 years and provides a
detailed record of water quality conditions and prob-
lems throughout the country. Access to the STORE!
database has largely been used by federal, state, tribal,
and local agencies, but EPA has developed new tools
to make STORE! accessible to private citizens and
organizations via the Internet starting in 1999.

   KEY ACTION: EPA will collaborate with other
   federal agencies, states, and tribes to develop a
   state-of-the-art information system, building on the
   Index of Watershed Indicators, Surf Your Watershed,
   and STORET to present meaningful information to the
   public over the Internet about the health of aquatic
   systems in each of the more than 2,000 watersheds
   in the country.

If' »r ,,«:/'	••*?

                                             clean water action plan
Americas Utitershids:  The Key to Clean  Ufiter
            For the past 25 years, most water pollution con-
            trol efforts focused on nationwide programs that
     addressed various types of water pollution problems,
     such as discharges from sewage treatment plants and
     factories and polluted runoff, wherever they occur.These
     baseline, national programs have dramatically reduced
     water pollution and need to be maintained, and in some
     cases, expanded. Strengthening these baseline programs,
     as provided for in Chapter II of this Action Plan, is critical
     to making sure that clean rivers, lakes, and coastal waters
     stay clean into the next century.

     Today, however, there is a growing recognition of the
     need to better coordinate and tailor the implementation
                                         of national
"Forests, rivers, reefs,ocean depths...are
not separate and independent entities;
 they are interrelated parts of the total
   -   system, the world of life." „
                               «e *-*»,:
                      -Marston Bates
                                            in specific
                                            areas, such
                                            as watersheds,
                                            where water
       quality is impaired or needs to be protected. Watershed
       management has several major benefits:

           •  A watershed approach fosters the coordinated
             and more efficient implementation of
             programs to control point source discharges,
             reduce polluted runoff, enhance sensitive
             natural resources such as wetlands and coastal
             waters, and protect drinking water supplies.
           •  A watershed approach highlights opportunities
             to go beyond reducing chemical contamina-
      tion of water to find creative ways to enhance
      the overall health of the aquatic system in
      a watershed.

    • Watershed management fosters greater
      accountability and involvement from the
      public, private landowners, and businesses
      who, in the end, directly implement measures
      to reduce polluted runoff.
    • A watershed focus also helps identify the most
      cost-effective pollution control strategies to
      meet clean water goals.

At the same time that watershed solutions to water quality
problems are gaining momentum, federal, tribal, state, and
local governments are increasingly focusing attention on
specific geographic areas where water quality problems
persist. Some water quality problems occur as isolated
degradation of a small stretch of river or area of a lake and
can be corrected with a single control action. Many of
the remaining water pollution problems, however, are
clustered together and are the result of multiple, diverse
sources within a watershed. Further, multiple solutions are
often required to meet multiple water quality objectives
(e.g., to protect drinking water and enhance wetlands).
A watershed approach is often the most practical and ,
effective way to solve multiple problems and meet diverse
water quality objectives.

Many state, tribal, and regional governments are already
managing clean water programs on a watershed basis
and federal agencies are encouraging and fostering these
efforts.This Action Plan calls for states, tribes, federal


                                        ctean water artion plan
 agencies, and others to affirmatively engage watershed
 management as a core, guiding principle for water
 quality management. Specifically, the Action Plan
 proposes to accelerate progress toward watershed
 management with action in several areas:

     • A new cooperative, intergovernmental, and
       public process to assess watershed condition,
       including a public and accountable identifica-
       tion of watersheds where aquatic systems do
       not meet clean water and other natural
       resource goals.

     •  Implementation of diverse actions to restore
       watershed health on a watershed basis,
       supported by substantially increased federal
       resources in FY1999 targeted to watershed
     •  Affirmative efforts to build watershed
       partnerships to speed protection and
       restoration of all watersheds.
     •  An institutional framework to promote and
       support watershed assessment, restoration,
       and management, including a new
       National Watershed Forum made up of
       diverse public and private sector
Many of the Key Actions identified in Chapter II of
this Action Plan are designed to support, and provide
accountability for, the watershed process proposed
here, especially efforts that strengthen the nation's
efforts  to address polluted runoff.
State, tribal and federal agencies currently use multiple
processes to assess water quality and other natural
resource conditions. States, interstate commissions, and
tribes monitor water quality and identify waters and
watersheds not meeting clean water goals through
various means:

    • Under section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act,
      collecting water quality information and
      reporting on the condition of waters every
      two years.

    • Under section 303{d) of the Act, using monitor-
      ing and other water quality information to
      develop lists of waters not meeting clean water
      goals and needing response actions to restore
     water quality. New lists of problem waters and
     schedules for implementation plans for listed
     waters are to be developed by April 1998.

    • Under section 319 of the Act, identifying water
     bodies that are impaired by nonpoint sources
     of pollution.

    • Working with EPA and other federal agencies
     to organize diverse information concerning
     watershed health and to present this informa-
     tion for each of the over 2,000 watersheds in
     the country. Included are data on wetland loss,
     sediment contamination, discharge permit
     violations, and related factors.

    •  Conducting assessments of drinking water
      sources required under the Safe Drinking Water
      ActThese assessments will form a basis for
      actions to protect sources of drinking water.

    •  Developing project priority systems for clean
      water and drinking water state loan funds.

    •  With federal agencies, conducting flood plain
      studies and developing appropriate plans.

    •  Identifying coastal water quality problem areas
      as part of efforts to reduce polluted runoff to
      coastal waters.

    •  Developing assessments of wetland areas that
      need special attention or protection.
Federal agencies also use a diverse set of processes to
identify watershed restoration and protection priorities
for federal programs:

    • The Natural Resources Conservation Service
      and Farm Services Agency use a locally led
      conservation process and state technical
      committees comprised of state and federal
      agencies and private organizations to
      recommend priorities for agricultural
      conservation programs to protect and
      restore water quality.
    • The U.S. Forest Service,the BLM, and the Fish
      and Wildlife Service use a variety of watershed
      assessment processes to identify critical
      watersheds on public lands that need
      restoration and protection.
    • Recovery plans prepared under the Endangered
      Species Act identify watersheds that need
      restoration to enhance aquatic habitat

Federal agencies are working with states, tribes, and others
to address water resource issues in specific areas of the
country.These federal efforts support state actions to
assess and address critical areas. Areas where federal
agencies are now working include:

     • the Chesapeake Bay;
     • the Everglades;
     • the Great Lakes;
     • the Gulf of Mexico;
     • the San Francisco Bay-Delta;
     • the Northwest Forest;
     • the National Estuary Program; and
     • the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.

This Action Plan provides a new opportunity to bring
together these multiple assessment processes to identify
common priorities for watershed restoration and protection.

Unified assessments of water quality and watershed
conditions will  help make the assessment process more
efficient and accountable, highlighting geographic areas
where multiple problems exist (e.g., chemical water
pollution, sediment contamination, wetland loss, and
threats to drinking water).These assessments will also
provide a basis for linking state, tribal, and federal
programs with common objectives and resolving
conflicting agency priorities.

States should take the lead, working with federal agencies,
tribes, and the  public, to prepare a single, Unified

                                       clean water action n|anf/MM?r ///
Watershed Assessment.This assessment should draw on
the full range of available information to:

    • Assess the health of watersheds and identify
      watersheds in need of restoration (i.e., water-
      sheds that do not now meet clean water and
      other natural resource goals). In identifying
      watersheds in need of restoration, state,
      tribal, and federal agencies should consider
      conventional clean water goals (i.e., attainment
      of water quality standards), other measures of
      aquatic system condition (i.e., wetlands and
      other aquatic habitat), and, to the extent
      practicable, the condition of living and natural
      resources. Watersheds in need of restoration
      will be targeted for new funding in the FY1999
      Clean Water and Watershed Restoration Budget
    • Identify watersheds that need preventive
      action to sustain water quality using ongoing,
      core state, tribal, and federal programs.
    • Identify pristine or sensitive watersheds on
      federal lands that need an extra measure
      of protection.

Federal agencies will work cooperatively with states
and provide guidance and technical assistance for uni-
fied watershed assessments. Federal land managers will
work cooperatively with states and  tribes to identify
impaired and sensitive watersheds on federal lands.
States should recognize and respect the views of tribes
on these matters and elicit public involvement in the
assessment process.The National Watershed Forum
(described later in this chapter) will provide a forum to
 ensure program and intergovernmental coordination
 and may assist with dispute resolution.
    KEY ACTION: States should work with other appropri-
    ate agencies, governments, organizations, and the
    public to create Unified Watershed Assessments that
    identify watersheds that do not meet clean water
    and other natural resource goals and where preven-
I    tion action is needed to sustain water quality and
s    aquatic resources. Federal agencies will ask state
!    conservationists and state environmental agency
L    leaders to jointly convene this process and to involve
    a full range of appropriate parties.

[-   KEY ACTION: Federal agencies will provide technical
    assistance or funding support for state efforts to
    develop unified assessments of watershed health.

 Federal,state, tribal, and local governments, in partnership
 with local communities and the private sector, need to
 establish a systematic process to  restore water quality and
 the health of the aquatic system in the approximately
 1,000 watersheds that do not now meet clean water,
 natural resource, and public health goals.

 The first stage of this effort should proceed over the next
 two-and-one-half years and include the following elements:

     •  define watershed restoration priorities;
     •  implement Watershed Restoration Action
       Strategies in 1999-2000 using diverse funding
       sources, including new federal funding

                                             restore and protect wati

   diopter III
              proposed for FY1999; and
            •  draft a progress report and recommend
              next steps at the end of the year 2000 and
              periodically thereafter.
        Define Watershed Restoration Priorities
        Based on the Unified Watershed Assessment, each state
        should establish an overall approach to defining priorities
        for watershed restoration.

        State processes for defining watershed restoration priorities
        will vary but should include the following core elements:
            • Criteria for defining watersheds that do not meet
             clean water goals and are most in need of restoration.
            • A long-term schedule for developing response
             plans, with focus on an initial schedule of actions
             in the 1999-2000 period

Unifying Clean Water Programswithin Watersheds^
    *,<.current federal and state environmental programs and policies
    are fragmented and do not adequately emphasize restoration based
    on management of large interconnected aquatic ecosystems. The
    diverse responsibility of all layers of government affecting aquatic
    resources needs to be better coordinated if large-scale restoration is
    to be accomplished efficiently and effectively. Because aquatic
    ecosystems are interconnected and interactive, effective restoration
    efforts should usually be conducted on a large enough scale to
    Mude all significant components of the watershed."
        • Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystems, National Research Service,
                             National Academy of Sciences, 1992
 • A process for involving diverse state and tribal
   agencies in setting watershed restoration
   priorities, including the agencies for water
   quality, drinking water, coastal zone manage-
   ment, agriculture, forestry, wildlife and fisheries,
   and transportation.
 • Consideration of existing restoration priorities,
   such as approved state priority rankings of
   impaired waters, priorities established in an
   approved National Estuary Program, Intended
   Use Plans for State Water Pollution Control and
   Drinking Water Revolving Funds, source water
   assessments, and environmental justice policies.
 •  Identification of interstate or intergovernmental
    coordination issues.
 •  A process for consulting with and involving
    tribal governments and applicable federal
    agencies including EPA, USDA, DOI, NOAA, and
    where applicable, federal land and resource
    management agencies.
 •  A process for involving local government, the
    public, and other interested groups in defining
    watershed restoration priorities.

KEY ACTION:  By October 1998, states and tribes
should work with appropriate agencies, organiza-
tions, and the public to define watershed restoration
priorities, with special attention to watersheds most
in need of restoration and protection.This schedule
must be coordinated with section 303(d) of the Clean
Water Act and provide an opportunity to bundle Total

                                        clean water action
   Maximum Daily Loads on a watershed scale.The
   schedule should identify the highest priority
   watersheds to be addressed in the first two years
   (through 2000).

   KEY ACTION: EPA, in cooperation with other federal
   agencies, states, and tribes, will upgrade the National
   Index of Watershed Indicators in 1998 to support
   unified watershed assessments and to assist in
   evaluating the priority-setting process.
[!			^		  -."__.,_,	.'	

 Watershed Restoration Action Strategies

 For waters identified as not meeting clean water goals,
 the current Clean Water Act requires states and tribes to
 develop and implement response  plans to restore the
 health of the water body.

 A first step in this process is development of a "total  maxi-
 mum daily load" (TMDL) that sets the pollution reduction
 goals for the water body. Once the overall reduction targets
 are set, the responsibility for attaining the targets is
 assigned to point source dischargers, and other sources of
 pollution, including polluted runoff, in the form of "waste-
 load/load allocations" for the water body. States and
 tribes are required to submit TMDLs (including wasteload
 and load allocations and a margin  of safety) to EPA for
 approval. EPA establishes the lists, priority rankings,and
 TMDLs where the Agency disapproves a state submission.

 This Action Plan proposes that, for those watersheds identi-
 fied as having the greatest need for restoration, states and
 tribes should develop a Watershed  Restoration Action
 Strategy for the watershed.
In most cases, the development of TMDLs and wasteload
allocations for specific impaired waters within the
watershed will form the core of a Watershed Restoration
Action Strategy. By taking a watershed approach,
however, states and tribes will be able to consolidate
existing efforts to address problems on specific water
bodies. By developing response plans on a "watershed"
scale, rather than a smaller "water body"scale, states and
tribes will be able to better account for cumulative effects
of diffuse pollution sources and for pollution in one river
segment that comes from upstream segments.

Watershed Restoration Action Strategies can be a smarter,
more effective and cost-efficient way to  implement TMDLs
and wasteload/load allocations.The TMDL process, however,
is generally used to address violations of chemical stan-
dards in rivers and streams. A Watershed Strategy creates
an opportunity to bundle TMDLs, to strike an appropriate
balance between controls over discharges and polluted
runoff, and to consider other water-related problems in
the watershed, including wetland loss, sediment contami-
nation, aquatic species habitat degradation, drinking water
protection, and health of riparian areas. By taking a more
comprehensive approach to restoring the health of the
aquatic system in the watershed, a Watershed Strategy can
result in improvements in environmental conditions that
are mutually reinforcing, with higher long-term success
rates. Water bodies impaired by polluted runoff in most
instances will require a watershed-wide effort to achieve
the necessary restoration and clean water goals.

Development of Watershed Restoration Action Strategies is
also an opportunity to identify and demonstrate innovative
approaches to restoring water quality and protecting

                                     restore and protect v
                                                                  iiapter ffl
public health and the environment. For example, in water-
sheds with approved TMDLs, federal agencies will work to
encourage programs based on the trading of pollutants to
                                       the TMDLs
                                       with appropri-
                                       ate safeguards
   New federal resources available in
  FY 199£ will be targeted to support
     -:.,-».  . 	j-fj. f'"'~i;-/""Vi,:4.5#:Si4fcS1^sS«S'Sv
                                                 ion plan
   KEY ACTION: Federal agencies will develop guidance
   on targeting expanded funding for FY1999.
In some cases, individual water segments with discrete
water pollution problems, including segments located
on federal or tribal lands, may need to be addressed
independently of a Watershed Restoration Action Strategy.
EPA and federal natural resource land management
agencies will continue to identify individual waters not
meeting clean water goals. Federal agencies will work
with states and tribes to provide them with assessment
information and help them develop TMDLs and
wasteload/Ioad allocations for these waters.

],   KEY ACTION: Federal land and resource manage-
   ment agencies will expand assistance and provide
   assessment information and tools to states and
i                    '
!•   tribes developing and implementing TMDLs on
   federal lands.

   KEY ACTION:The Bureau of Indian Affairs will provide
   technical assistance, grants and/or contracts to
   improve water quality on tribal lands.

 Watershed Restoration
Progress Report	
The federal government and the states should work closely
together to prepare periodic reports to the President, the
nation's governors, tribal leaders, and the public on the
progress of watershed restoration efforts and make recom-
mendations for adjustments to improve the program.The
National Watershed Forum (described later in this Chapter)
can help provide valuable advice and recommendations
from public- and private-sector interests. Reports will be
submitted at the end of the year 2000 and periodically

   KEY ACTION: EPA and USDA, in consultation with
   NOAA, DOI, and other federal agencies, the states, and
   the National Watershed Forum, will submit a
   Watershed Restoration Progress Report to the
!   President, the nation's governors, tribal leaders, and
'•,   the public, evaluating progress in implementing
;   restoration actions and recommending any actions
"   needed to improve progress toward meeting clean
   water goals. Reports will be provided at the end of
   the year 2000 and periodically thereafter.
 Federal, state, and tribal programs can help produce clean
 water and healthy watersheds, but the commitments and
 resources of local communities, private landowners, and
 citizens are essential to clean up and maintain lakes, rivers,
 coasts, and wetlands. Effective and strong partnerships are
 the foundation for both restoring impaired watersheds and
 sustaining watersheds that are currently healthy. Federal
 and state governments should commit to building and
 supporting partnerships among public and private
 parties, wherever and whenever they can, to restore and
 protect the health of all aquatic systems on a watershed basis.

 The benefits of watershed partnerships are well documented.
 They build grassroots constituencies with a commitment

                                             restore and protect
        M(T Iff
Wading Wed.

        to long-term environmental improvements. Collaboration
        can tap reservoirs of energy, talent, and inspiration.
        Watershed partnerships can also generate new ideas
        and information, help defuse polarization, and lead to a
        common understanding of individual roles, priorities, and
        responsibilities. By drawing attention to the cumulative
        impacts of various human activities and focusing efforts
        on the most critical problems within each watershed,
        partnerships provide opportunities for communities to
        build sustainable futures. Watershed partnerships can
        also promote a more efficient use of limited financial and
        human resources and can identify innovative and efficient
        means of meeting water quality goals.
Typically, the people involved in watershed partnerships
are those who live and work in the watershed. Depending
on the watershed, partnerships may include homeowners,
farmers and ranchers, fishermen, community leaders,
members of civic and environmental groups, water and
sewer system managers, business and government
representatives, and other watershed residents.

The roles of government agencies vary from watershed to
watershed. In many places, local, tribal, state, and federal
government agencies are facilitating the work of watershed
partnerships by providing information,financial assistance,
staff support, and technical assistance, as needed. In other
places, government agencies may be active partners, helping
to design management strategies and implement actions
relating to clean water, public health goals, and government-
owned and managed lands and facilities.

In addition to assisting community-based watershed
partnerships, government agencies at all  levels have other
important responsibilities to carry out.They must set
priorities for limited public resources and see that public
funds are wisely
invested and
properly managed.
They must also
ensure that clean
water and public
health goals are
met, not only within
   >rNever doubt that a small group of
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state boundaries, but across state lines. Finally, government
agencies and other information-rich organizations need to
work together to create a "big picture" of how local, regional

clean water action
and national efforts are succeeding in restoring and
protecting the nation's watersheds.

Watershed partnerships require consistent leadership,
organizational management skills, outreach and communi-
cation skills, and good access to relevant information, tools,
and technical assistance. Specific measures to support and
enhance the number and effectiveness of these communi-
ty-based partnerships are described below.

Watershed Assistance Grants	
Watershed management works best when the programs
and authorities of the public sector are enhanced and
guided by the active involvement of local citizens and
organizations that are interested in protecting the quality of
                 waters where they live. In many cases, local initiatives to pro-
                 tect water quality and the health of aquatic systems can be
                 dramatically enhanced by a small amount of grant assistance.

                 Today, many watershed partnerships are underway, more
                 are emerging, and state as well as federal institutions are
                 providing support. At the same time, current efforts have
                 significant limitations. In large parts of the country,
                 watershed partnerships are not functioning effectively.
                 Many efforts are not very comprehensive, and few have
                 actively addressed issues of scale, (e.g., coordinating
                 the planning and management activities from a small
                 watershed with a larger basin of which it is a part).
                 Although many federal agencies currently operate some
                 programs on a watershed basis, there is little coordination
                 of federal support to watershed partnerships.
 Locatedin eastern Idahoand western Wyoming, the Henry's Forkwatershed covers 1.7 million acres and includes part of Yellowstone National
 Park and the western slope of the Teton Mountains. Laced with more than 3,000 miles of rivers, streams and irrigation canals, the watershed
 includes high mountain streams and abundant springs that sustain healthy populations offish and wildlife, including several threatened and
 endangered species.
 More than 235,000 acres of farmland are irrigated using surface or ground water sources in Henry's Fork Basin. The region's recreation,
 tourism, and timber products industry all depend heavily on the Basin's water resources. In recent decades, these sectors were increasingly
. divided by conflict over water resource management issues. At least 25 federal, state and local agencies were found to have management or
 regulatory jurisdiction in the Basin — a situation that contributed to fragmented planning and decision-making.
 In 1994, the Idaho Legislature chartered the Henry's Fork Watershed Council to ensure a collaborative approach to decision making. Comprised
 of citizens, scientists, and agency representatives who reside, recreate, make a living, and/or have legal responsibilities in the Basin, the Council
 uses a nonadversarial approach to problem solving and conflict resolution. The Council evaluates merits of projects proposed for the
 watershed against 10 primary criteria aimed at protecting watershed health and vitality.

                                          restore and protect watersheds
Grand Telons National Park, Wyoming.
       Federal, state, and tribal governments should set aside
       a small portion of water-related resources to provide
       small grants to non-profit organizations to support
       development of watershed partnerships. In allocating
       grant assistance, governments should give priority to
       organizations with the capacity to assemble diverse
       interests to find creative ways to restore and sustain
       the health of aquatic systems on a watershed basis.

          KEY ACTION:  Beginning in FY1999, federal agencies
          will coordinate with states and tribes to provide
          small grants to enable organizations to build
          watershed partnerships and advance watershed
          restoration efforts.

       Communities Supporting Watersheds
       Many communities and community organizations have
       committed to restoring and protecting a watershed
       or other water, such as a lake, river, or bay.These local
       organizations engage the public in a range of activities
       related to clean water, including organizing stream
cleanups, volunteering to monitor water quality,
planting trees along eroding stream banks, and
educating school children and the community about
water quality problems.

With thousands of watershed alliances, volunteer moni-
toring organizations, and other groups active nationwide,
federal agencies want to highlight opportunities to join
existing efforts wherever possible and to encourage
new watershed organizations where there are none.
For example, several state and federal agencies are
supporting local organizations in "Adopt Your Watershed"
campaigns.Through this effort, agencies challenge
citizens and organizations to "adopt" a watershed, river,
lake,stream, or coastal water. "Adoption" means any
citizen-based effort — large or small — to restore or
protect a watershed or other water body. Organizations
adopting watersheds can include watershed councils,
school groups, civic organizations, garden clubs.
Boy and Girl Scout troops, and any other public or
private organization interested in helping protect
water quality.

   KEY ACTION: To support local organizations
   and citizens in locally based watershed protection
   efforts, and to encourage the organization of such
   groups nationwide, EPA, USDA, OOI, NOAA, and
   other federal agencies will increase information
   and technical assistance available to these groups.
National Watershed Awards	
Well-designed and well-publicized awards serve two
important functions: they reward excellence and they
spread the word about creative solutions to problems.

                                         clean water action plan
Awards can play an important role in building partnerships
for protecting watersheds. A national watershed award
now exists.The CF Industries National Watershed Award
recognizes corporate and community excellence in
watershed protection. Each year, one corporation and a
few communities nationwide are recognized for their
outstanding leadership in protecting America's water
resources. In 1997, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort took
corporate honors for improving Utah's Little Cottonwood
Canyon watershed, the resort's home and source of much
of the Salt Lake Valley's drinking water. Community awards
went to Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Initiative in
Michigan, Heron Lake Watershed Restoration  Association
in Minnesota, Columbia-Pacific Resource Conservation
and Development Council in Washington, and Lake
Pontchartrain Basin Restoration  Foundation in Louisiana.

   KEY ACTION: EPA, USDA, DOI, NOAA, and other
   federal agencies will work with the present sponsors
   of the national watershed award to review options
   for broadening and expanding the awards program,
   including a watershed award in each state and
   awards for innovative solutions to specific problems.
 Expand Watershed Training	
Agency personnel at federal, state, tribal, and local levels
and citizens need access to tools and training on many
aspects of collaborative watershed work.

Fortunately, excellent tools and training programs already
exist or are under development. Some training programs
provide a basic and broad foundation for the use of
ecological, social, and organizational principles to guide
activities to restore and sustain watershed conditions.
Others focus on community capacity-building in specific
areas, such  as assessment techniques, group dynamics,
outreach skills, best management practices, and innovative
funding. Still others focus on setting environmental
objectives and changing the operation of governmental
programs to better support voluntary actions that improve
and protect water resource conditions.

In 1994, EPA established a new clearinghouse called the
Watershed Academy. In addition to offering core courses
about watershed processes, functions, and management
techniques, the Academy co-sponsors special training
events on different aspects of the watershed approach and
felanteers Monitor Water Quality in Missouri
    Volunteer monitoring programs across the country have taken the initiative to organize and strengthen their activities by combining resources,
    sharing expertise, andexploring new cooperativerelationships.Forexample;in Missouri, 1,000 Stream Teams are at work monitoring stream
    quality and restoring degraded waters under a program supported by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and
    the not-for-profit Conservation Federation of Missouri. The program has resulted in a large core of citizens educated about environmental
    issues and involved in watershed projects statewide.

        publishes a catalogue of Watershed Training Opportunities
        on the Internet, with information about dozens of other
        watershed-oriented training courses offered by agencies
        and private organizations.

          KEY ACTION: In 1998, federal agencies will complete
          an inventory of watershed training programs.
          Relevant offerings will be promoted through the
          Watershed Academy and through other means, as
          appropriate. From 1999 on, EPA and other federal
          agencies will join together with states, territories,
          tribes and other organizations to expand and
          improve watershed training offerings.
                                                              the nation's waters. By coordinating compliance assistance
                                                              and enforcement activities on a watershed basis, federal,
                                                              state,and local governments will be better able to address
                                                              the areas of noncompliance that are presenting a particular
                                                              threat to the achievement of water quality goals.

                                                              In addition to conventional enforcement actions, some of
                                                              the compliance assistance and enforcement tools that
                                                              can contribute to restoration of watershed health include
                                                              innovative use of Supplemental Environmental Projects in
                                                              conjunction with enforcement actions, the use of EPA's audit
                                                              policy to encourage voluntary self-disclosure and correction
                                                              of environmental violations, and compliance assistance.
       Enforcement and
       Compliance Assistance
        Assuring compliance with the requirements of federal,
        state, and local laws will be an important component of the
        efforts outlined in this Action Plan to protect and restore
Stakeholder Involvement is Key"
     'The Watershed management approach enables all stakeholders to
     "cooperate andparticipate wittigovernment...As more emphasis is
     placed on developing and implementing watershed action plans
     and total maximum daily loads, there will be a growing need
     to coordinate the efforts of responsible agencies and document
     stakeholder agreements such as pollution reduction goals,
     pollutant load allocations, management solutions, funding options,
     and implementation schedules."
             —Clean Water for Texas: Solving Water Quality Problems,
                                           ••'•• August1997
In addition, federal and state inspections and monitoring
should be increased in priority areas to better identify all
important sources of contamination in those watersheds
not meeting water quality goals. Such monitoring should
include the use of innovative technologies to track
 contamination to its source and allow for more targeted
enforcement and compliance assistance than self-
monitoring alone provides.

   KEY ACTION: By October 1998, EPA will develop
   guidance to support cooperative efforts to ensure
   that compliance assistance and enforcement is used
   to effectively address noncompliance problems on a
   priority watershed basis.

 Moving the clean water program to a watershed approach
 will require a cooperative, intergovernmental effort and a

                                        clean water action plan cfffl1)tCf.—IIf
 high degree of involvement and support of the public
 and the private sector. Engaging the full range of public
 and private interests in the transition to the watershed
 approach will require the development of an institutional
 framework to support watershed management.This
 Action Plan recommends an institutional framework to
 support watershed restoration and protection efforts,
 including a new National Watershed Forum,federal
 program coordinators, and reinvention opportunities.

National Watershed forum	
 A National Watershed Forum will be convened to provide
 a coordinating mechanism for the development of water-
 shed assessment, restoration, and protection efforts.The
 Forum will include a total of about 20 members, including
 representatives of:

     •  federal agencies;
     •  state agencies;
     •  tribal governments;
     •  local governments;
     •  other stakeholder organizations; and
     •  watershed partnerships and citizens.

   KEY ACTION:  The Secretaries of the Departments
\   of Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, and Defense,
   and the Administrator of EPA, in cooperation with
   states and tribes, will convene a National Watershed
   Forum to coordinate watershed assessment,
   restoration, and protection.
Program Coordinators
 Federal agencies are committed to improving access to
 information on programs and assistance available to
 achieve clean water goals. One step toward improving the
 local focus of clean water programs is to provide staff or
 resources to assist state and local watershed efforts, by
 serving as federal program coordinators. Federal program
 coordinators will be familiar with conditions in the water-
 shed and will help state, tribal, and local officials, and others
 get access to information about the watershed and federal
 water quality programs and services that apply to the
 watershed. In some watersheds, additional personnel
 from other interested agencies may work with the federal
 program coordinator.

 Federal program coordinators may be employed by one of
 several federal agencies. If the watershed is coastal, for
 example, NOAA might provide the coordinator. In areas
 with predominantly federally owned or managed land,
 the appropriate land management agency might provide
 the coordinator. Agencies will consult to ensure that
 responsibilities are evenly spread among their staff,
 possibly rotating every few years.

 The direct involvement of citizens in identifying  problems
 and devising solutions is key to the success of watershed
 strategies. Local, non-federal watershed coordinators can
 provide a focal point for engaging citizens and building
 commitment to watershed restoration and protection
 strategies.These local coordinators may work for
 conservation districts, resource conservation and
 development councils, local watershed councils, or
 other nongovernmental organizations.

""-  KEY ACTION: By July 1999, federal agencies will use
   Watershed Assistance Grants or other appropriate
   means to support local watershed coordinators and

                                    restore and protect watersheds flHthtfT III
   will identify agency staff who can help coordinate
   federal programs for watershed restoration
   and protection.

Reinvention Opportunities	

Although many federal and state agencies have already
undertaken activities to provide nonregulatory incentives
and streamline program operations to facilitate watershed
management, much work remains.

To spur more innovative programmatic changes, federal
agencies will review program operations to identify
strategies and frameworks to: increase collaboration;
eliminate inconsistencies; provide incentives for voluntary,
nonregulatory actions; make permitting programs more
flexible, efficient, and predictable; and, most important,
ensure environmental improvements. For example, the use
of trading in watersheds was a key element of the
President's 1995 initiative for reinventing environmental
protection. Such approaches — with appropriate
safeguards to ensure compliance — can be used to
achieve higher water quality in  watersheds at lower cost.
KEY ACTION: Federal agencies will prepare an
analysis and implementation plan (with milestones
and measures) detailing opportunities (including
staff training) to orient federal programs and
regulatory processes on a watershed basis and make
these programs more collaborative and innovative.

KEY ACTION: Federal agencies will coordinate
Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
goals related to watershed management, and identify
opportunities for pooling resources, combining
budgets, and reporting accomplishments.
Federal agencies will work together with states, tribes,
and the National Watershed Forum to incorporate an
assessment of federal reinvention opportunities into the
report on watershed health submitted to the President,
the nation's governors, and the public at the end of the
year 2000.This process will also provide an opportunity
for federal agencies to coordinate goals developed for the
Governmental Performance and Results Act (GPRA) and
to focus programs to better attain these goals.

                                               clean water arri
Rpilovm:  Toward the Future
               America has made remarkable progress in
               reducing water pollution over the past 25 years.
       This Clean Water Action Plan offers a blueprint for restoring
       and protecting water quality. It is one that builds on past
       successes while recognizing changing conditions and
       new opportunities. Implementing this Action Plan and
       maintaining steady progress in reducing water pollution
       into the next century will require a renewed commitment
       to clean water by all levels of government, the private
       sector, and the public.

       Many of the components in this Action Plan are designed
       to provide for additional  development of information,
       assessment, and dialogue prior to decisions on specific
       actions.These processes will assure multiple opportuni-
       ties for input by the public before significant decisions
       are made.
      A key step in maintaining national interest in the Clean
      Water Action Plan is the creation of a new National
      Watershed Forum that will actively monitor implementa-
      tion of proposed key actions and will support federal,
      state, and tribal agencies in developing progress reports on
      watershed health for the President and the nation's
      governors at the end of the year 2000 and periodically
      thereafter.The National Watershed Forum will encourage
      government agencies, the private sector, and the public
      to make the commitment needed to ensure that key
      actions are implemented in a timely manner.
 commenting on programs, but also in actively helping to
 protect and restore the watersheds where they live.

 The Action Plan focuses special attention on defining
 specific actions to restore healthy aquatic systems in
 specific watersheds. By helping to identify watersheds
 with aquatic systems that need to be restored, citizens
 in these watersheds are more likely to get involved in
 implementing water pollution control and natural
 resource enhancement measures.

 Another element of the Action Plan that will help sustain
 local interest in clean water programs is the support
for and investment in building watershed partnerships
as a framework for realizing the vision of healthy
watersheds across the nation. By engaging local
organizations and interested citizens, the public
commitment to clean water will  become a long-term,
broad-based, and potent force.
      Ultimately, however, this Action Plan recognizes that the
      public needs to be involved, not only in reviewing and



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Cover Photo: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
                                                                                      EPA-840-R-98-001  February 1998