United States
   July 1977
   Where Do We
   Go  from Here?
   The Challenge
   of Water Quality
   Management for
   Elected Officials
Environmental Protection Agency
Region V9 Libi-ary
230 South Ds^rictT. Streert
Chicago, Illinois 6060H

  — Devise the management program in each
area which will be carried out under local or
State control.
  This last point incorporates the fundamental
philosophy which has guided the development of
the national water quality management program
under Section 208. In effect, the program in each
area will function as a local or State political
process. This means that it is your program and
the decisions that are made can be yours.
  This pamphlet discusses some of the more
important aspects of water quality management
planning and specifically considers the kinds of
information you,  as an elected official, should
know to effectively participate in this critical

Some Well Publicized Examples
of Water Quality  Deterioration

  Several highly visible examples of the
increasing degradation of this Nation's water
quality have emerged in disturbing  forms during
the past decade. We ignore these early warning
signs of a national water crisis at our own peril.
  Some of these problems have come to the
public's attention in dramatic and well-publicized
fashion. Groundwater resources on Long Island
and in the San Antonio, Texas area are being
tapped at such a  rapid rate that the water
resources are not being replenished. Other areas
are experiencing  similar problems.  The
questionable status of community drinking water
supplies is becoming an issue of strong concern
to officials and the public. Chemicals whose
names we didn't know a few years ago pose
potential threats to public health and
recreational  interests from the Great Lakes to the
lower Mississippi River. These developments
were highlighted recently by the dumping of
large quantities of the chemical Kepone in
Virginia's James  River, a disaster which
threatens the public health and the rich fishing
and shellfishing of the Chesapeake Bay.

Water Quality Problems
Closer to Home

  Your water quality problems may be less
spectacular but just as real. The most common
are probably polluted and clogged streams and
waterways hindered by weeds, algae, and
sediments. Beaches in your area may be closed,
septic tanks leaking, or there may be increasing
threats of local flooding.  Fish kills and sharp
declines in wildlife population along lakes, rivers,
and streams are additional indicators that
something is wrong.
  We are all familiar with the kinds of pollution
that come directly out of pipes from local
factories or from municipal waste treatment
plants. Some sewage systems and industries are
inadequately treating wastes. In other cases,
industries are not adequately pretreating wastes
discharged into municipal systems. Inadequate
treatment and accidental spills can result in
significantly poorer water quality for an entire
  These, however, are only part of the problem.
A great number of pollutants also flow into
America's lakes, rivers and streams directly off
the land. Some of the major sources of water
pollution  are:
  Uncontrolled growth resulting in development
of floodplams and wetlands causes pollution
The natural filtration and absorption qualities of
these lands are lost with development impervious
to water.
Septic  Tanks
  Improperly located, installed, or operated
septic tanks can pollute ground or surface water.
Those  located close to shorelines can add
inadequately treated human waste to the water if
they malfunction, posing a threat to public health
and welfare. The visible manifestation of such
pollution  is algae and dead fish.

Agricultural Runoff
  This includes fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides,
and animal wastes from feedlots and pastures.
Sediment from croplands is an additional
problem. These contribute significantly to
polluted and clogged streams and their nutrients
stimulate the growth of weeds and algae.
Construction Sites
  Construction practices in residential,
commercial, highway, and other forms of
development, which strip soil-holding
vegetation, promote erosion and cause sediment
to enter waterways. Sites that are completely
cleared all at once, instead of gradually
prepared, generate the worst runoff.
Hydrographic Modification
  Activities which change the character of a
stream—building reservoirs, dams, and other
construction which channelize the water body
directly—contribute to siltation. They can also
cause increased flooding in unprotected
downstream locations.
Forestry /Silviculture
  Improper timber harvesting practices can
result in a heavy contribution of sediment from
the forest floor into nearby waterways. Major
problems may arise due to poorly located and
maintained logging roads.
Development in Aquifer Recharge Areas
  These are areas where rainwater replenishes
existing groundwater supplies. Improper
development here can not only hinder the flow of
replenishing rainwater but can also contaminate
the water that gets back into the recharging
Development in Wetlands
  Wetlands are particularly vulnerable. The
consequences of destroying wetlands range
from the flooding of homes and other
development constructed in these areas, to the
elimination of fish and wildlife, and to new
sources of pollution which readily seep into
adjacent waterways.
Urban Storm Runoff
  Your participation  is especially needed in
runoff control because many of the preventive
measures will  require action by municipalities.
Street litter, oil, grease, and spilled gasoline from
roads, parking  lots, and gasoline stations and
uncontrolled construction activities all
contribute to urban pollution. Salt and sand used
to eliminate the hazards of ice and snow pose
special problems during winter periods. Animal

droppings pose a health hazard as well as a
pollution source. Urban runoff contributes to
deteriorating water quality because of the large
areas of impervious surfaces in most
metropolitan areas and storm sewers that
discharge rainwater to streams during storms.
These surfaces prevent contaminants from being
absorbed into the soil where some filtering would
take place.
Waste Storage Sites
  The most common  of these are solid waste
sites (including landfills and dumps), chemical or
petroleum storage areas, and waste facilities
associated with mining operations. If poorly
designed and operated, these facilities can
contaminate both surface and underground
water supplies with toxic chemicals or bacteria.
                < '
Local Government and
Water Quality Management

  Section 208 of the Federal Water Pollution
Control Act Amendments provides a means for
elected  officials to get a handle on these
problems and others. Water quality management
programs are underway all over the country.
Either a State or regional agency has been given
the task of preparing an initial plan to solve your
water pollution problems. The process does not

require that all pollution be controlled to the
same extent at the same time. The most
important problems are dealt with first.
  These 208 agencies normally have two to three
years to prepare a water quality management
plan. At the end of that time, agencies
responsible for carrying through the
recommended solutions will bedesignatedby the
Governor. The agencies designated will be those
with the best capabilities to carry out specific
parts of the plan. As an elected official, you will
have special knowledge about which  agencies
have those capabilities. Agencies at either the
State or local levels can be named. Decisions
about management agencies will be made by the
Governor, but your recommendations will be

The Big Question—Costs

  Many implementation measures will involve
the expenditure of both private and public funds.
Hard as it is to issue bonds or raise taxes to pay
for clean  water, higher costs will accrue if the
management program fails to meet its
responsibilities. If the water is not cleaned up, a
community could suffer curtailment of economic
growth and development. Recreational
opportunities could be missed Health problems
could occur. Conversely, cleaning up the water

can provide economic incentives to industry.
Citizens will be more likely to support increased
spending if recreation  or open space
opportunities are included in the package. It has
also been shown that water pollution control
does provide jobs.

Public Involvement
in the Management Program

  The authors of the 1972 Clean Water Act
recognized clearly the self-defeating nature of
developing water quality management programs
without the involvement of the public and a
community's political leadership. They therefore
included strong provisions for public
participation in the legislation.
  As an elected official, you are in a unique
position to lead and direct this effort. The various
constituencies and interest groups in your
community will have a closer collective working
relationship with you personally than with each
other. This puts you in the "catbird seat" for
channeling the diverse concerns and interests
which will emerge. Policy advisory boards, made
up in  part of elected officials, are already
advising State and local 208 Agencies. As an
elected official, you can encourage these boards
to take an  active role in water quality
  Water quality management is more than a set
of technical or scientific studies or planning
documents. Community priorities and values
must  be considered as well. A 208 agency cannot
and should not make all the decisions without
you, the general public, and the specific
constituencies that you deal with on a daily

Blending Problems. !ssj<.jt>,
and Constituencies;
Asking the Right Questions

  It is difficult to make generalizations about the
impact the program wH1 have in your area, but
many variations are possible Land use policies
and programs, for example,  may undergo local
review to make certain that they aren't currently
contributing to water quality problems and won't
do so in the future.
  What you can do immediately is to make
certain that the several constituencies affected
by the program, and you as  their elected official,
begin to ask the right kinds  of questions of your
water quality management agency For example.
  —Have all sources  of pollution been
  —Are effective strategies  being developed to
    curtail or modify their adverse environmental
  —Have affected interest groups been involved
    in developing control programs9
  —Are means available to alleviate the
    economic impact of the required control
  Are any of the following problems associated
with water pollution visible in your community9
  —Have community outdoor recreational
    opportunities (fishing, boating, swimming)

    been curtailed or elininated because of
    water pollution?
  —Have recreational en :erprises or commercial
    fishing declined and has this had a
    significant impact on unemployment?
  —Is the quality of your area's waterways, and
    other environmental considerations,
    reflected in the image that outsiders have of
    your community?
  Are affected city and county governments
taking the following steps to reduce pollution
resulting from runoff?
  —Are programs being initiated to curtail runoff
    caused by an increase in paved surfaces?
  —Are streets being cleaned regularly to
    remove large quantities of chemicals, debris
    and organic materials which run off in the
    first flush after a storm?
  —Are steps being taken to prevent the overuse
    of road salt or sand during winter snow
  —Are programs being developed to reduce soil
    erosion during construction, or during
    agricultural and forestry operations?

The Decisions Can Be Yours

  The water quality management program in
your area or State is not a guarantee that your
constituencies will see their waterways cleaned
up overnight. In several areas, it will take years to
accomplish this objective as the sheer number of
obstacles to be overcome would indicate. What
the management approach to solving water
quality problems does offer, however, is a
structure and a set of public strategies that are
comprehensive enough to deal with the several
sources of environmental degradation that
pollute your waterways. No simple or superficial
approach will work.
  The water quality management programs must
be developed and carried to completion if your
waterways are not to deteriorate further, let alone
improve. The program won't work unless all
segments of the public, including its elected
officials, become involved in the process.