United States
   Environmental Protection
Office of
Communications and
Public Affairs
Volume 16, Number 6
November/December 1990
              Saving the Nation's
              Great Water Bodies

United States
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Communications
and Public Affairs
                                           Saving  the Nation's
                                           Great Water  Bodies
     William K. Reilly
     Lew Crampton
     Associate Administrator for
     Communications and Public Affairs
     Charles Osolin
     Director of Publications
     John Heritage
     Karen Ftagstad
     Associate Editor
     Ruth Barker
     Assistant Editor
     Jack Lewis
     Assistant Editor
     Nancy Starnes
     Assistant Editor
     Marilyn Rogers
     Circulation Manager
     Design Credits
     Ron Farrah
     James R. Ingram
     Robert Flanagan
     Front Cover: Lake Michigan on <)
     cloudy day. See article on page 5.
     Photo by Mike Urisson.
    Great American water bodies ranging from San Francisco Bay in
    the West to Long Island Sound in the eastern United States
are endangered in a number of ways, as articles in this issue of
EPA journal illustrate. The problems range from habitat
destruction to toxic contamination, from depleted  oxygen levels to
the diversion of tributary waters.
  How can these national treasures be saved? The predominant
theme in this special report of the magazine is that there is no
single solution.  The problems are too diverse; the personalities of
the water bodies are too different.
  Instead, in a point introduced by Administrator Reilly and
reinforced by other contributors, it is proving necessary to fashion
strategies tailormade to particular water bodies. This emerging
approach reflects lessons learned  over 20 years and new insights
earned as the nation's water-quality efforts move into another
decade of tough environmental challenges.
    EPA journal is printed on recycled paper.
    EPA is charged by Congress to protect the nation's land, air, and water systems. Under a mandate of national environmental laws, the Agency strives to
    formulate and implement actions which lead to a compatible balance between human activities and the ability of natural systems to support and nurture life.
      LI'A Journal is published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Administrator of EPA has determined that the publication of this periodical is
    necessary in the transaction of the public business required by law of this agency. Use of funds for printing this periodical has been approved by the Director of
    the Office of Management and Budget. Views expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect EPA policy. No permission necessary to reproduce contents
    except copyrighted photos and other materials.
      Contributions and inquiries should be addressed to the Editor, EPA Journal (A-107), Waterside Mall, 401 M Street, SW., Washington, D.C. 20460

                               VOLUME  16
                         NUMBER 6
People, boats, and the
water—ingredients in the
mystique of our water
 2 A Strategy to Save the Great Water Bodies
   —It's a big challenge, but there are ways to
   meet it and important reasons to get the job
   done.                     By William K.  Reilly

 5 Toxics in the Great Lakes—The clean-up task
   has gotten a lot more complicated, and in some
   ways, more urgent.
                By Theo Colburn and Richard A. Liroff

 g Citizens and the Gulf of Mexico—
   The story of a citizens' awakening, a critical step
   for the future of a water body.   By Wesley Marx

-|3 Runoff and the  Chesapeake Bay—What
   happens on the land is  determining the fate of
   this remarkable water resource.
                By William C. Baker and Tom Horton

-J ~i Pollution-Prevention Tactics in the Gulf of
   Maine—Plans are afoot to protect this water
   body,  instead of  waiting for damage that has
   to be corrected.            By Melissa  Waterman

 Q San Francisco Bay, Beset by Freshwater
   Diversion—Can  this resource survive
   California's thirst  for water? By Harry  Seraydarian

23 An Early Success  for the Delaware Bay—
   How a cooperative effort brought some major
   pollution sources  under control.   By Bruce Stutz

26 Long Island Sound: Facing Tough Choices
   —The author argues that timing and the art of
   the possible are crucial elements in the clean-up
    effort.                        By /.R. SchuM

29 Financing the Cleanup of Puget Sound—
   This area is adopting innovative approaches to
   the dilemma of how to pay the pollution-control
   bill.                         By Annette Frahtn

34 An Environmental Snapshot of the
   Mississippi—Human imprints have shaped the
   environmental character of the "Mighty Miss.,"
   from the river's start in  Minnesota to its finish in
   the Louisiana delta.           By Reggie McLeod
   38 The Southern California Bight: Where
      Traditional Approaches Won't Work—
      Massive population pressures are forcing
      futuristic clean-up measures.   By Wi^/i'y Marx

   42 The Ogallala Aquifer, an Underground
      Sea—This natural wonder is invisible to the
      naked eye but not out of the reach of unwise
      exploitation.                    By jack Leu'if

   45 The Quetico-Superior Lakes: Tainted by
      Surprise—These wilderness lakes are removed
      from  most pollution,  except what is coining from
      the air.                      By Dean Rebuffoni.

   4g Managing Nature in the Everglades—This
      "river of grass" is now in humans' charge, and
      its future depends on our wisdom.   Bvlainef \\'M>

   5-] The Eco-Invaders—The intrusions of the zebra
      mussel, the sea lamprey, and some other aquatic
      nuisances are considered from the perspective of
      geological history.             By Darid Yoiint

   54 An Independent Perspective—An outside
      observer presents his "biases"  on how to save
      the nation's great water bodies.
                              By William M. Eichhnun

   57 Measuring Environmental Success—How
      do we know whether efforts to clean up the
      major bodies of water are really succeeding?
                                     By Steiv Glomb

   gQ Looking Forward in the Office of Water—
      The Assistant Administrator of this EPA office
      spells out her vision for the nation's water
      quality efforts.             By Ljjutuia S.Wilchcr

   64 Appointments—Profiles of key officials
      recently named at EPA.
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A  Strategy  to  Save
the  Great Water  Bodies
 by William  K. Reilly
    Their very names—Ogallala and
    Ontario, Champlain and
 Chesapeake, Mississippi and
 Michigan—echo with the poetry of
 American legend and evoke the glories
 of American history. Our heritage as a
 civilization is indelibly intertwined
 with the cadence of these, the names of
 the nation's great waters.
  Yet despite their inestimable value,
 both cultural and practical, the nation's
 waters have been damaged by the
 poisonous  by-products of 20th century
 society. Whatever their specific
 designation—lake, estuary, or aquifer;
 sound, bight, or gulf; bay, wetland, or
 river—our  great water ecosystems are
 increasingly troubled. As these huge
 basins accumulate contaminants, they
 lose their bounty and beauty. They
 become septic tanks and toxic sinks.
 The final verdict on our
 turn-of-tho-millennium civilization may
 well rest in substantial  part on our
 ability to restore the vast productivity
 of our nation's great bodies of water.
  Obviously, the great water bodies are
 directly affected by the human
 activities that surround them; and,
 perhaps less obviously, the fate of these
 ecosystems will, in turn, directly affect
 the lives of the great majority of
 Americans. Our coasts and estuaries are
 suffering the effects of one of the great
 migrations of modem times: In 1987,
 more than  125 million people—over
 half the total U.S. population—lived on
 the 10 percent of the nation's land that
 falls within 50 miles of a coastline; by
 the year 2000, three-quarters  or more of
 our people will live on that narrow slice
 of land  along the coasts.
  Coastal waters, therefore, are bearing
 an unsustainable burden. They receive
 the pollution generated by millions of
 people who live and work nearby, and
 they are loaded with the cumulative
 impacts over years of discharges from
 thousands  of upstream and watershed
 (ReiJJy is Administrator of EPA.)
  About one-third of the nation's
sewage effluents in 1980, for example,
were discharged into coastal and
marine waters. Habitat destruction,
industrial and municipal discharges,
We are a highly
compartmentalized agency,
organized to control and
clean  up pollution . .  . not to
prevent it.
runoff, and atmospheric deposits (in
the early 1980s I recall being surprised
at learning that up to three-fourths of
the PCBs in the Great Lakes were
thought to come from air
deposition): the combined'burden is
clearly overwhelming some of our most
valuable, productive ecosystems.
  Water bodies such as the Chesapeake
Bay and the great rivers of the Middle
West provide critical habitat for
migratory waterfowl and other species.
Yet this valuable habitat has degraded
to the point of endangering many
waterfowl species. Estuaries and
wetlands serve as nurseries or
spawning grounds for most
commercially important species of fish
and shellfish. Yet valuable
shellfisheries have vanished completely
from many estuaries. Oyster harvests in
the Chesapeake, for instance, are at  a
historic: low. One hundred years ago,
there were so many oysters in the bay
that they filtered the entire volume  of
water every four or five days. Today, it
takes about a year to accomplish the
same task. Legendary fish species are in
trouble, deep trouble: The striped bass,
Maryland's beloved "rockfish" (also in
the Chesapeake), comes to mind.
  Meanwhile, ground-water
withdrawals have tripled since 1950 to
Mike Bnsson photo
more than 95 billion gallons a day. (See
story on the Ogallala Aquifer on page
42). In some places, ground water that
remains is threatened by injection of
waste and contaminated waters,
seeping pesticides, failing septic
systems, landfills and surface
impoundments, accidental spills, and
general nonpoint runoff.
  And finally, rare and  critical aquatic
habitats everywhere are threatened.
Arctic tundra, subtropical mangrove
swamps, temperate prairie pot holes,
wild rivers, pristine lakes: These are
truly unique ecosystems, and they
support a rich mix of wildlife, some
endangered. Indeed, we are only now
beginning to understand the important
role  they play in the wider ecosystem.
Yet they are all  disappearing at an
astonishing rate—faster, in fact, than
we are rescuing them.
  What is to be  done? How can we
address these vexing problems?
  Shortly after I became Administrator,
1 asked EPA's Science Advisory Board
(SAB)  to review the Agency's ability to
identify and solve our most serious
environmental issues. The SAB report,
Reducing Risk:  Setting Priorifies  and
Strategies for Environmental Projection,
released this past September,
spotlighted EPA's continuing neglect  of
natural ecosystems—wetlands,
estuaries, and forests.
  For years, the SAB noted,  EPA and
its statutes have focused the Agency's
                                                                                                    EPA JOURNAL

       The challenge posed by our yreat v*
       that benefits society in many ways.
pruiecung a resource
       Coastal waters are bearing an
       unsustainable burden due in part to the
       large, continuing influx of residents and
       vacationers to shoreline areas.
                                                     Skip Brown photo Maryland Sea Gran!
attention chiefly on risks to human
health, less so on ecological
degradation. The SAB found this
balance to be insufficient. Natural
ecosystems support all human
activities, including, of course.
economic enterprises. They also have
intrinsic values independent of human
use that are worthy of protection.
Accordingly, the SAB urged EPA to
attach as  much importance to
ecological values as to human health
  This recommendation comes as  no
surprise.  In fact, it calls attention once
again to EPA's original mission—to see
the world whole, to see it as diverse,
productive, and interconnected.
Unfortunately, time, turf, and the
balkanized nature of environmental
legislation have taken their toll on the
vision that initially was to guide EPA.
We are a  highly compartmentalized
agency, organized to control and clean
up pollution, medium-by-medium,
chemical-by-chemical—not to prevent
it. As a result, we often  have simply
been cycling problems through our
                                                                                     In  the Great Lakes,
                                                                                     fortunately, a model
                                                                                     approach  based on
                                                                                     ecological perspectives is
                                                                                     taking shape.
                                    system, seldom really solving them. We
                                    took toxics from smokestacks, turned
                                    them into sludge, dumped the sludge
                                    somewhere on the landscape, and then
                                    watched the inevitable runoff and
                                    leachate contaminate our water. Indeed,
                                    nowhere has this frustrating cycle been
                                    more apparent than in our efforts to
                                    deal with water quality.
                                      In response, in part, the 1987
                                    amendments to the Clean Water Act
                                    established the National Estuary
                                    Program to bring a collective focus to
          NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1990

federal, state, and local efforts to
protect the nation's most significant
estuaries. The idea is to bring to bear
the best efforts of public entities and
private groups, to apply the range of
available tools and techniques to the
unique problems of an estuary.
Regulatory tools that different
governments have at their disposal
include standards, permits,
enforcement, local zoning ordinances,
and building codes; nonregulatory
techniques include education, technical
assistance, voluntary action, and
negotiations. There are now 17
designated estuaries. The estuary
program anticipates two distinct
phases: first, problem identification and
planning; and second, implementation.
Most estuary programs are still in  the
planning phase. If this approach is to
meet its objectives and prove useful for
targeting other water resources—such
as lakes, rivers, and wetlands—then we
need to speed  the process along.
  In the Great Lakes, fortunately, a
model  approach based on ecological
perspectives is taking shape. In  this
unsurpassed watershed, we are
pursuing restoration through a variety
of methods. The need for flexibility is
dictated by the immense variety and
complexity of the watershed itself: Lake
Superior, for example, remote and
relatively underpopulated; or Lake Erie,
with vastly different problems, once
choked by eutrophication, now  sporting
a variety of fish life, yet also plagued
by new invaders such as the zebra
mussels, an exotic species with  as yet
no predator to check its numbers (see
story on page 51).
  EPA is trying an approach of
whole-systems environmentalism. We
are trying to use the most advanced
technology available, including  satellite
imagery, to identify the hot spots  in the
Great Lakes ecosystem. Then, like the
estuary program, using a variety of
methods, we will  craft solutions
tailored to  local circumstances.  In
developing the strategies, we will
address at least three persistent
problems: the deposition of pollutants
through the air; runoff from
agricultural, urban, and other nonpoint
sources; and restoration of critical
  We already know that air sources are
major contributors of both toxic and
acidic  pollutants to the Great Lakes.
The new Clean Air Act will help to
curb this problem. But we probably
need to do more. We intend to go
beyond traditional enforcement,
fashioning voluntary agreements with
the major sources of air pollution  to
protect these magnificent waters. A
new generation of industrial leadership
is emerging, and we want to work  with
this group wherever we can to cut  toxic
emissions voluntarily, cut them
sharply, cut them soon. We also are
strengthening our multi-media
enforcement capabilities so that, as
warranted, we look at the overall
pollution problem at a facility—not
piecemeal, not medium-by-medium, not
air or water, but in its entirety.
  Nonpoint runoff is another major
problem with no easy answers. The
region around the Great Lakes suffers
from all of the usual sources of runoff,
including farms and urban surfaces.
Because the economy of the basin  is
essentially industrial, the region
also suffers significant runoff problems
from industrial sites and mining
operations. These sources continue to
contribute pollutants that contaminate
bottom sediments and accumulate  in
fish and wildlife. And eutrophication
from excess nutrients is still more  than
a nuisance in many areas.
  Protecting critical habitat will require
restoring habitat such as submerged
aquatic vegetation and riparian  zones.
And it will require implementing
President Bush's "no-net-loss" goal for
wetlands as soon as possible in the
Great Lakes.  To achieve this goal,  we
must gain the public's cooperation and
improve its understanding of the
pivotal role of wetlands in the overall
functioning of ecosystems—particularly
those that are highly stressed, such as
some found in the Great Lakes system.
  We may want to explore classification
systems to assure that the fullest
protection is afforded to high-value
wetlands. This is not  a  new idea; it
does require improving the state of
wetlands science and crafting a
protection scheme that  respects the
great diversity of wetlands. It needs to
overcome the perception that it is
tantamount to writing off certain
wetlands. Its potential is to reconcile
the engine of development—particularly
the highways and airports and other
projects that bring local economic
benefits—with the wetlands that
provide essential ecological benefits.
  In putting all these pieces together,
we are seeking the support and
involvement of the states and the
national and provincial governments of
Canada. The states in the region, with
four new governors, have a crucial role.
Not only do they bring  additional
resources, but they traditionally have
authority in many areas of land use and
water planning critical to restoring the
  Citizen groups, too, have an essential
role. The mushrooming land trust
movement, public-private partnerships
such as the Des Plaines wetlands
restoration project, which I recently
visited, voluntary education and
tree-planting programs: Government
cannot do the job alone, and the Great
Lakes benefit handsomely from the
energy and imagination of private
groups. Thus, outreach, consultation,
and communication are increasingly
important activities.
  Realizing our ambitious goals for the
Great Lakes will require the best efforts
of our Great Lakes Program and our
regional and program offices. It's worth
it. The potential payoff is enormous,
not just for the Great Lakes but in
fashioning a model for how we move
forward, from planning to
implementation, to protect  and restore
the nation's other great water bodies.
  A decade ago one of the world's
leading naturalists, Jacques Cousteau,
was walking with his son Jean-Michel
along a riverbank in the Amazon.  After
a while, Jacques turned to Jean-Michel
and said, "If we want to save anything,
we have to remember that people
protect what  they love."
  Cousteau's words, so eloquent with
respect to the magnificent Amazon
rainforest, ring equally true with
respect to the great water bodies and
other aquatic systems of the United
States. Whether  it is Long Island Sound
or Puget Sound, San  Francisco Bay or
the Chesapeake, the Gulf of Mexico or
the Arctic tundra, it is time to get
serious  about protecting what we  love.
Clearly  we do love our great water
bodies:  We flock to them to live, to
work, and to play. They are part of our
heritage, part of  our consciousness. Let
us vow not to let their glory pass from
this good Earth, a
                                                                                                        EPA JOURNAL

Toxics  in  the  Great  Lakes
by Theo Colborn
and  Richard A. Liroff
    The Great Lakes hold approximately
    20 percent of the world's supply of
fresh surface water. Because of their
vast size and favorable habitat, the
lakes and their environs serve as
nesting grounds to innumerable animal
species. The Great Lakes basin is home
to 35 million Americans and
  Superficially, the recovery of the
lakes from their degraded condition of
the  late 1960s, when the press
pronounced Lake Erie dead or dying
and television viewers watched
Cleveland's Cuyahoga River flaming up
from its surface, suggests that the Great
Lakes are an environmental  success
story. But a more thorough review of
the  health of the Great Lakes
ecosystem suggests another, more
sobering conclusion: Persistent toxic
substances continue to circulate within
the  system.
  Determining the source of these
substances has led to even more
sobering conclusions. In some
instances, the major sources are
believed to  be thousands of  miles  away.
Airborne pesticides, such as DDT and
toxaphene;  industrial chemicals, such
as PCBs; and metals, such as mercury
and cadmium, are entering the Great
Lakes on air currents from outside the
lakes' basin.
  Even worse,  through their
magnification in the food web, these
substances pose a threat to the wildlife
and human residents of the Great Lakes
basin who consume  fish from the  lakes.
The persistence and biomagnification of
toxic substances in aquatic ecosystems
(Colborn is a Senior FeJIow at World
Wildlife Fund and The Conservation
Foundation and a FeUovv al (he VV.
Alton /ones Foundation.  Liroff directs
the Central and Eastern Europe
Program af World Wildlife Fund and
The Conservalion Foundation. Both are
co-authors of Great Lakes, Great
Legacy?, (he report on which this
article is based.]

in the Great Lakes are of global

Weaving the Threads of
the Toxics Story

In 1987, World Wildlife Fund and The
Conservation Foundation in
Washington, DC, and The Institute for
Research and Public Policy in Ottawa,
Ontario, launched a two-year project to
produce a "State of the Environment"
report for the Great Lakes basin. We
found that the Great Lakes had been
diligently researched by a community
of wildlife biologists whose studies had
driven wildlife toxicology to its cutting
edge. But the many sources of data still
needed to be synthesized and made
meaningful for policymakers. Not  until
we completed our survey of the
existing scientific literature, making
new linkages, did we appreciate the
true dimensions of the toxics problem.
  The poisoning of the lakes' wildlife
has its roots in industrial and
agricultural development. Following
World War II, the Great Lakes basin
attracted large chemical and
manufacturing complexes. Its
agricultural sector boomed. The lakes
became convenient receptacles for the
wastes of these activities. It is not
surprising that beginning in the
mid-1950s, and continuing to the
present, numerous reports about
unhealthy animals in the Great Lakes
basin have appeared in scientific
literature and government reports.
Populations of top predator animals in
the basin suffered—and still
  The plight of the animals raised
questions concerning the risks to
humans who depend upon the same
resources as the wildlife. In essence,
the Great Lakes basin became a natural
laboratory in which to test  the
association between health problems
and persistent  toxic substances. At  peak
contamination  levels in the late 1900s
and early 1970s, numerous wildlife
species were exhibiting severe
population stress.
  Prompted by concerns about human
health, policymakers made great strides
in restricting the use of such major
contaminants as DDT, dieldrin, and
PCBs. They instituted permit systems to
manage direct discharges of wastes into
the lakes. Concentrations of many
chemicals declined strikingly in
sediments and  fish and wildlife tissues
in the late 1970s. However, reductions
in contamination tapered off around
1980-1981, and concentrations are
holding at levels serious enough to
cause public health authorities to issue

             Although big fish are fun to catch,
        people are being urged not to eat older,
         heavier trout and salmon caught in the
                                 Great Lakes.
warnings about eating certain sizes and
species of fish.
  Current concentrations of all the
above chemicals still affect wildlife that
use the lakes as their home or nesting
ground, especially those that are
dependent upon fish from the lakes.
  Most importantly, the individual
animals suffering the most  in wildlife
populations are the young.  Young
birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles
exhibit a suite of  untoward health
effects that eventually cause premature
death or abnormal development. These
include metabolic changes  manifested
in a condition called "wasting":
animals appear lethargic, lose their
appetites and weight, and die
prematurely. More subtle changes
include organ  damage. These include:
thyroid and heart problems; a liver
condition called porphyria, or abnormal
metabolism of iron; reduced levels of
vitamin A in critical tissues; male birds
growing ovarian tissue, and female
birds growing  excessive oviduct tissue;
male fish not reaching full  sexual
maturity; and hermaphroditism in fish.
In addition, there are such obvious
effects as birth defects and  behavioral
changes. Cancer is not as prevalent a
problem as these  other effects.
  The problems in the offspring are the
last stage in a  sequence of events that
begins with maternal exposure to one
or more toxicants and transfer of those
toxicants to the egg or fetus. In most
cases, the adult animals show no
visible signs of ill health, except
abnormal behavior.
  The fate of bald eagles  in the Great
Lakes basin illustrates the association
of population effects and toxic
substances. It now appears  that the
lakes have become an ecological  black
hole for the eagle. Healthy,  immigrant
                                                     Mike Bnsson photo
Toxic Substance  Effects on Cells
Almost all the toxic substances
discussed in this article affect
developing cells in two and
sometimes three ways. First, they
block communication between
cells. During early stages of
development, messages can be
interrupted that tell immature
cells how to migrate and
differentiate as they produce
tissue: nerves, brain, spinal cord,
bones, appendages, gonads, heart,
and so forth.
  Second, the chemicals activate
enzyme  systems that under
normal conditions would not be
activated. These enzyme systems
can interfere with normal
development. For example, as a
result of specific enzyme
activation, a developing organism
may flush fat-soluble hormones
from the body that are essential
for triggering normal endocrine
development. Third, the
chemicals can act as female
hormones, interfering with the
differentiation of the endocrine
system. For example, they can
imprint a female message in the
brain (hypothalamus gland)
regardless of the chromosomal sex
determination of the individual.
In all these cases, timing of
exposure is critical.
                                                                                                             EPA JOURNAL

birds establish territories along the
shoreline, but after two years of feeding
on Great Lakes prey, they start losing
their ability to raise viable young.
These shoreline populations have
higher concentrations of toxic
substances, such as PCBs and DDE,
than inland populations.
  Laboratory studies of toxic
contaminants of concern in the Great
Lakes reinforce these conclusions.
These include PCBs, dioxins,  furans,
    A Misplaced Emphasis on  Cancer?
    The evidence from the Great
    Lakes indicates that the current
    emphasis in national
    environmental health policy on
    cancer may be drawing attention
    away from other health effects
    that may be even more prevalent.
    The chemicals found  in the Great
    Lakes ecosystem, and in almost
    every other highly industrialized
    and agrichemical area, can cause
    changes in body functions, such
    as the nervous, immune, and
    endocrine systems. They act as
    functional teratogens. They do not
    cause obvious gross birth defects
    or cancer at the doses to which
    most human populations are
      The same chemicals found in
    wildlife are found in  human
    blood and fat. More importantly,
    they are found in all tissues and
    organs associated with the human
    reproductive system—semen,
    testicles, follicular fluid in the
    ovaries, placentae, and breast
      There is an urgent need to learn
    more about the effects of their
    presence in these tissues. The
    effects in human  offspring
    resulting from prenatal and
    postnatal low-dose exposure to
    lead, alcohol, and cigarette smoke
    are now widely accepted,  but
    only after many years of denial by
    skeptics. In a related  vein, it has
    been demonstrated that, almost 10
    years after their birth, those
    offspring of women who ate one
    or two meals a month of Great
Lakes fish for at least six years
prior to their pregnancy do
indeed experience subtle, but
measurable and significant
deficits in intelligence, behavior,
and motor coordination.
  The effects are truly subtle;
they are apparent only to
scientists and in carefully
conceived experiments. These
experiments reveal children
disadvantaged  because their
cognitive, social, and behavioral
skills are less than might be
expected under normal
circumstances. The long-term
social and economic effects of
this damage, from the individual
to the national level, are not  yet
fully understood.
  More resources must be made
available so that Great Lakes
environmental, wildlife, public
health, and medical professionals
can share their research findings
to better assess the subtle effects
of toxic chemicals on wild and
human populations. We are
certain that as  this idea spreads,
public health agencies will
develop improved research
protocols that include endocrine,
neurological, and immunological
  As funds are redirected to  these
endpoints, biologic markers of
exposure and subsequent markers
of abnormal development will be
identified. Building upon this
base, regulators can then give
greater weight  to the functional
teratogenic effects of toxic
dieldrin, HCB (hexachlorobenzene),
lindane, mirex, toxaphene, and
mercury, to mention a few. The same
chemicals found in wildlife induce the
same suite of health effects in a number
of laboratory animals. For example,
PCBs and  dioxins have been associated
in the laboratory with wasting, loss of
vitamin A, immune suppression,
feminization, porphyria, organ damage,
and birth defects. A number of
dose-response studies in the field and
the laboratory support these

Long-Range Atmospheric Transport
of Pollutants

Some of the more troublesome
pollutants are generated beyond the
watersheds of the Great Lakes.
For example,  Lake Superior is generally
acknowledged to be the cleanest of the
Great Lakes. Fewer humans inhabit its
watershed, and the watershed has
much less industrial and agricultural
activity than the other Great Lakes
watersheds. Yet anglers fishing in Lake
Superior are warned not to consume
lake  trout  larger than 30 inches because
of PCB contamination. Scientists
estimate that approximately 90 percent
of the PCBs in Lake Superior enter the
lake  from the atmosphere.
  This  long-range transport is not
unusual. The  atmosphere is the primary
source  of mercury contamination in
northern Minnesota. (See article on
page 45.) Sediment mercury
concentrations there have increased
two percent per year since 1938. As a
result, the rate of fish-tissue mercury
uptake has increased. The fresh DDT in
the lakes is suspected to come from
Central America. It conies as no
surprise, then, that elevated
concentrations of contaminants are
found in wildlife in remote areas
around the globe: for example, the
Arctic.  These concentrations,
attributable to the phenomenon of
long-range atmospheric transport,
remind us that the problems found in

                                                                                             Cleveland's Cuyahoga
                                                                                             River has made a
                                                                                             dramatic recovery since
                                                                                             its notorious surface fire
                                                                                             in the late 1960s.
                                                                  Greater Cleveland Growth Association phoio
the Great Lakes signal more widespread

New Policy and
Research Directions

The Great Lakes experience reveals that
traditional environmental protection
programs have been inadequate for
lowering persistent toxic substances to
safe levels  in the environment, and
public health programs have not been
properly oriented to assess the human
health effects of these substances.
1'ublic health remains at risk. New
approaches are necessary. For example,
national public health  programs should
be redirected to  account more fully for
the non-cancer,  developmental impacts
of chemicals on human health. The
subtle health effects manifested in
wildlife offspring and in the children of
Lake Michigan fish-eaters (see box on
page 7) cannot be ignored.
  Several actions taken within the last
two years are steps in the right
direction. First,  EPA Administrator
William K.  Reilly announced earlier
this year that membership of the Great
Lakes  Advisory  Committee would be
expanded to include all of EPA's
Assistant Administrators; that
representatives of major EPA  programs
would meet monthly to explore options
for attacking the Great Lakes' toxic
problems. This acknowledges, in effect,
that what worked for phosphates in the
lakes won't work for toxic substances.
EPA is not organized to deal with the
toxic chemicals in the Great Lakes. The
Great Lakes cannot be protected solely
by a traditional water-pollution control
program. If the Assistant
Administrators develop a successful
program, it could be a model for  other
areas of contamination.
  Second, far-sighted officials are
examining the science developed by
wildlife toxicologists and ecologists in
the basin and are exploring innovative
adaptations of their techniques for
assessing human health in areas of high
contamination along the shorelines of
the lakes.  The International Joint
Commission of Canada and the United
States have been bringing together
multidisciplinary experts to  discuss
toxics in wildlife and humans. In this
way, the commissioners hope to
motivate regulators to move  beyond
conventional approaches to solving
contaminant problems.
  Third, public officials are seeking
alternatives to control strategies based
on standards that measure
concentrations of pollutants  in water
alone. Generally, the concentration in
lake water of any one of the  chemicals
mentioned above is below the detection
limit and thereby meets present
water-quality standards. However,
because of biomagnification, the
chemicals can accumulate in fish  tissue
to levels that are harmful to  wildlife
and humans.
  A new approach, in which
concentration limits in specific wildlife
species are used as indicators of water
quality,  has been endorsed by the
International Joint Commission and a
number of environmental organizations.
For example, a committee reporting to
the International Joint Commission has
recommended that, because it sits  at
the top of the Great Lakes food web and
is so sensitive, the bald eagle should
"be used as an ecosystem objective to
define the virtual elimination of
persistent toxic substances from the
Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem." The
objective would specify how many
pairs of eagles  live around the lakes,
how productive they are, and what
should be the maximum concentrations
of toxic substances in eagle eggs and
brains. A flourishing bald eagle
population around the lakes would
signal a truly meaningful improvement
in the integrity of the Great Lakes
ecosystem,  n
                                                                                                           EPA JOURNAL

Citizens  and  the
Gulf of  Mexico
 by Wesley Marx
    Along the Gulf of Mexico's crescent
    shore, stretching 1,631 miles from
Brownsville, Texas, to the Florida Keys,
more and more concerned citizens are
joining the challenge to protect a
remarkable marine heritage. The gulf
sustains 40 percent of the nation's
commercial fish catch by volume and
one-third of the nation's marine
sport-fishing activity. Over 90 percent
of the fishing stocks, from shrimp to
flounder, rely on bays and coastal
wetlands to spawn, nurse, and rear.
Today, these estuarine and coastal areas
are being overtaken by some of the
nation's worst extremes in pollution
and habitat loss.
• Nearly 60  percent of the region's
shellfish growing areas are subject to
permanent or periodic public-health
    • Toxic red tides are becoming more
    frequent and severe. In 1986, one red
    tide in Texas killed some 22 million
    fish. Nutrient-rich farm runoff and
    urban sewage may help nurture the
    noxious algal blooms.
    • Texas spends $14 million a year to
    prevent its beaches from being buried
    by trash. Padre Island National
    Seashore absorbs  up to 10 tons of trash
    per mile each year!
    • In Florida, urban development has
    destroyed 22,000  acres of another
    critical  coastal habitat, mangrove
    forests.  Galveston Bay in Texas has lost
    96 percent of its seagrass beds to
    dredge and fill operations.
    • Loss of sand dunes  and other  natural
    storm buffers can contribute to the
    region's soaring disaster liability. Since
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           PACIFIC OCEAN
(Marx is the author of The Frail Ocean
(1967; revised edition forthcoming in
1991] and The Oceans: Our Last
Resource (1982J.)
1969, Louisiana has received 26
Presidential disaster relief designations.
with all but two related to floods and
hurricanes. The state leads the nation
in repeat damage claims to the National
Flood Insurance Program.

  There are no easy solutions to such
awesome problems. Take the problem
of delta land loss. Over geologic time,
deltas gain and lose land as
sediment-bearing rivers change
channels. But manmade changes can
accelerate this process.
  Levees protect delta cities from
floods. They also block the overflows of
river silt that form and sustain the delta
plain. Ergo, the delta retreats; the gulf
advances. Oil company canals  that slice
through remaining wetlands permit
more salt water to intrude. More
freshwater marsh and cypress forests
die. The land that erodes also sinks  as
oil pumping reduces underground
  How do you convince a region to
change the very activities that sustain
its economy? Enter the citizen

Coalition to Restore
Coastal Louisiana

Rob Gorman is a Catholic Church social
worker who wants to save marshes,
swamp forests, and oyster beds: "If the
delta drowns, we lose a land that has
sustained thousands of families for
generations. That is not just an
environmental tragedy. That is a social
  Gorman helped found the Coalition
to Restore Coastal Louisiana in 1986.
The Coalition brings together over 100
clubs and businesses, including the
Louisiana Wildlife Federation, the
Terrebone Parish government,  and the
League of Women voters. The Coalition
works for major policy initiatives that
treat the delta as a dynamic ecosystem,
not just a piecemeal resource. A task
force has been created  in the

Governor's office to plan and
coordinate wetland protection. In 1988,
state voters, by a three-to-one majority,
created a wetland restoration fund
supported by gas and oil revenues that
added up, in 1990, to $26 million. In
1990, Congress passed a bill sponsored
by Louisiana Senator John Breaux that
provides $35 million a year for more
wetland projects.
  Old or abandoned canals are being
backfilled or plugged to resist salt-water
intrusion. Sand  dunes are being
restored. Freshwater flows are being
returned to some marshlands.
Borrowing from a Dutch technique, the
coalition will deploy 250,000 used
Christmas trees as silt-trapping brush
fences. Such fences dampen or reduce
wave action. Silt can settle out and
rebuild marshland.
  Will such projects slow down or
eventually halt erosion of the delta? It
is too early to tell. "We have
established a citizen Coast Watch to
monitor wetland projects. We want to
ensure that funds are spent wisely,"
says Gorman. Tough policy decisions
lie ahead. Gates installed  in levees can
restore flows of fresh water and silt to
dying marshlands. However, such
projects can be opposed by delta
residents who don't want to be
relocated from revived floodways.

Texas Beach Party

In  1986, Linda Maraniss, after
sidestepping trash on a Texas beach,
decided to throw a new form of beach
party. Now the director of the Texas
branch of the center for Marine
Conservation, she works with the Texas
State Land Office to coordinate annual
beach cleanups that involve up to 8,700
  "We collect data as well as garbage,"
explains Maraniss. Debris surveys help
explain why the Texas shore is so
trash-prone. Up to 75 percent of the
trash comes not from beachgoers but
from offshore sources—cleaning bottles
from merchant vessels, egg cartons from
naval ships, fishing gear, hard hats
from offshore oil crews.
  Instead of transporting such
throwaways out of the gulf, the looping
gulf currents move the garbage in
circles and eventually onto beaches.
Nearly 70 percent of the trash items are
plastic, which can endure for a century
and more. Such long-lived litter can be
lethal. Plastic netting can  entangle
seabirds. Plastic bags can  clog the
digestive tract of endangered marine
  As the Texas surveys showed,
controlling marine debris  can require a

                  Wesley Marx pfioto.
                                                     ..**.,  OYSTERS
                                                                                             EPA JOURNAL

regional and even international
response. In 1987, Congress ratified an
international treaty, Annex 5 of
MARPOL, that bans marine dumping of
plastics. Annex 5 came into force in
1988. Maraniss now uses the debris
surveys to monitor compliance.
"Indicator trash items can tell us how
well certain marine activities are
complying," she says. The annual
beach cleanup and debris survey is
now a gulfwide, and nationwide, event.

Galveston Bay Foundation

The most productive bay in Texas is
also the most threatened. Galveston
Bay, which provides nursery and
spawning grounds for 30 percent of the
fishing stocks harvested along the
Texas coast, is flanked by the nation's
largest petrochemical complex and its
eighth largest metropolitan area. The
Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF),
founded in 1987, is a coalition of
environmental and bay user groups that
serves as an advocate for the bay.
  "We are actively opposing a proposed
water storage dam, Wallisville, which
would reduce freshwater inflows to the
bay," explains  Linda Shead, executive
director of GBF.  Freshwater inflows
supply nutrients and sustain lower
salinity levels vital to the bay's most
valuable crop,  oysters. A major
channel-dredging project would have
dumped dredge spoil in the bay,
endangering valuable oyster grounds.
GBF, teaming up with the Texas Parks
Advertising riches from the Gulf
of Mexico, sea-food stands like
this one in Aransas Pass, Texas,
are part of the local culture.
and Wildlife Department and with
fishing groups like the Gulf Coast
Conservation Association, convinced
the Army Corps of Engineers to modify
the project to eliminate unconfined
open-water dredge disposal.
  GBF recruited 100 community
volunteers to transplant  cordgrass along
a section of eroding tidal shore. "The
cordgrass will retard erosion and
provide habitat for shrimp and other
marine life," says  Shead. To restore
more habitat, volunteers planted 5,000
young cypress trees in the Trinity River

Friends of Perdido Bay

Jackie Lane lives beside  Perdido Bay, a
small estuary on the Alabama-Florida
border. A biologist who  teaches at
Penascola junior College, she first
became concerned about the bay in
1985. The waters  had turned dark
brown  and smelly. There were fish
kills. A small clam species that Lane
was studying disappeared. "You felt
filthy after swimming in the bay. I was
disgusted," recalls Lane. With other
concerned residents, she formed
Friends of Perdido Bay.
  Today, under a  pilot project  with
EPA's Near Coastal Waters Program, the
Friends help operate a volunteer
monitoring project. "We collect data on
such things as dissolved oxygen levels,
nutrient levels, and rainfall." The
project uses eight  stations in the bay,
eight dock sampling stations, three
remote weather stations, and three
rainfall stations. "We use hand-held
computer systems to record and
transfer data to a computer  system in
an EPA laboratory at Gulf Breeze."
Such data help record trends in bay
conditions. The major discharger into
the bay is a paper mill located  on a bay
tributary, Twelvemile Creek. "We
operate a station in the creek to help
monitor the mill discharge."
  Initial efforts to clean  up  discharges
into the bay were  hampered by split
jurisdiction between Alabama and
Florida. With support from  the Friends,
the two states formed a joint Water
Management Council to better
coordinate water quality programs.
Lane has noticed some gains. "The
water is no longer  dark brown. But we
continue to have noxious blooms of
scum algae. We are concerned about
nutrient loadings and dioxin emissions
from the paper mill. Elevated levels of
dioxin have been found in speckled
trout throughout the bay."

National Estuary Program
for Sarasota  Bay
The dedication and talent of gulf
citizen groups are being tapped by
EPA's National Estuary Program  for
Florida's Sarasota Bay. The NEP
Sarasota Bay  project has identified
restoration of inter-tidal habitat as a key
opportunity in the ongoing
development of a comprehensive action
plan. Under EPA's Early Action
Program, a grant was awarded to help
fund a demonstration restoration
project. The Florida Department  of
Natural Resources provided matching
funds and design expertise to transform
a bayfront parking  lot into inter-tidal
habitat. The City of Sarasota, which
owns the site, acted as lead agency in
doing the actual  excavation and
restoration work.
  The work required the planting of
19,000 plugs  of cordgrass as well as
numerous young mangrove trees. The
city asked for volunteers. Groups like
the Florida Conservation Association,
the Sarasota Sport Fishing Club,  and
the Sarasota County Drop-Out
Prevention Program responded. In the
first week of December 1990, over 100
volunteers  materialized to undertake
the greening of the former parking lot.
Next on the restoration list: an
eight-acre  site on Leffis Key in Manatee
County that will  become more
inter-tidal habitat.
  In another Early Action Program,
some 325 feet of  seawall will give way
to another inter-tidal area on the
bayfront campus  of New College  in
Sarasota. The NEP Program has

                                          £ PA photo
contracted with the College to
accomplish this. "The lawn behind the
seawall will become a seagrass
meadows. Seawall rubble will go to a
facility that recycles old cement," says
Judith Morris, who coordinates  the
college's Environmental Studies
Program with her husband, jono Miller.

Gulf of Mexico Program

Since marine life throughout the gulf is
so dependent on coastal habitat,
protecting this habitat in one  state
benefits the other four gulf states.
Conversely, one state's effort to
conserve can be offset by another state's
  Recognizing the  need for a regional
focus, EPA in 1988 established the Gulf
of Mexico Program. Located in the
Stennis Space Center near Bay St.
Louis, Mississippi, GMP receives active
support from 15  federal and state
resource agencies.  Technical
committees are working on action plans
to address habitat loss, nutrient
enrichment, and other key issues on a
regional, intergovernmental level.
  "We have established a Citizens
Advisory Committee to insure greater
public participation and information
exchange in such planning," says
Program Director Doug Lipka. In
December 1990, GMP held its first
biennial symposium on the
environmental and economic  status of
the gulf in New Orleans, bringing
together citizen groups, regulatory
officials, and policymakers.
  Building on efforts of the Center for
Marine Conservation and the  Oceanic
Society, GMP has worked to secure
more protection for the Gulf from
marine debris. Under international law,
semi-enclosed seas vulnerable to debris
washups can be designated Special
Areas; marine dumping of most trash,
not just plastics, is banned. The
Mediterranean, Baltic, Black,  and Red
seas, along with the Persian and Oman
gulfs, have been  so designated by the
International Maritime Organization.
GMP worked on a technical document
to support this designation for the Gulf
of Mexico. In November 1990, the IMO
set in motion the process to approve
this. The throwaway trash ban will
extend to the Carribean. Nations like
Mexico and  Cuba don't want  marine
dumpers to substitute their shores for
U.S. shores.
  Dr.  Larry McKinney, director of the
Texas Parks  and Wildlife Department,
nominates another issue for more
regional attention—"the region's almost
total inability to adequately address
major oil and chemical spills."
According to McKinney, "The potential
for an environmental disaster v ill
grow, especially in the confined
estuaries of the region that also contain
concentrations of petroleum-refining
  As public concern over  the gulf's
future grows, the GMP is becoming  a
key catalyst  in developing long-term
solutions. As McKinney has noted,
"The Gulf Program can provide the
weave to knit the fabric of an effective
gulf-wide entity to accomplish the goal
of maintaining a healthy and
productive Gulf of Mexico: America's
Sea." D
EPA employees and other interested
citizens helped in a recent Gulf of Mexico
clean-up drive.
                                                                                                        EPA JOURNAL

Runoff  and
 the  Chesapeake Bay
 by William C. Baker  and Tom Morton
(Baker is President of the Chesapeake
Bay Foundation and Horton is senior
writer for the Foundation.)
    The Chesapeake Bay is North
    America's greatest estuary. In the
Chesapeake, fresh water flowing
seaward from nearly 50 rivers mixes
with sea water from the Atlantic ocean
pushing inland as far as 200 miles. The
Chesapeake still supports several
thousand full-time commercial seafood
harvesters and produces half the
nation's catch of blue crabs and a fifth
of its oysters. Well over two million
people still fish and hunt for sport
there each year.
  However, in the last quarter century
the  great bay of Maryland and Virginia
has lost to pollution 80 to 90 percent of
its underwater grass beds that are
critical habitat for a multitude of birds
and fish, and a key means by which the
estuary cleans itself from sediment and
other pollutants. In the same period,
dramatic downturns have occurred in
its populations of striped bass, or
rockfish, its American and hickory
shad, yellow perch, alewife and
blueback herring, white perch, and
other species. Oyster populations, hit
by a combination of disease,
overfishing, and  pollution, are
estimated to be about one percent of
what they were a century ago.
  In 1975, Congressional concern about
environmental trends in the
Chesapeake led to a major, multi-year
study by EPA, the states surrounding
the  bay, and the  District of Columbia.
This resulted in 1983 in an
unprecedented commitment on the part
of these jurisdictions to restore the
estuary to health, a task that would take
years, and probably decades.
  The restoration effort has proceeded
on several fronts, ranging from the
control of toxic chemicals to better
fisheries management, to ambitious
programs that place a permanent cap
on pollution from human sewage, even
as human population continues to
  This article examines nearly a decade
of attempts to control pollution
affecting the Chesapeake in one of the
most challenging of those arenas—the
diffuse runoff of pollutants from land.
  On most maps the Chesapeake Bay is
a large body of water, some 200 miles
                                                                         long and up to 25 miles wide,
                                                                         stretching from Norfolk on its southern
                                                                         end to near the Pennsylvania border on
                                                                         its northern end. Its broad waters are
                                                                         fringed with the shoreline counties of
                                                                         Maryland and Virginia. At the top of
                                                                         the map a thin line intrudes:  the bay's
                                                                         major tributary, the Susquehanna River.
                                                                           In fact, the bay in proper perspective
                                                                         is about fourteen-fifteenths dry land. If
                                                                         we follow the upstream, branching
                                                                         paths of the  Susquehanna and the
                                                                         dozens of other tributary rivers,
                                                                         including the Potomac and the James,
                                                                         they extend through nearly a  sixth of
                                                                         the Eastern Seaboard: from near
                                                                         Vermont's southern border down close
                                                                         to North Carolina, from coal fields in
                                                                         There are methods that will
                                                                         control the runoff of
                                                                         nutrients from farmlands.
West Virginia almost to Delaware's
seacoast. This, the true scope of the
Chesapeake system, comprises a
64,000-square-mile drainage basin, or
watershed, sloping through all or  part
of five states, carrying in its runoff the
byproducts of everything humans do on
the land toward 4,400 square miles of
water, including tributaries, at the
bottom of the watershed.
  Yet another, even less obvious
relation between the Chesapeake's
lands and its waters reinforces its
vulnerability to pollution. The bay,
though long and broad, has very little
water to absorb and dilute pollutants. It
is incredibly shallow; its average depth
less than 22 feet. In contrast to the size
of the lands that drain to it,  the
Chesapeake has less than a tenth the
volume of water of most of the world's
great coastal  and inland water bodies,
  In such a context, we can  begin to
understand why land runoff has
become such a factor in the  quality of
Chesapeake Bay. It is now generally
acknowledged that the estuary cannot
be restored to health without dramatic

reductions in pollution from the land.
Control of the more traditional sources,
like sewage and industrial discharge
pipes, is not enough.

Agricultural Runoff

Agriculture, principally in Virginia,
Maryland, and Pennsylvania, involves
more than a quarter of the bay's
watershed. The runoff of "nutrients,"
the nitrogen and phosphorus that are
prime culprits in the bay's decline, is
several times as great  from farmlands as
it is from any  other source.
  Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus
cause excessive growth of microscopic
floating plant life, or phytoplankton.
This helps shade out light needed for
growth by the estuary's underwater
grass beds. Overenrichment with
plankton also  contributes to frequent
occurrences of low oxygen in the bay's
bottom waters when the plankton
  Farming occupies less acreage in the
watershed now than it did in 1950,
before the bulk of the bay's decline in
water quality began. But the tonnage of
commercial fertilizers per acre has in
many areas doubled or tripled since
that time. In addition, modern animal
agriculture during the same period has
concentrated cows,  hogs, and poultry in
densities 5 to 100 times greater than in
the 1950s, making it much more
difficult to contain runoff of
nutrient-laden manure. An extreme
case, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania,
in the Susquehanna river portion of the
watershed, generates more than 10
billion pounds of manure annually.
  Farmers in such areas often spread
more manure on their land than the
soil can use for growing crops.
Frequently they apply commercial
fertilizers as well. The result is soil that
is saturated with excess nutrients.
Attached to the soil, the nutrients wash
toward the bay in overland runoff.
They can  also  dissolve in water that
percolates below the surface into
streams arid rivers flowing to the
estuary. Polluted land equals polluted
  A rough idea of agriculture's
pollution  potential is indicated by
estimates  that  humans in the watershed
each year generate by  their wastes
about 165 million pounds of nitrogen
and phosphorus. Animal wastes and
commercial fertilizers account for about
a billion  pounds. By no means do all
these nutrients get into the bay. Sewage
treatment removes some nitrogen and
substantial quantities of phosphorus
from human wastes; plants and crops
remove large quantities of nutrients
from farmlands.
   Nevertheless, in an average rainfall
 year roughly 60 percent of the nitrogen
 and 40 percent of the phosphorus that
 does reach the bay are estimated to
 come from land runoff, and farms are
 the largest source. In dry years land
 runoff comprises a smaller proportion
 of the  totals; in wet years, a larger
 proportion. These overall  bay
 percentages vary widely among
 sub-drainage basins. The James, for
 example, the bay's third largest
 tributary, is overwhelmingly dominated
 by nutrients from sewage  treatment
   A primary goal of  the Chesapeake
 Bay clean-up effort since 1987 has been
 to reduce the amount of nutrients that
 get into the water. For sewage, the goal
 is to reduce nutrients by 40 percent
 from 1985 levels; for agricultural
 runoff, the goal is reduction by 40
 percent from an average rainfall year.
 The reductions are supposed to be
 permanent. They are supposed to "cap"
 any further growth of nutrients
 polluting the bay, even as their sources
 continue to grow.
   Such reductions from agriculture
 appear to be achievable and have been
 the focus of intensive efforts in all three
 principal bay states for several years
 now. However, the minimal results
 seen in water quality to date
 underscore the magnitude of the
 problem of runoff.

Alice Jane Lippson drawing Reproduced with permission
Underwater plants, which are essential
for aquatic life, can be suffocated by the
excessive growth of phytoplankton
caused by runoff of nutrients such as
animal wastes and fertilizers.
  Accounting for progress in
controlling pollution that seeps from
millions of acres of land, rather than
from a relative handful of discharge
pipes,  has proven difficult in itself.
EPA has estimated that between 1985
and 1990 agricultural phosphorus
runoff has been reduced by 10.5
percent and nitrogen by 9.5 percent.
This would appear to be a reasonably
good start toward the goal of 40-percent
reduction by the year 2000.
  However, a recent study by the
Metropolitan Washington Council of
Governments estimated nutrient
reductions  from agriculture in counties
drained by the Potomac to be 10 times
less than reductions projected  by using
current federal and  state accounting
  Officials  have assumed that  much of
the task of  nutrient  control could be
piggy-backed onto the traditional
erosion control programs that have
been administered for decades under
agencies like the Soil Conservation
Service (SCS). Accounting often has
involved simply adding up the acres of
farmland that have, in SCS jargon,  been
"benefited" by such programs, and
multiplying their  number by a fixed
tonnage of nitrogen  and phosphorus per
  However, it turns out that controlling
the movement of soil does not
necessarily control the runoff of
nutrients placed on  the soil.  In some
cases, particularly with water-soluble
nitrogen, retarding soil runoff only
redirects the nutrient, concentrating
pollution in ground water where it
eventually makes its way into  streams,
rivers,  and  the bay.  Worse yet, drain
systems incorporated in some control
methods actually  hasten the passage of
nutrients toward waterways.
  In dry weather, ground water seeping
into waterways is the source of
virtually all the water flowing  to the
bay. This "invisible river" has  been
calculated to approximate roughly the
magnitude of the James.
  It is  not surprising, then, that more
than a  decade of monitoring of
nutrients flowing  down the
Susquehanna into the bay shows only a
slight drop in phosphorus levels, and a
modest increase in nitrogen levels.
  There are methods that will  control
the runoff of nutrients from farmlands.
Manure can be stored in concrete or
steel pits. Winter  "cover crops,"  like
rye or  winter wheat, will  hold  soil  in
place,  take  up excess nutrients left  in
the soil, and fix nitrogen from  the air.
After they've been plowed back into the
soil the following spring,  the farmer
needs to add  less  fertilizer. The
planting of forested  buffer strips
                                                                                                        EPA JOURNAL

                                                                                              A typical scene on
                                                                                              the Chesapeake.
                                                                                              Runoff from
                                                                                              development as well
                                                                                              as farming activities
                                                                                              disturbs the bay's
                                                                                              fragile ecosystem.
between farm fields and waterways
appears a good bet to control both
phosphorus and nitrogen. Providing
farmers with more sophisticated soil
analyses, so that they can apply only as
much fertilizer as their crops require,
has shown real success in places like
  The problem is that these, like
virtually all agricultural
pollution-control programs, remain
largely voluntary. The results have been
that much of the bay states' spending
on farm runoff control has been skewed
to what farmers want, and this is often
not what is most cost effective.
  In sum, it appears  that while meeting
the ambitious reduction goals for
agricultural runoff to the bay are
possible, they are not likely to be
achieved without substantial changes in
current programs.

Runoff From Development

Although agricultural use of the
watershed is  the largest contributor to
polluted  land runoff, by far the fastest
growing part  of the problem  is from the
development of open space for
residences and commerce.
  During the next 30 years the
watershed will go from 11 percent
urban and suburban to about 15
percent, an alteration of 1.6 million
acres of fields and  forest. In Maryland,
the most rapidly suburbanizing of the
three principal bay states, acreage of
developed land will nearly double.
  Such development creates  runoff
problems that fall into two broad
categories: sediment from lands  bared
for development, and stormwater
carrying a host of pollutants  off the
impervious surfaces that have replaced
the natural vegetation.
  Whenever it rains,  an acre  of land
cleared for construction can flush a
hundred times the  sediment into

                           Skip Brown photo.
waterways as a well-managed farmland
can, and up to a thousand times as
much as a forest. The abrupt inflow of
thousands of tons of soil into a  stream
can be as deadly as a spill of oil or raw
sewage, more so perhaps, since
sediment never degrades but keeps
getting resuspended by tide and wind
to cloud the water.
  Sediment pollutes by smothering fish
eggs, by tearing at the fragile gills of
just-born fish, and by covering gravel
bottoms that are prime habitats  for fish
spawning and for aquatic insects.
Farther downriver it may cover  oyster
beds, thereby preventing the
free-floating young of oysters from
attaching to clean shells and then
forming their own. Sediment also
clouds the water, along with the
Rainwater washing off
urban pavement and other
impervious surfaces can be
shockingly polluted....
plankton blooms fueled by excess
nutrients, and cuts off sunlight to the
bottom. The sunlight is necessary to the
growth of the submerged grasses  that
are critical habitat in streams and in the
Chesapeake proper.
  During the 1970s all three bay states
enacted laws designed to control
sediment from developing lands.  The
"filter fences" of straw bales and  black
cloth that one sees staked into the
ground around roadbuilding and  other
construction sites is one technique.
Another is the building of settling
ponds to catch and filter water draining
from the sites.
  These controls cannot eliminate
sediment pollution, but they can  reduce
Maryland Sea Grant College.
 it by as much as 90 percent by weight.
 However, the finer, lighter particles of
 sediment escape the controls, and it is
 these particles that stay suspended in
 the water the longest. Water clarity may
 be degraded despite  efficient sediment
   How are the states doing? The
 Chesapeake Bay Foundation recently
 conducted random appraisals of
 sediment and stormwater controls in 31
 counties and townships from Scranton,
 Pennsylvania, to Norfolk, Virginia. The
 survey was not intended to be a
 statistically precise representation of
 the entire watershed. However, it is
 probably the most in-depth,
 independent check in recent years on
 what progress state and local
 governments are making in controlling
 polluted runoff.
   Overall, 26 percent of the
 construction sites were judged to be in
 full  accordance with all requirements
 for sediment control by the applicable
 state. By state, Maryland had 42
 percent of sites adequate, with Virginia
 at 19 percent and Pennsylvania, 13
 percent. Pennsylvania's specifications
 were somewhat tougher than those of
 the other  two states.  Applying
 Maryland standards  would have raised
 Pennsylvania to 26 percent adequate.
 Another 66 percent of all sites were
 rated inadequate, and five percent, all
 in Pennsylvania,  showed no sign of
 using required sediment  controls.
   All three states are upgrading their
 sediment control programs, but if the
 results of the survey are typical, large
 improvements could be made simply
 by enforcing what is already in place.
 However, it appears  that there are
 limits to what sediment-control
 structures can contain. Some huge
 highway projects around Annapolis, for
 example,  which were not part of the

survey, have literally wiped out or
jeopardized whole stream systems
despite what is considered
state-of-the-art attention to sediment
  There also appears to be too much
reliance on the use of structural
controls like filter fences and sediment
basins to keep pollution from the water.
Requiring that natural vegetation be left
between development and  waterways,
thereby preventing pollution from
occurring in the first place, may be
more effective.
  Damage to the environment doesn't
end once a development is complete
even though sediment loads drop
dramatically once a site has been paved
and landscaped. Rainwater washing off
urban pavement and other impervious
surfaces can be shockingly polluted,
especially the  "first flush," in which
dry-weather accumulations of
pollutants that have fallen  from the air,
from car  exhausts, and  from
accumulations of oxygen-demanding
organic matter like grass clippings, all
wash  into storm drains and creeks. Pets
are estimated to deposit more than
seven million  pounds of feces annually
on streets in the District of Columbia
  In some urban areas,  stormwater
channeled through the  sewage-
treatment plant may so exceed the
plant's capacity that it carries with it
raw or poorly  treated sewage as well as
polluted  runoff. This "combined sewer
overflow" plagues Richmond and
Washington. In a city like Baltimore.
where the stormwater is not channeled
through the treatment plant, it may just
dump directly into waterways.
  Stormwater  can also severely degrade
smaller waterways physically. Most
people think of paved or impervious
surfaces as roads and parking lots. But
they also include roofs, driveways,
When sediment covers oyster beds,
free-floating oyster young have trouble
attaching themselves to clean shells
before forming their own.
sidewalks, patios, even car tops. It does
not take extreme urbanization to
"harden" as much as half of a
developed piece of land.
  Once that happens, rain that used to
soak into the soil flows quickly and
directly down gutters and  drains and
into streams. The stream is subject to
fierce flooding for a few hours; then,
when it is dry, it is no longer fed by
slow seepage through its bed and
banks. The water that used to seep
underground, replenishing the water
table, has run off from the new, paved
Pete are  estimated to deposit
more  than seven million
pounds of feces annually on
streets in the District of
Columbia alone.
  This feast-or-famine flow wreaks
havoc on the stream's habitat. It is easy
to see if one compares an urban to a
rural creek. The channel will be
widened and the banks eroded in the
former setting. After a rain, it will surge
wildly with  water, then run almost dry
within 24  hours. The country creek will
be more stable, rising less in
rainstorms, falling less in droughts. It
will be, in short, a better place for fish
to live.
  Studies  in various parts of the bay
area have  found that  as the amount of
paving in  a stream's watershed goes up,
aquatic life in  the stream declines, even
if there are no specific pollution
sources present. Such degradation can
start by the time 12 percent of the
watershed is paved. That's equivalent
to developing  the entire watershed with
suburban  homes on two-acre lots.  By
the time imperviousness reaches 25
percent, equivalent to two homes per
acre, degradation  can be severe.
  All  three principal bay states have
developed laws in the last decade or so
aimed at controlling stormwater runoff
from new  development. Most
developments affected by these new
laws must include some sort of pond,
Alice Jane iippson drawing. Reprinted wirh permission.

basin, vegetated buffer strips, or other
device designed to detain, slow, and
even out the surges of stormwater.
  However, there have been no state
requirements that address the pollution
carried by stormwater runoff and, not
surprisingly, the 31 counties and
townships in the Bay Foundation
survey were found to be doing very
little to check such pollution.
  All told, the survey took in 90 sites
in the three states. Information was
available to assess 78 for stormwater
controls. A quarter of these were
exempt from using controls because of
their small size, or because it seemed
the controls would do more damage
than not  building them.
  Nearly half of the 78 employ controls
which do little  to protect bay tributaries
beyond minimizing flooding. Only
eight percent employ measures that
address the wider range  of impacts
associated with stormwater runoff.
  As with sediment, all  three states are
upgrading their stormwater controls to
improve the quality as well as reduce
the quantity of runoff from  lands under
development. It has been calculated
that stormwater pollution from the 78
sites is two to five times higher than it
was prior to development. If the bay
watershed is to accommodate the huge
projected increases in land
development, and at the same time bay
water quality is going  to be restored,
then new development should aim, at a
minimum, for a zero increase in
polluted runoff from stormwater. The
survey indicates that the region is a
long way from this goal.
  A thorough study of stormwater and
sediment controls in the Washington
Metropolitan  Area concluded that even
the best controls would merely slow
the growth of pollution,  not reduce it,
or even hold the line. The best hope,
the study said, lay in reducing the
pollutants coming from existing
development  as well as new
  Such urban "retrofit" may involve a
range of techniques: frequent street
sweeping and scooping up after pets,  as
practiced successfully in New York
City; placing gravel-filled "infiltration
trenches" on the edges of developments
to let the "first flush" of stormwater
soak into the ground; or  trapping the
super-polluted first flush, and sending
only that portion of the stormwater
runoff through sewage treatment plants.
  In sum, the Chesapeake Bay's
restoration depends fully as much on
controlling pollution running off the
lands of its vast watershed as it does on
controlling the more traditional
sources, such as discharges  from
sewage and industrial  pipes, n

                           EPA JOURNAL

   Pollution-Prevention  Tactics
   in  the Gulf  of Maine
   by Melissa Waterman
         We've all heard a relative or friend
         admonish in a cautionary tone:
   "Remember, an ounce of prevention is
   worth a pound of cure." While trite,
   this proverb may well hold true both
   for personal behavior and for the
   management of marine water bodies.
   Around the nation we see strong
   environmental protection programs
   emerging only after evidence of
   degradation of land, air, and water
   becomes inescapable. Millions of
   dollars are poured into the laudable
   task of "cleaning up" the Chesapeake  or
   the Great Lakes. However, in New
   England the old proverb  is being used
   as the philosophical foundation upon
   which to build a different kind of
   marine protection program.
     The Gulf of Maine is one of the
   world's most productive  water bodies.
   Its plentiful resources supported Native
   American populations and drew bevies
   of European settlers to its shores. The

   (Waterman is a Program  Planner for the
   Gulf of Maine at the Maine Stale
   Planning Agency.]

bottom contours of the gulf make it a
semi-enclosed sea, almost entirely
separated from the Atlantic by
underwater banks, of which Georges
Bank is the best known. The major
avenue through which cold ocean
waters enter the gulf is the  761-foot
deep Northeast Channel.
  The gulf is surrounded by the states
of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and
Maine and the provinces of New
Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Recently,
the states and provinces came together
to create a program to protect the Gulf
of Maine and its abundant natural
resources before harm occurs.
  The gulf's reputation as a rich fishing
ground steins from a seasonal
abundance of phytoplankton. To grow,
these microscopic, free-floating plants
depend upon available nutrients and
sunlight. In the Gulf of Maine,
phytoplankton are abundant because
the surface and bottom waters mix
vigorously. This vertical mixing is
driven by the strong tides and currents
that flow  through the gulf. The gulf's
counterclockwise current, in turn, is
                                                                           powered by 250 billion gallons of fresh
                                                                           water that enter the gulf each year from
                                                                           the region's rivers.
                                                                             The vertical mixing brings critical
                                                                           nutrients into warmer, sunlit waters,
                                                                           where phytoplankton are able to grow,
                                                                           or "bloom." Phytoplankton are critical
                                                                           to the ecology of the gulf because they
                                                                           serve as the base of its diverse marine
                                                                           food chain. Over 100 species of birds,
                                                                           73 species of fish, and 26 different
                                                                           species of whales, porpoises, and seals
                                                                           reside in the gulf.

                                                                           In New England, an  old
                                                                           proverb is being used as the
                                                                           philosophical foundation
                                                                           upon  which to  build a
                                                                           different kind  of marine
                                                                           protection program.
  Although the Gulf of Maine remains
a fertile body of water, there are signs
of changes occurring in its system. The
effects of the states' and provinces'
increasing populations are apparent not
only on crowded highways and in
coastal parks, but within  the gulf itself.
  In the  years between 1950 and  1980,
huge swaths of  agricultural and forested
lands disappeared from the gutf coast.
In Rockport, Maine, for example,
developed land within the town
borders increased by 300 percent. As
more land is developed, less land is
available to act  as a natural filter  for
runoff. As  a result, more  potentially
harmful  substances are swept into the
  Large tracts of land developed for
housing  create a problem of sewage
treatment.  Much of the gulf coast is
either rocky, and hence unsuitable for a
standard tank and field septic system,
or composed of sandy glacial outwash
soils, which can only marginally  filter
the effluent of individual septic
systems. In addition, as cities such as
Portland and St. John grow, their
antiquated sewage treatment systems
provide only minimal treatment of

        Bo£> Bowman photo Allied Whale
urban sewage. Combined sewer
overflows in many cities allow nearly
untreated sewage to enter the bays and
harbors of the gulf. The result has been
ever-increasing closures of productive
shellfish  flats due to contamination by
fecal cotiform bacteria.
  The effects of population growth are
most acute during the summer months.
During recent decades, the gulf region
has grown in status as a summer tourist
destination. Acadia National Park in
Maine and Canada's Fundy National
Park in New Brunswick draw  huge
numbers of people each summer; in
1988 Acadia alone had over 4.5  million
visitors. Many visitors travel along the
scenic coastal routes, such as U.S.
Route 1,  contributing to
nonpoint-source runoff from the roads
to the Gulf of Maine and degrading the
region's air quality.
  A National Marine Fisheries Service
study in  1982 in Boothbay Harbor,
Maine, revealed lead levels in crabs as
high as those found in animals from
New York City and Philadelphia
harbors.  Research into the history of
Boothbay Harbor unearthed no
industrial activities that might account
for the lead. Nor were the products of
the municipal sewage treatment plant
found to be the culprit. The study
concluded that exhaust and oil
drippings from the 5,000  cars that pass
through Boothbay Harbor daily during
the summer months could account for
the lead  levels.  Studies such as  this
indicate  that the steady increase in
seasonal tourists, while beneficial  for
the immediate economy, may have a
long-term effect on the gulf.
  Over the centuries, both the
provinces and states have converted
many acres of coastal wetlands and
mudflats by diking and filling.
Estimates indicate that in the four
Canadian maritime provinces,
approximately 65 percent of tidal
marshes and flats have been altered or
lost entirely. An indeterminate number
of acres of coastal wetlands have been
filled along the coast of the three states.
The study concluded that
exhaust and oil drippings
from the 5,000 cars that pass
through Boothbay Harbor
daily during the summer
months could  account for the
lead levels.
Some say the loss has affected gulf
fisheries, since estuaries and associated
wetlands serve as nurseries for a variety
of commercially valuable species. The
plummeting populations of black duck
and other migratory bird species are
further clues that critical coastal
habitats along the entire eastern
seaboard are disappearing.
  Then there are the multiple toxic
elements entering the Gulf of Maine
system. Everyone  is familiar with the
highly degraded environment of Boston
or Salem harbors.  With varying degrees
of severity, all the major ports along the
gulf suffer from the effects of years of
pollution. However, a less  visible
problem is  posed by the numerous
rivers that enter the gulf. Although the
U.S. and Canadian federal  governments
regulate a limited  number of identified
toxic elements, a multitude of other
substances  for which standards have
not yet been devised are discharged by
industries into rivers that enter the gulf.
Elevated levels of specific heavy metals
have been found in the sediments that
lie in the gulf's deep offshore basins,
indicating that toxic contamination
does not remain isolated to near-shore
  To date, instances of pollution have
been relatively specific. Yet a growing
sense of concern for the overall future
of the gulf prompted environmental
officials from the states and provinces
to meet to discuss common issues.
Although both the United States and
Canada recognized intense harvesting
of fish  stocks as a profound problem,
water quality and habitat protection
were considered the paramount issues.
  In late 1989, a working group from
the states and provinces published a
report, The Gul/ of Maine: Sustaining
our Common Heritage. The report
detailed the environmental
characteristics ^ the gulf, the human
values  drawn from it, and the growing
stresses placed upon it. The group then
hosted a Gulf of Maine conference in
Portland, Maine, which was attended
by over 250 scientists, fishermen,
bureaucrats, academicians, and citizens.
At the  close of the conference, the
Agreement on the Conservation of the
Marine Environment of the Gulf of
Maine  was signed by the Governors and
Premiers of the five states and
  The agreement makes clear the intent
of the states and provinces concerning
future use of the gulf:  "The Parties to
this agreement recognize a shared duty
to protect and conserve the renewable
and non-renewable resources of the gulf
for  the use, benefit and enjoyment of  all
                                                                                                       EPA JOURNAL

A finback whale surfaces off the Maine
Coast, in the background is the Mt.
Desert Rock Marine Research Station of
the College of the Atlantic.
                                                         With a little help from the National
                                                         Audubon Society, Atlantic puffins are
                                                         returning to former nesting islands in
                                                         Maine. The Gulf of Maine is still
                                                         relatively healthy as an ecosystem.
                                                         Adjoining states and provinces are
                                                         working together to  keep it that way.
                                  Bab Bowman photo Allied Whale.
   their citizens, including generations yet
   to come .  . . ." With this language, the
   Governors and Premiers echoed the
   principles stated in the United Nations'
   report Our Common Future (1987),
   which called for sustainable
   development of the world's resources.
   The findings of the agreement
   acknowledged that the gulf in its
   present state is, for the most part,
   healthy. The fear was that without
   prompt protection efforts by the states
   and provinces, the long-term health of
   the gulf would be jeopardized.
    The 1989 agreement established a
   Council on the Marine Environment as
   a new international organization.
   Composed of appointed members from
   the five jurisdictions, the council's
   responsibilities include developing  a
   program for monitoring the quality of
   the region's marine environment and
   writing a  10-year Gulf of Maine Action
    An initial draft of the action plan was
   released by the council in December
   1990. Its thrust is prevention;  its theme
   is cooperation. By fostering
   communication among the states and
   provinces, by improving availability of
   information throughout the region, by
   augmenting existing monitoring
   programs—by these and a multitude of
   other cooperative ventures, the plan
   paves the  way for future compatible
environmental protection activities by
members of the council. Highlights
from the action plan include:
• Reviewing state and provincial
oil-spill contingency plans to identify
methods for improved cooperation in
the event of a major spill
• Developing a regional database of
current and historic environmental data
in a format accessible throughout the
• Identifying additional sites within
the gulf region that will provide habitat
for migratory birds and devising a
regional plan to support protection of
the sites
• Evaluating the need for a common
critical habitat mapping system
• Supporting a regional study and
evaluation  of restoration and  mitigation
techniques used in gulf coastal
wetlands and other coastal habitats of
regional concern
• Developing a Gulf of Maine Marine
Mammals Protection Plan in order to
set priorities for protection of critical
• Initiating an agency personnel
exchange program that will promote the
exchange of ideas and information
•  Establishing a Gulf of Maine
Environmental Award program to give
recognition to the pollution prevention
activities of industry, organizations,
and  individuals.
  It  is anticipated that the council  will
adopt the draft action plan in June
1991. However, the plan will always be
considered a blueprint and will be
reviewed and revised within five years
of adoption. With commitment arid
support over the next decade from the
public, the state and provincial
governments,  and the two federal
governments,  the blueprint will grow
into  a sound and long-lived
environmental protection program.

  The Council on the Marine
Environment,  although still young, may
turn out to be the best avenue for
ongoing cooperation among the states
and  provinces on a  spectrum of marine
issues. Development of the action plan
and  initiation  of a regional Monitoring
Program are just two examples of the
council's initiatives within the Gulf
Program, Efforts to develop a  regional
environmental consciousness around
the gulf find expression in a variety of
public education materials,
collaborative data-management projects,
and  professional workshops.
  Historically, the Gulf of Maine has
served as the physical and economic
link  between the three states and two
provinces. In practice, this geo-political
link  has proved to be strong and
productive, as the Gulf Working Group
has shown. Clearly, the strength of the
Gulf Program comes from its genesis  as
an indigenous effort of the states and
provinces. Although it is too early to
predict the outcome of the program, the
congenial relations among the  Working
Group, the Gulf Council, and the
governors and premiers hold great
promise for improved stewardship of
this fertile, but fragile water
body. In this case, an ounce of
prevention might eliminate the need  for
a cure. D

San  Francisco  Bay:
Beset  by  Freshwater  Diversion
 by Harry Seraydarian
      Water is the lifeblood of California.
      It fuels a multibillion dollar
agricultural economy and quenches the
thirst of increasing masses of people.
The problem for California,  however, is
that water is not found in the same
place it is needed and used. About 70
percent of the state's annual runoff
occurs north of Sacramento, the capital
that lies in the center of the state: 80
percent of the water consumption
occurs south of this city. In  order to
compensate for this uneven distribution
and ensure a more reliable water
supply statewide, the state built the
world's largest manmade water system
to convey water from the north to the
 Since the discovery of gold
 in 1849,  the estuary has
 undergone tremendous
  California's ongoing struggle for
water centers largely on the San
Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary as the
major supplier of water for the entire
state. Located at the mouth of the
Sacramento-San Joaquin river system, it
is the largest and most important
estuary on the west coast of North and
South America. It supports a complex
ecosystem—including the state's largest
anadromous fishery, provides fresh
water for much of California's
population, and supports its
agricultural interests.
  Since the discovery of gold in 1849,
the estuary has undergone tremendous
change.  A huge increase in population,
industrial  development, the
establishment of agricultural interests,
and water diversions have altered the
estuary forever. Today, the San
 (Seraydarian is Director of (he Wafer
 Management Division in EPA's flegion
 9 and Chair of Ihe San Francisco
 Estuary Project's Management
Francisco Estuary is considered one of
the most modified estuaries in the
United States due to major changes to
its waterways forspurposes of
navigation, water export, and flood
control and the diversion of fresh water
that historically flowed through the
  The estuary is many things to many
people. It is home for seven million
Bay Area residents, a biological
resource of enormous importance, a
productive nursery for marine fish and
crabs, an  important wintering habitat
for migratory birds, a beautiful harbor
of international significance, a boater's
paradise,  and the source of drinking
water for 40 percent of the state and
irrigation water for much of the state's
agricultural lands.
  Like estuaries everywhere, the San
Francisco Estuary is one of the most
biologically productive environments
on Earth. This unique ecosystem, with
its mix of fresh water from the river
and salt water from the ocean, is
brimming with life. It provides habitat
for millions of creatures. It supports
over 150 species of fish, including a
commercial fishing industry of herring
and anchovies, and large recreational
fisheries for salmon, striped  bass,
steelhead trout, shad, and sturgeon.
  It contains the largest wetland habitat
in the western United States and is an
internationally significant shorebird
area. Hundreds of thousands of
shorebirds migrating along the coast
route of the Pacific Flyway find their
way to the estuary's wetlands to feed
and rest. Loons, grebes, pelicans,
cormorants, herons, swans, egrets,
ducks, geese, rails, plovers, curlews,
willets, and sandpipers congregate on
the  estuary's waters and shoreline.
Many  of the estuary's rare or
endangered species, including the
California clapper rail, California black
                                   Bob Walker photo.
                                                                                                 EPA JOURNAL

rail, and salt marsh song sparrow, are
dependent upon its wetland habitats.
  In addition to sustaining this
important ecosystem, the San Francisco
Estuary also attempts to meet the needs
of an $18 billion agricultural industry.
Eighty-five percent of the state's
managed water supply  is used for farm
irrigation. California produces over 200
crops, including 45 percent of all the
fruits and vegetables consumed in the
United States. The introduction of
irrigation (using fresh water diverted
from the estuary)  has transformed the
arid, 500-mile long Central Valley from
a near-desert into a lush garden land.
  The estuary also supplies 40 percent
of the state's drinking water. As more
and more  people  migrate to California,
attracted by the mild, Mediterranean
climate—wet winters and  dry
summers—the demand for water will
continue to escalate. Southern
California, which receives most of the
population increase, is  now growing at
California has constructed an elaborate
system to carry water from north to
south, diverting much fresh water from
the San Francisco estuary in the process.
This aqueduct crosses the state's Central
the astronomical rate of 350,000
persons a year.
  Until recently, the illusion has
prevailed that there was enough water
to serve all of these diverse uses;
however, it is now apparent that some
needs have been met at the expense of
others. The symptoms and danger signs
are everywhere.
  Pish populations in the estuary have
plummeted. Natural salmon
populations have declined 75 percent
from historic levels. The number of
striped bass, an indicator species used
to gauge the health of aquatic life in the
estuary, has decreased  70 percent since
1960. Fishery agencies attribute these
declines to a number of factors  related
to water diversions.
  Historically, the average annual fresh
water flow to  the bay and Delta in
nondrought years has ranged from 19 to
27.5 million acre-feet. Today, nearly  40
percent of the historic flow is removed
for local consumption upstream and
within the Delta.  Another 24 percent is
diverted from the delta through the
state and federal water projects  for
agricultural and municipal use  in
central and southern California.
  Low flows  interfere with the
migration and spawning of anadromous
fish such as salmon and striped bass.
These fish spend  their  juvenile  lives  in
the fresh water of the river, move
downstream into  the saltier ocean
waters to feed and grow, and ultimately
return upstream years later to spawn
and die. As juveniles, they seek out a
particularly rich feeding area found
immediately downstream from the
freshwater-saltwater interchange.
  This region, known as the
entrapment zone, is a highly productive
area that serves as the basis of the food
chain upon which the estuary's shrimp,
clams, fish, and waterfowl depend. The
location of the entrapment zone, which
moves depending on whether water
flows are heavy or light, is mosl
important during the crucial spring
months when newly hatched fish move
downstream to feed. When  the river
flows are low, the entrapment zone is
pushed upstream into the narrower,
deeper river channels resulting in a loss
of food abundance.
  To make matters worse, millions of
juvenile salmon and striped bass are
sucked into the diversion pumps at the
south end of the delta each year
because of a peculiar reverse river flow
created by the powerful pumps during
the dry season. This reverse flow
confuses migrating fish, and in spite of
protective devices, the pumps destroy
hundreds of millions of juvenile fish
and fish eggs each year. Various
mitigation measures continue to be
tested to reduce this critical loss of fish
to the pumps.
  Low flows also increase salinity and
temperature levels affecting  the
distribution and abundance  of many
organisms. A complex community of
interdependent plant and animal life
thrives in the estuary and is dependent
for its survival on  a consistent and
adequate supply of fresh water.
  Water quantity has a direct impact on
water quality. Water quality in the
estuary cannot be sustained  without
sufficient fresh water flows.  As more
fresh water is diverted  and ocean water
intrudes further upstream, salinity
becomes a problem affecting the quality
of water used for human consumption
and crop irrigation. And  the diversion
of fresh  water has  exacerbated problems
including drastic losses of tidal
wetlands and wildlife habitat,
intensified land-use pressure, and
increased  pollutants.
  But not just the  biological resources
of the San Francisco Estuary are at risk:
The survival of southern California's
economy and way of life are also at
stake. Southern California's  lifeline is
directly connected to the waters of the
estuary. Faced with a burgeoning
population and reduced allocations
from their Mono Lake and Colorado
River water supplies, southern
Californians view with alarm any
suggestions to cut  their water
allotments  from the north.
  California's agricultural industry is
even more reliant upon the water
diverted from the estuary than
California's proliferating  population.
Agriculture currently uses about five

limes the amount of water consumed
by households and industry in the
  Unfortunately, the prospect of finding
untapped water supplies for the state is
slim. Meanwhile, the health of the
estuary continues to deteriorate.
  Who has responsibility for resolving
California's water conflicts?
  The State Water Resources Control
Board (State Board) plays a key role in
water decisions in California as it has
authority both to set water quality
standards and to allocate water rights.
Its mandate is to balance the needs of
the environment, agriculture, and urban
users. It is  now conducting hearings to
determine how to balance
environmental protection for the
estuary with other statewide water
needs. The State Board must develop
water-quality standards to protect the
estuary and may, consequently, revise
water allocations. Such revision powers
place the State Board under
tremendous pressure from the
environmental community on the one
side and on the other from central and
southern California water contractors,
who are jealously protective of their
water rights.
  If the State Board fails to set water
quality standards which provide
adequate protections for the estuary,
under the Clean Water Act, EPA can
disapprove the state's standards and
promulgate its own. EPA prefers to
defer to the State Board's process to
develop standards. However, if the
State Board is too slow in adopting
standards that meet federal
requirements, EPA may  have to
  The 1987 amendments to the Clean
Water Act  established the National
Estuary Program to  restore and  protect
important coastal resources, including
the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.
The San Francisco Estuary Project, a
cooperative effort involving EPA and
the State Board, is also looking at the
subject of fresh water flows and will
make management recommendations
for the protection and restoration of the
estuary in its Comprehensive
Conservation and Management Plan
due out in late 1992.
  The estuary is in distress. That reality
can no longer be ignored. Fresh water
is critical to protecting this valuable
resource. But exactly how much is
needed to protect the estuary is
unknown. Estimates range widely from
Fresh water is critical to
protecting this valuable
1.5 to 5 or 6 million acre feet of water.
(For comparison, one acre foot—or
roughly 326,000 gallons of water—will
support a family of five for one year.)
  One thing is certain. The estuary
cannot meet all of California's projected
increasing water needs.
  In a recent draft Bay-Delta report, the
State Board acknowledged that "full
protection of all beneficial uses in all
water years is impossible. There simply
is not enough water....  Some
accommodation has to occur."
  Given the unlikely prospect of new
water supplies, it is essential that
Californians learn to use the water they
already have more efficiently. While
water conservation and reclamation are
not the sole answers to a limited water
supply, they are both an  integral part of
any solution. California's past four
years of drought conditions have
provided some  valuable examples.
  Many communities  have dramatically
reduced water consumption by
installing low-flow shower heads,
toilets, and faucets; fixing leaky
fixtures; converting landscape to
drought-tolerant plants; and installing
drip irrigation systems.
  Agriculture, as the state's primary
water user, is a prime candidate for
conservation. Water is a highly
subsidized commodity for many
farmers, and there is little incentive to
use it efficiently. Agricultural users
currently pay from $3 to $15 per
acre-foot for federally subsidized water
and $50 per acre foot for state water,
while urban users generally pay from
$150 to $300 for an acre-foot. Four
water-intensive crops—cotton, rice,
alfalfa, and irrigated pasture—use over
half of agriculture's water supplies in
California but return less than a tenth
of the value of other crops. If
California's farmers conserved 10
percent of their normal water use, three
million acre feet of water would be
available for other purposes.
  Water marketing is also being tried.
Farmers have the option of selling
water which they do not use. The
potential profit from this unused water
provides an incentive to conserve.
Urban water users and other potential
buyers are the beneficiaries. Although
water marketing is controversial and
there are significant institutional
barriers to overcome, Southern
California's Metropolitan Water District,
assisted by the Environmental Defense
Fund,  is experimenting with this
concept and has contracted for water
conserved by Imperial Valley farmers.
  California has been in the forefront of
reclamation research and has
encouraged local and regional
programs. Reclamation programs now
being developed will reuse treated
wastewater. Treated sewage can be
used for landscape or agricultural
irrigation or pumped underground to
replenish  ground-water supplies  for
future use.
  But time is running out for the
estuary. Only a major shift in the way
Californians think about and use water
will save it. If all Californians take
responsibility for using water
responsibly, the estuary may have a
chance. Then, future generations will
know an estuary which is vital,
beautiful,  and teeming with life,  o
                                                                                                         EPA JOURNAL

An  Early Success
for the
Delaware   Bay
 by Bruce Stutz
 (Stutz, who writes on science, natural
 history, and the environment, is writing
 a book on the Delaware River.J
    By 1945, after three centuries of
    hard use, the Delaware Bay was
almost used up. Its shellfisheries were
in decline, its shad and sturgeon
fisheries decimated, its shorelines often
awash with human and industrial
  It once had a more pleasing aspect.
Historically, its shores were lined with
great stands of oak, hickory, and pine;
its tidewater swamps full of cedar, its
marshes full of roosting seabirds or
flocks of migrating waterfowl.
  "I have nowhere seen so many ducks
together," a 17th century journalist
wrote of a Delaware wetland. "The
water was so black with them that it
seemed when you looked from the land
below upon the water, as if it were a
mass of filth or turf, and when  they
flew up there  was a rushing and
vibration of the air like a great storm
coming through the trees, and even like
the rumbling of distant thunder ...."
  Shoreline towns with names  like
Caviar, Shellpile, and  Bivalve boasted
of the productivity of the bay's waters.
Schooners from as far  north as
Philadelphia worked the seemingly
limitless oyster beds. Travelers in the
upper Delaware Bay wrote of schools of
leaping sturgeon that tipped small
vessels. Shad made spring runs to the
freshwater reaches of all the bay's
tributaries. Even dolphins once
schooled up the bay as far as
  But as elsewhere, settlers along the
bay and Delaware River —the Swedes,
Dutch, and English—began changing
the land. To gain  pasture and grazing
land, farmers built earthen banks 5 to
10 feet high around the marshes,
dammed the streams that ran through
them,  and then dug a grid of ditches to
drain them dry. The damming and
draining very soon became
institutionalized on both shores of the
bay as companies formed to build and
maintain the banks, sluices, ditches,
and dams. Waterfowl had fewer feeding
grounds; fish had fewer streams in
which to spawn. The clearing of forests
along the bay tributaries and in the
mountains of the upper Delaware River
also had its effect, causing soil to run
off into streams, the silt eventually
reaching the bay.
  Nevertheless, well into the 19th
century the fisheries seemed to
flourish. Railcars full of oysters were
shipped daily from Port Morris.
Sturgeon were so plentiful that once
the fish were stripped of their roe, their
carcasses were dumped back into the
bay. Between 1896 and 1901, the
                                                                           By 1945,  after three
                                                                           centuries of hard use, the
                                                                           Delaware Bay was almost
                                                                           used up.
catches of shad in the Delaware River
alone were greater than in any other
river along the Atlantic coast. Such
catches almost made both fishermen
and scientists forget the sudden decline
in the number of fish caught only a few
years before, including sturgeon
catches, which dropped precipitously.
  According to the 1895 report of the
Pennsylvania Fish Commission, "The
general impression among the
fishermen is that the decrease in the
catch during the past four springs is
due to the increase of coal oil, gas, and
bone factories along the Delaware
River. The obnoxious poisons and
gasses are all turned into the river,
killing the young fry; at least we
believe that  to be the main cause of
destruction of millions of young
shad. . . ."
  As early as the 18th century, dams
along the Susquehanna and  other rivers
blocked the  movement of shad
upstream to their spawning  grounds.
The Delaware remained mostly free of
such obstructions, and shad  made
spring runs as far north as Deposit,
New York, some 350 miles from the
mouth of the bay. But while the
Delaware fish had no concrete
impediments to their progress, they had
another that eventually proved just as

      "Perm's Voyage up
          the Delaware,"
     undated drawing by
     F. O. C. Darley. Penn
            sailed up the
        Delaware in 1682
            and saw his
        namesake colony
        for the first time.
impassable. The following is from the
1895 report quoted above;

   Regarding the pollution of the
   Delaware, the writer was told that
   the river below Philadelphia is so
   impregnated with coal oil that its
   peculiar flavor can be detected in
   the shad if they are detained long
   in the vicinity where the refuse
   from the coal oil  factories is
   emptied into the  water. Whether
   this is true or not, no one will
   deny that the discharge of waste
   into the river from the
   numerous refineries that are
   located only a short distance
   below Philadelphia fills the water
   with poisonous substances
   which would probably prevent
   shad from attempting the ascent
   of this stream except for the
   combined instincts of nativity and
   procreation—impulses so
   overmastering that nothing
   but death or impassible barriers
   will restrain them.

  In fact, this 19th century writer
underestimated the  pollution and its
cumulative effect. Within a few years of
Philadelphia's founding in the late 17th
century, the nearby  forests had been
denuded, the streams and shoreline
silting in; the Dock  Creek, into which
William Penn  first sailed, had become
fouled with garbage and the waste of
shoreside tanneries. By 1750 the creek
had to be filled in and paved over.
  Trenton, Philadelphia, Camden, and
Wilmington waterfronts all suffered
from the concentration of iron
foundries and  tanneries. From the
founding of the first mills below the
falls of  the Delaware at Trenton,
industry crowded along the waterfront
for the next 50 miles.  With the
discovery of oil in Pennsylvania in the
1850s, refineries were established along
the river at Philadelphia and
Wilmington, Shipyards, coalyards, and
factories lined both  banks of the
Delaware. The populations of the cities
grew, and so did the amounts  of human
        Courtesy of Jhe Historical Society of Delaware
and animal waste flowing out of the
sewers into the river and bay.
(Currently the population around the
estuary, which covers a relatively small
area, is some 6 million.)
  The waters between Wilmington  and
Trenton had been the major spawning
grounds for the shad. Unable to deal
with the pollution, both state and
federal fish commissions attempted to
spawn and raise shad for release into
the river. These efforts were fruitless,
however. The catch—up to 15 million
pounds for the bay and tidal rivers in
1896—dropped to 5 million pounds in
1904. In 1921, the catch was barely a
quarter of a million pounds and
remained at that level as the
commercial fisheries became losing
propositions, declined, and nearly  died
  The waters had become deadly. By
the 1940s, some 500 million gallons of
raw sewage and untreated  industrial
waste were being dumped  into the
Delaware. Bacteria in the river, fed  by
the nutrients, used up the oxygen. Shad
and herring attempting spring runs
upriver were found dead by the
thousands along the river shores of
Philadelphia and Camden.
  The severity of the problem made it
impossible to ignore. The smell of
hydrogen sulfide gas felled dock
workers. Wastes clogged ships' cooling
systems. The waters, slick with greases
and oils, corroded the metal of ships.
(Navy fliers landing in Philadelphia
were  reportedly told not to worry about
the smell at 5,000 feet: It was wafting
up  from the river below.)
  In 1946, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife
Service found 20 miles of the upper
estuary to be anoxic (oxygen-deficient)
from the surface to the bottom.
Philadelphia, which took half of its
drinking water from the Delaware, had
already begun  treating the water  but
was still concerned over its further
  The fish could not wait. The lack of
dissolved oxygen in the stretch of river
between  Wilmington and Philadelphia
literally choked  the adult fish returning
to spawn in the  spring. Those that
made it through what became known as
the  "pollution  block" to spawn in the
cleaner upriver waters more often than
not died on their return. And the young
of the year, struggling downstream in
the  late summer to head to sea for the
first time, often didn't make it.
  In the early years of the century, New
York  City had announced a plan to
dam the upper reaches of the Delaware
and create a water supply system for
the  growing city. Concern rose in all
                                                  Philadelphia Wafer Department photo.

 In recent decades, wastewater treatment has been vastly improved
 along the Delaware. This is the Northeast Water Pollution Control
 Plant serving the Philadelphia area.
                                                                                                         EPA JOURNAL

A success story in the making. Fishing guide Edward M. Marks is happy that
shad catches in the Delaware River are increasing every year.
three downstream states about the
effects of such water withdrawals on
the river. New York, New jersey, and
Pennsylvania had already tried to work
together on water supply problems
through a Delaware River Treaty
Commission, created in 1923. This
commission developed a Delaware
River compact to govern water use.  The
compact was rejected, but following
New York's announcement, the  states
still insisted that no single state could
control the flow of the river.
  The case over New York's dams went
to the Supreme Court. The court
allowed the withdrawals but agreed
there must be sufficient water to share
  By 1936, only five years after  the
Supreme Court  decision, the states of
New Jersey, New York, and
Pennsylvania had formed Commissions
of Interstate Cooperation. And out of
the states' awareness of the  need to
work together on both the use and the
problems of the Delaware (if only out of
concern for their own piece of the
river], they created the Interstate
Commission on the Delaware River
Basin (INCODEL). This was  in the
midst of the Depression; although
money might be available for dams, the
states, anxious about their autonomy,
were concerned about the federal
government coming in to build them. A
cleanup, however, was one thing the
states could agree on, and they
proceeded to plan ways to reduce the
load of waste entering their  Delaware
  They began by developing and
adopting interstate water- quality
standards which demanded  at least
primary, and in some cases  secondary,
treatment of sewage discharge into the
river and estuary. This would be a
major effort since the sewers of
Philadelphia and other towns and cities
around the estuary had grown along
with the population, with little design
except to get the discharge out to the
nearest stream. Nonetheless,
INCODEL— which had no legal
power—got each state to push through
legislation on water pollution and begin
building sewage treatment plants.
  World War II interrupted these
efforts. However, research done by
Richard Albert, who is on the
water-quality staff of the present
Delaware River Basin Commission,
shows that by the end of the  1950s, 75
percent  of the Delaware Basin
communities  had what was considered
adequate sewage treatment, as opposed
to only 20 percent before  INCODEL's
founding. INCODEL also took on the
cleanup of some  30 million tons of coal
silt that had run  downstream from the
coal regions in the Pennsylvania
mountains and lay in the  river
  INCODEL, according to Albert, also
promoted studies which found  that the
freshwater aquifer from which Camden
and southern New Jersey  communities
drew their water was recharged by the
water of the Delaware estuary—another
reason why the quality of the waters
had to be protected.
  All  these early efforts had some
effect. The water quality—especially as
measured by oxygen content—had
nowhere to go but up, and dissolved
oxygen began to improve  measurably.
  After the summer flood of 1955,
inquiries into water use and flood
prevention on the Delaware heightened
concern about water quality.  A U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers  study gave
rise to a Delaware Estuary
Comprehensive Study, which
developed a model for raising water
quality standards. Based on
recommendations from the Engineers
Corps study, INCODEL was replaced by
the Delaware  River Basin  Commission
(DRBC)  in 1961. The DRBC came into
being  under a Delaware River Basin
Compact entered into by the states and
the federal government. Each of these
had a  representative with  equal power
on the commission; in this way, a more
secure legislative mandate was formed
to regulate not only the pollution that
went into the river and estuary, but
also to control water diversion.
  With its legislative mandate, the
DRBC could ask for and get compliance
with the more exacting standards.
Higher standards were set to keep the
water quality from getting worse and to
begin improving it. DRBC standards
soon became state standards, and the
state standards were accepted by  the
Federal Water Pollution Control
Administration, a forerunner of EPA.
  The 1972 passage of the Federal
Water Pollution Control Act
amendments enhanced the DRBC
cleanup already under way by adding
both federal enforcement  and funding
for construction of new treatment
plants. As a result, the depletion of
oxygen in the water was cut in half
between  1958 and 1983. This reduced
the  area and length of time that
pollution blocked the shad. Even  if the
fish couldn't spawn in their old
grounds, they might make it upstream
to others.
  And the number and kinds of fish in
the  upper estuary increased. This year
the DRBC recommended  further efforts
to increase the level of dissolved
oxygen in the river areas  where fish
still cannot spawn. The change ought to
bring more shad, striped  bass, and
herring to areas of the upper estuary
where a  1973 EPA study  said there
would be no chance for recovery, as
Albert points out.
  The Delaware still has  problems,
 however. Basin states are concerned
 about toxic wastes in the river—more
 than 100 chemical manufacturing
 plants and oil refineries line the  banks
 of the bay—and the threats, posed by
 development, to the remaining natural
 habitats  along the bay and its
 tributaries. The problems these cause
 are not nearly as vivid and immediate
 as those of sewage waste, and so they
 are too often set aside.
  It took a half century to comprehend
 and begin to cope with the problems of
 human waste in the river and sonic
 $1.5 billion to increase the dissolved
 oxygen level in the Delaware at
 Philadelphia by barely 2  milligrams per
 liter. In the meantime, some species
 were nearly lost along with most of the
 fisheries. The remaining  shad
 fishermen on the bay report their
 catches increasing each year. The hope
 is that with a continued cooperative
 working method—including  the EPA's
estuarine research program—the next
 improvements won't be quite so long in
coming,  n

Long  Island  Sound:
Facing Tough  Choices
by J. R. Schubel
   Long Island Sound is unusual not
   only in its natural features but also
in the range and intensity of uses
society makes of it. For these reasons,
the sound deserves special attention. If
management strategies are to be
effective, they must be carefully
tailored  to the special features of the
  Long Island Sound lies in the most
densely  populated region of the United
States, a distinction the region has held
since before European settlement. The
greatest  population growth occurred
between 1940 and 1970, when the
population of the region grew by a
whopping 78 percent. Since 1970, the
rate of growth has been less than
one-tenth the national average and is
projected to remain low for the next
several decades; for the next two
decades (1990-2010), it is projected to
average less than 0.3 percent per year.
Nevertheless, the region will remain the
most densely populated in the nation,
exceeding the national average by
nearly 40-fold.
  Today, more than 14.6 million people
live in counties directly bordering Long
Island Sound. Besides being home to
millions of people, the sound provides
opportunities for shipping and
transportation, for recreation, and for
waste disposal for more people than
any other estuary in the nation.
  Long Island Sound has two
connections to the ocean—one at each
end.  (Most estuaries have only one.}
The major source of fresh water, the
Connecticut River, enters near the
mouth. In most estuaries, the major
source of fresh water enters at the head.
  At its  "head," the sound has the East
River, not really a river at all, but a
tidal strait connecting the sound to the
(Dr. Schubel is Dean and Director of
(he Marine Sciences Research Center at
the State l/niversily of New York at
Stony Brook. He co-chairs the
Technical Advisory Committee for the
Long Island Sound  Study being
conducted under the National Estuary
Program and also serves on the
Management Committee.]
New York-New Jersey Harbor. Although
the net flow through the East River is
small—only a few hundred cubic:
meters per second—the East River has
major influences on the sound. Flow
through the East River is divided into
two layers: an upper layer and a lower
layer. The direction of the long-term
net flow through the entire cross
section of the East River is toward New
York Harbor, but the direction of net
flow of the upper layer is toward the
sound. Most of  the wastewater
introduced into the  East River becomes
concentrated in the  upper layer because
it is fresher and less dense than the
receiving waters. Because of this, the
East River carries large amounts of
wastes into the  sound. It also drives the
estuarine circulation in the western
sound which is superimposed on the
oscillatory tidal currents, leading to a
slow net flow of the upper layer to the
east (toward Block Island Sound) and
of the lower layer to the west (toward
the East River).
  The estuarine circulation converts the
entire sound into a trap for suspended
particles and associated contaminants.
The trap is particularly effective in the
sluggish reaches of the western sound,
where suspended particles are retained
and sink into the lower layer. In
addition, fine suspended matter from
throughout the sound that sinks into
the lower layer is carried to  the west,
where it accumulates.
  At the head of the sound—the
western end—is the largest city in the
United States, one of the largest in the
world: a city with more than 400
combined sewer outfalls which
discharge raw sewage and untreated
stormwater runoff with every rainfall
that exceeds a few tenths of an inch
over a few hours. But New York City is
not the only source of pollutants to
Long Island Sound. Much pollution
comes from point and nonpoint sources
along the sound's coast and  throughout
its drainage basin. In  fact, the impacts
of New York City on the sound may be
                                                                                                 EPA JOURNAL

declining while impacts from the east
are increasing.
  Most of Long Island Sound's
important water-quality parameters
(nutrients, pathogens, and toxics) show
steep gradients along the axis of  the
sound, falling rapidly from high  levels
in the East River and western sound to
relatively low values in the open waters
of the central and eastern sound. These
gradients in  water quality reflect the
large inputs  of wastes from the
metropolitan area as well as the natural
estuarine circulation. Many of the
tributary embayments throughout the
sound system have been impacted by
loadings of nutrients, pathogens, and
contaminants and deserve special
attention. Most of the problems of the
central and eastern sound are in  the
  The combination of natural and
human factors (the natural circulation
and the large inputs of waste materials)
conspires to produce high
concentrations of organic-rich,
contaminant-laden particles in the
waters and on the bottom of the
western sound. The sediments of the
western sound are highly reactive
chemically and exert considerable
influence on the quality of the
overlying waters. Summertime hypoxia
(low dissolved oxygen) is one
consequence of the high concentrations
of nutrients  and  organic matter.
  The phenomenon is not new. Even
before European settlers arrived,
summertime levels of dissolved oxygen
in the waters of the western sound
often were low—low relative to the rest
of the sound and sometimes perhaps
even low relative to present New York
State water-quality standards. To this
natural situation, add excess nutrients
from waste disposal and land-use
practices from a  large fraction of the
14.6  million people who live in the
counties bordering the sound, and you

 Long Island Sound, famed for
 recreational boating.
have an estuary that typically
experiences hypoxia in summer.
  The problem is concentrated in the
western third of the sound, but the
concern is that oxygen deficiency may
occur earlier in the summer, last longer,
and stretch over a larger region of the
sound than in the past. While the
scientific  documentation of these trends
is sketchy, there is reason for concern.
The summers of 1987 and 1989 were
particularly bad, and the change  from
an oxygenated system to an anoxic,
sulphide system can occur quickly,
with little warning, causing
catastrophic effects. Once it happens,
remediation is costly and uncertain.
Prevention is a far better  strategy.
  Roughly 50 percent of the total
nitrogen input to  the sound comes  from
point sources—mostly treatment
plants—and the remaining 50 percent
from nonpoint sources. Point sources
are  easier  to identify and  to quantify.
They also  are easier to  control
technologically; all it takes is
money—Tots of it. The cost estimates
for removing nitrogen at about 20
coastal publicly owned treatment plants
in the western sound range from  $6 to
10 billion  in one-time capital costs and
from $50 to 100 million per year in
additional operating costs.
  While it's clear that the inputs  of
nutrients to the sound need to be
reduced, the best  way to accomplish
this  goal is less clear. In selecting the
most appropriate strategy, a variety of
environmental, technological,
institutional, demographic, and
economic  factors need to  be considered.
Cost is a factor. The public made a
clear and unequivocal statement about
balancing  environmental protection and
economics in the  last election
(November 6, 1990).
  Given the prospects for the nation's,
and  particularly for the region's,
economy over the next few years,
short-term economic considerations
will  be even more  important than in
the  past. This will pose an even greater
challenge to decisionmakers, scientists
and engineers, and public interest
groups to work together to select the
strategies that will have the greatest
environmental benefits, particularly
long-term benefits, at the lowest cost.
  While  New York City's population is
not growing, the population  of the
counties  bordering the  sound is
increasing slowly. The  net result of
these demographic shifts is that the
inputs of nutrients from
sewage-treatment plants in New York
City are stable or declining, while point
and nonpoint inputs from the east are
increasing. Continued upgrading of
New York City's sewage-treatment
plants to full secondary status is
contributing to these declines. So is
implementation of the combined sewer
overflow abatement program.
  Meanwhile, the inputs of nutrients
from sewage-treatment  plants outside
the city—from Westchester County,
Long Island, and coastal
Connecticut—and from nonpoint
sources in these areas are increasing.
The impacts are experienced largely in
embayments which receive the bulk of
the inputs.
  The direct loadings of contaminants,
such as metals and chlorinated organic
compounds, are decreasing throughout
the region because of industrial
pre-treatment programs and the flight of
industry  from the area.  Because of these
trends, I  believe the first step should be
to cap nutrient inputs from Connecticut
and Long Island treatment plants. The
next steps should be to reduce the
aggregate nutrient inputs from these
plants, from New York  City plants, and
from nonpoint sources. Public
education must play  a major role in
nonpoint-source reduction by
communicating how  individual
activities—the use of fertilizers,
pesticides, and thoughtless discarding
of wastes—conspire to degrade the
sound. People can make a difference.
  Long Island Sound is a magnet for
recreational use, and the strength of
that attraction remains strong, making it
one of the most valuable estuaries in
the world. The major recreational
activities of the sound are boating,
swimming, and fishing. The sound  is
home to one of the largest fleets of
recreational boats of any coastal body
in the world. On a summer weekend
day, the number of sunbathers,
swimmers, and boaters  around the
sound often is greater than the
combined populations of Delaware  and

               Island Sound awaits development.
Alaska. The value of the sound's
recreational fisheries exceeds those of
the Chesapeake Hay.
  The major impediments to these
recreational activities are:

• Pathogens, which lead to the closing
of beaches and shellfishing areas

• Floatables, which are repulsive to
swimmers, beachcombers, and boaters,
and sometimes lead to  the closing of

• Nutrients, which lead to hypoxia and
associated loss of habitat and of living
marine resources

• Contaminants, which lead to
restrictions or warnings on the
consumption of fish and which may
lead to declines of living resources.
Access, of course, is also a limiting

  But there is also a perceptual
problem concerning the sound. Several
years ago, we asked a Third Grade class
to draw posters to illustrate their views
of the condition of the  Long Island
Sound. Most  expressed gloom and
doom: "The Sound is dead" or "dying";
"no fish live there anymore." The
reality  is quite different.
  Certainly the large population
surrounding the sound makes intensive,
varied, and sometimes  conflicting uses
of the sound—uses that have affected
the system and its living resources.
Moreover, land-use practices
throughout the drainage basin affect the
quality of the sound and its living
resources. Although there  are problems
that require attention, much of the
main body of the sound is in
remarkably good condition. The most
serious problems are localized in the
western sound and in the  embayments.
  Only recently has the sound begun to
receive the kind  of attention it deserves
from scientists, environmental
advocates, environmental  managers,
and elected officials. In our efforts to
gain the attention of the public about
environmental problems, often we have
resorted to the "two-by-four" strategy ;
that works so well with mules, and
humans. The strategy gets attention, but
it may have  created some unfortunate
consequences, particularly among
young people. There is a sense of
despair, of helplessness; a sense of a
lack of empowerment.
  We need a different approach, a
different strategy to conserve and when
necessary—as in the case of Long
Island Sound—to rehabilitate our
estuaries. With 6 percent of the nation's
population living in the counties that
border it, Long Island  Sound cannot be
restored to the natural, pristine
conditions that European settlers found
upon  arriving more than 300 years ago,
any more than Connecticut, Long
Island, and Manhattan can be restored
to their conditions at that time. Perhaps
society's expectations  for estuaries like
Long  Island  Sound, New York-New
Jersey Harbor, Boston  Harbor, and
others in heavily urbanized and
suburbanized areas should be different
from those for estuaries in much  less
populous regions. Not lower—different.
  Our environmental goals for  the
sound should be ambitious, visionary,
and long-term. They should be framed
in terms of the uses and values that are
important  to and cherished by  society;
they should  be expressed in terms that
have meaning to the public.
Environmental goals should reflect not
only the desires of present society, but
our responsibility to future generations.
In addition,  water-quality standards
should have defensible scientific and
technical bases to ensure that they are
consistent with natural environmental
processes. For example, proposing a
goal for dissolved oxygen in the
western sound that is  higher than the
levels Giovanni Verrazano or Adrian
Block found  upon their arrival more
than 300 years ago is not visionary; it is
  In addition to ambitious, visionary
goals, more specific objectives should
be spelled out.  Progress in meeting
those objectives should be monitored
and the results  reported widely.
Specific water-quality objectives should
be consistent with evolving technology,
and the strategies adopted should be
flexible enough to exploit advances  in
understanding and technology. Indeed,
environmental objectives and goals
should encourage development of new
  When expenditures of billions of
dollars are  called for, they should be
invested in those management actions
that will have the greatest benefit to the
environment and to society, now and
for the future. There  should be
accountability as to how well the
investments pay off in conserving, or
restoring, resources that are valued by
the public.  Protection of these human
values and  uses will  ensure the
integrity of the  ecosystem.
  The management of Long Island
Sound illustrates some important
environmental management principles.
The first priority should be preventive
environmental medicine: conservation
of those parts of the  environment
which are in good condition and which
directly and indirectly support
important uses. We must not  focus our
attention so closely on the problems of
the western sound that we neglect to
provide adequate protection of the
values and uses sustained by  the
central and eastern Sound.
  Because of the estuarine circulation
pattern, water quality in the western
sound reflects contaminant inputs from
throughout the  whole system: This is
important to keep in mind. It means
that better management of contaminant
inputs'from Long Island and
Connecticut will not only protect the
central and eastern sound but also
contribute to better environmental
quality in the western sound.
  If our efforts  are concentrated on
New York City, only marginal
improvements may result in the
western sound  while the remainder  of
the system—including the tributary
embayments—may experience
increasing  impacts. A gain in the
average quality of the sound as a whole
that is achieved by gains in the west
offsetting losses in the central and
eastern sound may, in fact, not be a
gain either for society or for the Long
Island Sound ecosystem.
  As the late H.L. Mencken once
observed, "Every human situation has a
simple  solution—neat, plausible, and
wrong." If  we want to create  a better
future for Long Island Sound, we can't
afford to be wrong, n
                                                                                                        EPA JOURNAL

              Rnancing  the  Cleanup
              of  Puget Sound
              by Annette Frahm
              (Frahm is Publications Manager for the
              Puget Sound Water Quality Authority.]
   Protecting the water quality in Puget
   Sound is a Mom-and-apple-pie
issue. According to a recent survey,
more than half of Washington state
residents thought water pollution in the
estuary was a serious problem, and
two-thirds were willing to pay an extra
dollar per month per household to
clean it up.
  The difficulty comes when one starts
trying to make those abstract dollars a
funding reality. Government at all
levels—federal, state, local—has gotten
the message that people don't like
taxes. Moreover, Puget Sound doesn't
show as many signs of pollution as
some other estuaries in areas that have
been developed longer, so the need for
clean-up funds doesn't seem as
pressing  as it  might elsewhere.
  In fact, Puget Sound, located in the
northwestern  corner of Washington
state, seems rather pristine on the
surface. The sound's deep, cold depths
help keep the water clear. Daily tides
move the pollution out toward the
Pacific Ocean.
  But when scientists looked deeper
into the sound, they found a series of
sills (shallow areas) that stop most of
the water—and the pollution it
carries—from reaching the ocean.
Instead, most of the pollutants sink to
the bottom of the sound and stay there.
This leads to toxic "hot spots" along
the bottom of the sound's urban
bays—and liver tumors and
reproductive failures in the
bottom-dwelling fis! there.
  There are other problems. Nine
commercial shellfish beds were closed
between  1986 and 1990 because of
bacterial pollution from failing septic
systems and farm animals—a problem
made worse by increasing rural
development. The region's overall rapid
pace of development (population is
projected to increase by 40 percent by
the year 2010) also results in a
continuing loss of wetlands and other
fish and  wildlife habitat.
  In 1985 the Washington State
Legislature, seeking a solution to these

                                                                                                       Chns Ayres photo.
problems, created the Puget Sound
Water Quality Authority to develop a
comprehensive plan to protect and
improve the water quality in Puget
Sound. In developing the plan, the
Authority studied a number of
pollution problems, what was being
done to address them, and  what could
be done to improve the efforts.  One
difficulty the Authority found was a
chronic lack of money for state and
local governments to address water
quality problems.
  The 1986 state legislature took steps
to address the funding problem by
increasing the tax on cigarettes and
other tobacco products. The
8-cents-per-pack tax provides about $45
million a year statewide to support
local water quality projects in the form
of grants. The state pays 50 percent of
the cost for water quality facilities,
such as sewage treatment plants, and
75 percent of the cost for activities such
as planning and education. The
cigarette tax has proven to be an
important, though limited, source  of
funding for local water quality projects.
  Sometimes great results can come
from relatively small sums of money.
                                                                                                     EPA JOURNAL

Puget Sound wetlands provide key
habitat for birds and other wildlife.
Washington state and private non-profit
groups are allied in efforts to acquire
and protect wetlands.
Over the last four years, the Puget
Sound Authority has received $2
million from the cigarette tax for its
Public Involvement and Education (PIE)
Fund. The PIE-Fund has financed 100
projects reaching a variety of audiences,
from builders to farmers, school
children to community residents. Over
a million people have already been
reached in some way, and many
projects have found other funding to
continue. Over  time, these outreach
ventures should greatly  reduce water
  While the cigarette tax is a good start,
unfortunately, it isn't nearly enough. It
will cost about  $600 million to upgrade
the remaining primary sewage
treatment plants to secondary
treatment. Reducing pollution from
stormwater may cost $50 to $160
million per year. Ongoing efforts to
reduce nonpoint-source  pollution are
expected to cost $12 million per year.
Monitoring,  wetlands protection,
reducing pollution to "hot spots" and
eventually cleaning them up, spill
prevention, education: All these are
pressing needs.  And the state general
fund is spread thin by other needs,
such as education, social and health
services, and transportation.
  In its initial plan, adopted in 1986,
the Authority proposed  another source
of funds: a higher fee for water quality
discharge permits. The funds would be
used to improve the state Department
of Ecology's regulation of discharge
  After much controversy and debate,
in 1987 the state legislature did
approve a higher discharge  permit fee,
but imposed a $3.6 million  per year cap
statewide. The following year, however,
state voters approved a toxics initiative
which removed the cap and called for
the Department of Ecology to set the fee
high enough to fully fund its discharge
permit program. The initiative also
established a tax on hazardous
products: the tax money goes toward
cleaning up toxic "hot spots" and for
education on the proper disposal of
household hazardous wastes.
  The Department of Ecology is
currently collecting $3.6 million per
year from the permit fee and intends to
raise the fee over time. The increased
funding has enabled the department to
hire new staff for its discharge-permit
Sometimes great results can
come from relatively small
sums of money.
program and to begin writing new
permits that include limits on the
discharge of toxicants. Over time, these
stricter permits are expected to reduce
a chronic source of pollution  to Puget
  Local governments have also been
seeking and finding new sources of
funds. Several cities and counties have
created self-supporting stormwater
utilities to provide funding both for
"hardware"—such as detention ponds
and infiltration basins—and for
education programs to reduce
stormwater pollution at  the source.
Most stormwater utilities are funded
through monthly rates, often based  on
the contribution of the business or
household to pollution (such  as the
amount of pavement on  the property).
Some counties have also taken initial
steps to create septic system inspection
and maintenance districts.
  Private efforts on behalf of Puget
Sound have  also had some success,
most notably in the acquisition of key
wetlands and other habitats. A
95-group coalition succeeded  in
obtaining $53 million from the
legislature in 1990 for acquisition of
wildlife and recreation lands statewide,
together with a promise of more
funding over time. Between 1987 and
1989 a joint state-nonprofit campaign
raised $5.3  million for wetlands
acquisition, using a 3-1 state match.
  Some federal funding has been
available for Puget Sound through
Sections 319 and 320 of the Clean
Water Act.  The Washington State
Congressional delegation is also seeking
a line-item  appropriation for increased
funding for the Puget Sound Estuary
  The newly created Puget Sound
Foundation should also help fund
research and education over time. In its
1990 session, the state legislature
authorized  the Authority to create the
foundation as a public nonprofit
corporation, with a charter to support
education and research. The foundation
will seek funding from corporations
and other private donors and will
provide grants on a competitive basis.
  All of these funding endeavors still
fall short. Recognizing that chronic
funding shortages would continue, in
1988 the Authority created the Puget
Sound Finance Committee to look for
new funding sources. EPA funded a
study to support the committee's work,
along with  a guidebook for local
governments on financing options. The
committee  considered a wide range of
possible funding sources, from a  real
estate excise tax to a toilet-paper tax.
  In its final report, the committee
proposed four new sources: a tax on
commercial marine fuels (currently
exempt from state tax), a fee charged to
motor vehicle manufacturers for each
new car or  truck registered in the state,
increases to the fish and shellfish tax,
and an excise tax on the leasing of
public lands. The Authority is
including the marine fuels tax and the
motor vehicle manufacturers' fee in its
1991 legislative proposals. Their  fate in
the legislature is uncertain.
  As the search for additional funding

sources continues, changing
circumstances make the need more
urgent. Among the nation's great water
bodies, Puget Sound is by no means
alone in facing problems exacerbated
by rapid growth.
  While we're working to clean up
existing pollution in our aquatic
resources, and to put standards and
plans in place to prevent future
pollution, the gains we make can be
countervailed by another subdivision or
industrial park. Like Alice and the Red
Queen, we may be running as fast as
we can just to stay in the same place.
Where can we find the money to keep
up with pollution, let alone gain on it?
  At a recent national estuary program
conference in Seattle, participants
agreed that creative funding approaches
are essential. Among the ideas
presented: a $100 million Great Lakes
Protection Fund, financed by an
endowment from the eight Great Lakes
states; a surcharge in Rhode Island on
items that are "hard to dispose of,"
such as tires and organic solvents; and
a program to provide subsidized loans
to communities in Massachusetts.for
water quality projects, using a
combination of federal and state funds.
  In Puget Sound, we have sought to
ease the strain on the state general fund
The  Soundkeeper
               by Mary Ann Gwinn
A     local kayaker has a joke about the
     ungainly, squawking herons who
 live on the Duwamish River—that they
 were graceful loons before they drank
 from the Duwamish. But the birds have
 gumption—they make a living,
 heron-style, on a river whose banks
 have been covered over with dredge
 spoils  and whose sediments contain
 some of the most toxic junk ever
 spewed into a stream.
  On this day, the herons are raising
 hell about a man in a red kayak. They
 are croaking and lifting their great
 wings  in offended dignity as he passes
 under  their  perches. The man is
 skimming the edge of the river, in and
 out of  the rusted hulls of ships, under
 the cool cave of a concrete dock. He is
 taking an excessive interest in the little
 pipes that dribble this and that out of
 industrial property and into the river.
  These herons should raise a greeting,
 not a ruckus. This man is the
  Ken Moser is the red-haired gent in
 the red kayak and the point man for a
 tough  new program designed to protect
 Puget  Sound. Moser, 38, a former
 advertising man, merchant seaman and
 skipper for yachts of the rich and
 famous, was hired by the Puget Sound
 Alliance to find polluters of Puget
  He is the symbol of a new
 watchfulness on the part of local
 environmental groups, an
 acknowledgement that the sweep of
 environmental legislation enacted in
 the last two decades is a mile wide and
 an inch deep. It's illegal to pollute. But
 people do it every day, either because
 they don't know or they don't get
 caught, and because society hires cops
 to keep people from hurting each other,
 not other species.
 (Gwinn is a Seattle Times reporter.}
  Moser's aim is to educate polluters,
and if that doesn't work, to catch them,
and if that doesn't work, to sue them.
  He's being trained in sampling and
chain-of-evidence procedures. He has a
toll-free number people can call when
they see pollution of Puget Sound.  He
plans to train a citizen army—a group
'of fisherman, kayakers, birdwatchers
and anyone else who knows the nooks
and crannies of Puget Sound—to call to
account degradation of the Sound,
which Moser calls "the heart  of the
  "People who have lived here any
length of time know the Sound,
whether it's South Sound or Useless
Bay or Admiralty Inlet," he says. "Now
they know they can call and say,
There's something going on here.'"
  And people have called. Since the
program began in July, the Alliance's
membership has swelled from 200  to
600, the result, says the Alliance's
Kathy Callison, "of people wanting to
do something for the Sound."
  "We believe in education." Moser
says with a small smile, "but we have
discovered that litigation can be an
effective tool for educating people."
  The Soundkeeper's number is
  The Soundkeeper program  is
modeled on similar programs
throughout the country, including  those
at Long Island Sound, San Francisco
Bay and  the Hudson River.
  The Hudson Riverkeeper is the
grandfather of all such programs and
owes its continuing existence to one of
the most cunning pieces of
environmental piracy ever discovered.
   The first Keeper program was
founded by Pete Seeger, the folk singer,
to watchdog the cleanup of the Hudson.
Seeger's  group had hired John Cronin,
the first Riverkeeper, who was on the
job when he got a tip about some very
 peculiar activities taking place on
Exxon Corporation tankers in the
  It seems Exxon was unloading its oil,
filling its ballast tanks with water,
flushing the oil residue into the
Hudson and then refilling them with
clear Hudson River water. This water
went to the Dutch island of Aruba, off
the Venezuelan coast, where it was
used in an Exxon refinery and the
balance given to the president of Aruba
for his water supply. Some  of it even
filled his swimming pool.
  The Hudson River Fisherman's
Association threatened to sue. Exxon
settled out of court for $500,000, a
chunk of which has funded the
Riverkeeper program ever since.
  The Soundkeeper program was
started with seed money from
Starbuck's Coffee, KING-TV and the
Puget Sound Water Quality Authority.
The Puget Sound Alliance,  an umbrella
organization of environmental groups
concerned with the health of the
Sound, placed an ad in The Weekly.
Moser, who had recently quit a
high-paying job in the San Francisco
advertising industry to return to Seattle,
answered it.
  Moser's biggest accomplishment in
the ad industry had been to write  a
reggae-inspired jingle extolling Clorox
bleach, a substance harmful to the
environment when  it gets flushed  down
the drain. It still makes him gloomy to
think about it.
  "The strategy was, you never thought
about Clorox," he recalls. "You never
thought about  dirty clothes. You thought
about bright, clean, happy children.
What we're talking  about is habits
people have. They think it goes away.
Where do they think it goes?"
  He was hired both for his marine
skills—he's licensed to skipper vessels
under 100 tons—and for his ability to
mount a  public-relations campaign.
Moser knows there's no way for him to
                                                               EPA JOURNAL

by developing new and innovative
funding sources. But the way is hard,
and the outcome doubtful. Each crisis
brings a flurry of activity and
support—which soon dies down until
the next crisis.
  It's hard to gain stable, long-term
support in such an environment.
Education is one key: As residents and
businesses learn more about their
contributions to pollution, they often
become more willing to contribute to
the solutions.
  Showing results is also important.
Short-term successes can help gain
support for long-term funding. We have
to become more efficient  and effective
in how we spend our money. And we
must continue to be creative: finding
new sources of funds and smart ways
to get optimum results  from  the money
we  have available,  a
Tom Reese photo- Seattle Times

police 2,000 miles of the shores of
Puget Sound  alone. The Alliance hopes
to train a sort of "environmental navy"
to spot pollution all over the Sound.
Lee Moyer, a local kayaker who
accompanied Moser on his Duwamish
tour, is evidence it works.
  Moyer, who owns Pacific Water
Sports, a kayak sales and rental
business, was on the Duwamish one
day about five years ago. He spotted a
milky  pond spreading out from a
half-concealed outfall.
  Moyer called the Department of
Ecology and the EPA. His tip ultimately
ended the dumping of highly alkaline
cement waste into the Duwamish. The
company, Pioneer Construction
Materials, was fined $150,000. It
has since been sold.
  Soundkeeper Moser says his goal is
to help citizens with a complaint
penetrate the "alphabet soup" of
agencies concerned with the
 environment. His first step might be to
 contact the polluter and ask them to
 stop. The next step might be to call the
 regulators. If the regulators can't or
 won't pursue the case,  the Soundkeeper
  His ultimate goal is to back up his
 work with an environmental law clinic,
 similar to one at New York's Pace
 University headed by Robert Kennedy
 Jr. The clinic has successfully  litigated
 numerous pollution cases along the
  The  Soundkeeper needs a boat; he
 currently hitches rides  with allies such
 as Moyer. He's also getting training
 from local and federal agencies,
 including Metro and  the National
 Oceanic and Atmospheric
 Administration. "I found out that all
 the agencies are made up of people,"  he
 says, "people who want to see  the
 environment kept clean and who are
 frustrated at the lack of funding." o
                                        Patrolling in his red kayak, Soundkeeper
                                        Ken Moser hunts for polluters.
(Story repnnted wirri permission, rhe Seattle Times


An  Environmental  Snapshot
of  the  Mississippi
 by Reggie McLeod

 (McLeod is a free-lance journalist who
 has written frequently about the
      Without the visitors, the beginning
      of the Mississippi River in
northern Minnesota would be rather
inauspicious—just a shallow,
rocky stream spilling from a
pine-ringed lake like  10,000 others.
However, a steady stream of pilgrims
comes here from all parts of the world
to wade in the numbingly cold water
or, at the very least, to crouch on the
shore and rinse their  hands in it, as
though to seek a blessing from this
great river.
  As is the Ganges to India, the Nile to
Egypt, and the Amazon to Brazil, so the
Mississippi is to America: It offers us a
reflection of ourselves—our strengths
and weaknesses, our  history and
culture. We respect its power and
unpredictability, but  we want too much
from it: a sewer and a source of
drinking water, a highway and a
playground, a  prime piece of real estate
and a refuge for wildlife.
  At Lake  Itasca things  look pretty
good. The  water is clear, the air is
heavy with the scent  of pines, song
birds welcome the morning, and loons
summon the night. In spots, the modest
Mississippi is  too shallow to float a
canoe.  It enters and exits several big
lakes—Bemidji, Cass, and
Winnibigoshish. After travelling north,
east, and southwest, the river begins its
more-or-less southward course near
Brainerd, describing a big question
mark in the center of Minnesota.
  As the river gathers the waters of
other rivers and creeks, growing deeper
and broader, signs of civilization along
its banks become more  frequent. Yet, it
often flows for miles  out of sight of any
roads or homes.
  The first dramatic change in the river
occurs near the Twin Cities. Bluffs
begin rising on both sides of it. The
Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam
marks the  start of the river's
commercial navigation  channel in
Minneapolis. A few miles downstream,
the Minnesota River joins the
Mississippi beneath the walls of Fort
Snelling, built at  this strategic spot in
1819 to protect fur traders from warring
Sioux and Chippewa Indians. About 20
miles downstream, near Hastings, the
St. Croix River adds to  the Mississippi's
strength as the river,  after winding a
quarter of  its length within Minnesota,
begins marking the border with
                                                                            In the 1980s the State of Wisconsin
                                                                          sued the Metropolitan Waste
                                                                          Commission to stop the flow of about
                                                                          4.6 billion gallons of raw sewage from
                                                                          the Twin Cities into the river from old
                                                                          storm sewers that overflow into
                                                                          sanitary sewers during heavy rains. The
                                                                          suit was dismissed, but Minnesota
                                                                          agreed to replace the remaining
                                                                          outdated sewers by 1995.
                                                                            Despite sharp reductions in the
                                                                          discharge of untreated sewage and
                                                                          other pollutants,  the Metropolitan
                                                                          Wastewater Treatment Plant's permit
                                                                          The dams may have created
                                                                          a problem for which there is
                                                                          no solution.
was delayed recently because it did not
monitor the release of phosphates into
the river. Experts fear that fish kills and
the disappearance of water plants
downstream may have been caused by
dense algae blooms nourished by high
concentrations of phosphates during
the lower flow in the drought of 1988.
  Carl Korschgen, wildlife specialist at
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife laboratory in
La Crosse,  Wisconsin, says the loss of
more than  90 percent of the wild celery
beds in the river appears to be hurting
populations of canvasback ducks who
depended on them for food  during
migration.  Other wildlife species are
probably also suffering from this
dramatic loss of water plants.
  The face and personality of the upper
Mississippi River changed in the late
1930s, when the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers began building 29 locks and
dams from Minneapolis to  St. Louis.
Their sole  purpose is to maintain a
nine-foot channel for barge traffic. The
dams, by creating a  series of long lakes
called pools, changed the profile of the
river from  a gradual slope to a series  of
steps. As a result, former bottom lands,
islands, and backwaters at the lower
ends of the pools are under several feet
of water, while islands and  maze-like
backwater channels are plentiful below
many dams.
  This stretch of the river is full of long
sandy islands covered with maples,
cottonwoods, wild grapes, and poison
ivy. The river valley is embraced by
                                                                                                  EPA JOURNAL

Minnesota's Lake Itasca forms the
headwaters of ths Mississippi River.
        Barges line the Mississippi south of
         St. Louis. More than 61,000 barges
          passed through this area in 1989.
                                          steep, wooded, rocky bluffs that
                                          sometimes rise more than 400 feet
                                          above the river. Many of the islands
                                          and much of the shore from Lake Pepin
                                          to Rock Island, Illinois, is owned by the
                                          Corps of Engineers or the Fish and
                                          Wildlife Service, which manages it  as a
                                          wildlife refuge. At some points, the
                                          river and bottoms are more than three
                                          miles wide and include a profusion of
                                          habitats: islands, marshes, lakes, and
                                          channels. In summer, an increasing
                                          number of boaters fish and camp on
                                          sandy beaches created with spoil
                                          dredged from the main channel. In fall
                                          and winter, trappers harvest muskrats,
                                          beavers, mink, and otters from the
                                          backwaters. When the ice thickens,
                                          barge traffic stops, and the best fishing
                                          spots are marked by clusters of
                                          ice-fishing shacks.
                                            The dams may have created a
                                          problem for which there is no solution.
                                          The resulting long pools are sediment
                                          traps that capture much of the soil and
                                          sand washed into the river and its
                                          tributaries from eroding farmland and
                                          stream banks. Barge traffic and
                                          dredging on the main channel stir up

                                          Wide World photo
river sediment. Backwater channels that
were 10 feet deep a few decades ago
have silted in. Backwater lakes have
turned into thick cattail beds.
  A few years ago, the  Army Corps of
Engineers started moving dredge spoils
out of the floodplain, rather than just
piling them up on  islands where they
washed back into the river. A number
of projects funded  by the Upper
Mississippi River Environmental
Management Plan are testing methods
to restore or stabilize islands and
backwaters by dredging, island
building, and other techniques.
  The Environmental Management Plan
also funds a project to collect and
organize an immense quantity of data
about the upper Mississippi River. A
computer at the Environmental
Management Technical Center, in  La
Crosse, Wisconsin, is being fed
information collected by dozens of
workers in five states. It combines and
compares that information with satellite
images and past studies to create a
dynamic image of the river. Engineers,
boaters, or scientists can play "what  if"
with the river, asking the computer to

speculate how a change might affect the
river over decades.
  The Illinois and Missouri rivers join
the Mississippi just upstream from St.
Louis, finally giving it enough water to
float barges year round. Locks limit the
size of a tow to 15 or 17 barges, but
below the last  lock, larger towboats can
push tows of 40 or more barges  up ancl
down the river. In 1989, towboats
pushed 61,200 barges loaded with 75
million tons of corn, soybeans, coal,
fuel oil, steel, and other cargo through
the last lock, at Granite City, Illinois,
across from St. Louis.
  A few miles downstream, in Cahokia,
Illinois, a group of huge mounds marks
the spot that probably served as the
center of an empire more than 700
years ago. At that time, a stockade
protected the center of a city where as
many as 40,000 of the people
archaeologists call the Mississippians
lived. Other cities of the Mississippian
culture have been studied near the river
as far north as Wisconsin and
downstream nearly to the Gulf of
Mexico. The Mississippians also built
stockaded cities along the Ohio  and
Missouri rivers and inland. They grew
large fields of corn, beans, and  squash
and traded over much of what is now
the central United States. Not a  lot is
known about them because they
abandoned or were forced from  their
cities shortly before Columbus sailed to
the West Indies.
  This section of the river roughly
follows a major earthquake fault
centered at New Madrid, in southern
Missouri. A powerful earthquake there
in 1811 devastated towns, temporarily
reversed the flow  of the Mississippi,
and created shock waves strong enough
to ring church bells in Washington, DC.
The old notion of a river
carrying  away a city's waste
is backwards; rivers bring it
  The river below St. Louis not only
carries a lot of barge traffic, it also
carries a heavy load of pollutants and
sediment.  The Missouri, Ohio, and
upper Mississippi rivers drain a good
share of the nation,  from the
Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky
Mountains. They carry the agricultural
chemicals washed by rains from
millions of acres of cropland. They
carry untreated sewage, toxic
chemicals, and parking-lot runoff from
Great Falls, Montana, from
Minneapolis, from Pittsburgh, and
dozens of  cities in between. The old
notion of a river carrying away a city's
waste is backwards; rivers bring it
together, and the inadequacies of much
of our nation's pollution control comes
together at St.  Louis.
                             USDA photo,

  The Greenpeace report We All Live
Downstream: The Mississippi River and
the National Toxics Crisis, published in
December 1989, claims that the St.
Louis metro area is second only to
Louisiana's "Chemical Corridor" in
adding toxic chemicals to the
Mississippi. "At least 10 major
petrochemical facilities and 7,500
smaller industries discharge wastewater
to the river, either directly or via the
sewer systems of St. Louis or  Sauget,
Illinois, across the river from  St.
Louis," according to the report.
  The report goes on at length about
the Chemical Corridor, where many
cities draw their drinking water from
the river  and cancer rates are  high.
Though the report has been criticized
for ignoring some facts, such as
higher-than-average cigarette
consumption per capita in Louisiana,
there is general agreement that more
than 100  major industries along the
150-mile  stretch between  Baton Rouge
and New Orleans contribute a huge
quantity of pollution to the river and
the rest of the environment. Greenpeace
quotes the EPA's Toxic Release
Inventory for 1987, stating that
industries in the eight parishes along
that 150-mile stretch release over 933
million pounds of toxic chemicals
(excluding sodium  sulfate) to the
environment each year, 196 million
pounds of which are discharged
directly into the Mississippi River.
  The Mississippi appears to be trying
to avoid the Chemical Corridor (who
                                                                EPA JOURNAL

         Mississippi tributary, with
  ,ipes despite low water.
Mississippi mud being dredged from the river near Memphis, Tennessee.
can blame it?) by taking a shortcut to
the Gulf of Mexico. About every
thousand years river sediment
lengthens its route to the sea until it
switches to a shorter route. It is now
due for a change.
  In the 1950s the Atchafalaya River
carried close to a third of the
Mississippi's water to the gulf by a
route that is steeper and  less than half
the distance. The Atchafalaya was
gaining steadily and seemed on the
verge of capturing most of the flow and
turning the channel that  had carried so
much commerce and prosperity to
Baton Rouge and New Orleans into a
sluggish bayou. In 1963,  at Old  River,
74 miles upriver from Baton Rouge, the
Army Corps of Engineers opened a new
lock and a structure to limit the flow of
water from the Mississippi into the
Atchafalaya. Though the  structure has
operated successfully for more than 17
years, some people insist that the river
will win its struggle with the Corps.
  At Baton Rouge, the Mississippi
becomes deep enough to  carry
ocean-going ships. The ports along this
stretch are busy exchanging cargos from
those ships and the barges from the
Mississippi and the east and west
branches of the Gulf Intercoastal
Waterway, and the products of the
petrochemical plants that line the river
  About 5,000 ships and 50,000 barges
move about 145 million tons of cargo a
year over New Orleans' docks. Lake
Ponchartrain borders the north edge of
the city, and the Mississippi marks a
curvey border on the south. If you
climb the river levee near Jackson
Square in the French Quarter, you may
be surprised to find that the river is
At this point 133 cubic miles
of water, soil, effluent, and
industrial waste from 31
states and two Canadian
provinces flows into the  Gulf
each year.
higher than the city below. Actually
much of the city  is below sea level and
depends on 130 miles of levees and a
gargantuan system of pumps to keep it
from being flooded.
  The river continues past New Orleans
for 115 miles on  a tongue of land
extending into the Gulf of Mexico. This
narrow strip and much  of southern
Louisiana was created by sediment
carried by the Mississippi. As sediment
settles and the tongue extends farther
into the sea, the rate of the river's fall is
reduced and the  river slows, which
causes more sediment to be deposited,
creating more incentive for the river to
take the Atchafalaya shortcut.
  At this point 133 cubic miles of
water, soil, effluent, and industrial
waste from 31 states and two Canadian
provinces flows into the Gulf each year.
Thanks to improved sewage treatment
and concern for the environment, the
water gets a little cleaner each year, but
it is far from clean. Meanwhile,
backwaters fill with sediment, plants
and animals continue to disappear, and
people along the river drink tainted
water. Some of these effects are
reversible, and some are not. But the
sources of the problems are all within
our control, Q

The  Southern  California  Bight:
Where  Traditional  Approaches  Won't  Work
by Wesley Marx
   The Southern California Bight
   borders a curve of the Pacific Coast
that runs from Point Conception in
Santa Barbara County, southeast 357
miles to Cabo Colnett, Baja California,
in Mexico, Bounded on the west by the
cool, south-flowing California Current,
the bight covers more than 37,000
square miles of ocean.
  The populous coastal strip bordering
the bight is internationally known as a
center for high-technology industry,
mass entertainment, fast tract
development, and auto-centered
transportation. A combined
U.S.-Mexican population of some 15
million currently resides in the bight's
drainage basin. Residents enjoy such
resources as the bight's bluff-backed
beaches—Malibu, Rincon, Santa
Monica, Huntington Beach, the
Trestles, Baja's San Miguel. Annual
beach attendance along Santa Monica
Bay runs some 44 million. Offshore,
more than 30,000 recreational boats
cruise the waters. Scuba divers glide
through lush submarine forests of kelp.
Anglers pursue tuna, swordfish, and

Enter Environmental Overload

Each day, some 1.5 billion gallons of
treated sewage are discharged to
the bight. Storm drains,  marina
operations, and aerial fallout from
smokestacks and auto exhaust add to
the wasteload.
  Rapid growth has taken its toll on the
bight's  resources. Among these are
coastal wetland systems, which are
important as feeding and resting
stations for migratory waterfowl along
the Pacific Flyway. They also serve as
nursery grounds for important
                                             Los Angeles
                          PACIFIC OCEAN
(Marx served on the National Resource
Council panel on marine monitoring in
the Southern California liighl.)
recreational and commercial fish
stocks, including halibut and turbot.
But too many wetlands, in the drive
towards coastal buiidout, have been
converted into marinas, housing
developments, and parking lots. For
every acre of coastal wetland that
remains, over three acres no longer
exist. Some 75 percent have been lost.
  Schools of steelhead trout in the
bight once converged by the thousands
to ascend coastal watersheds to spawn.
Today, only remnant runs remain;
dams block them from access to
spawning grounds. Stream flows have
been diverted to farm  fields  and urban
  The chemical industry has played a
prominent role in the  region's rise to
industrial prowess, but it has left
environmental scars. In the 1960s and
1970s, uptake of DDT  turned more
fish-eating natives of the bight—brown
pelicans, osprey, bald  eagles, Peregrine
falcons—into endangered species. DDT
was banned from domestic use in 1972,
but past marine discharges of this
durable chemical continue to
contaminate the bight's marine food
  The pace of development outstrips
environmental safeguards. Repeated
closures of San Diego's Mission Bay
and Santa Monica Bay because of
sewage spills have affirmed just how
overloaded these systems were.  EPA
resorted to legal action against both San
Diego and Los  Angeles to secure
compliance with federal water quality
  Keeping a lid on pollution with
conventional measures is increasingly
difficult. The region is trying to find
answers to some basic questions. Can
ways be found to recycle, reuse, and
reduce the soaring wasteloads? Can
storm drains and other uncontrolled
pollution sources be cleaned up? Can
coastal habitat be restored to help the
region regain its natural marine
heritage? Can the United States  and
Mexico cooperate in protecting a
resource they both share? In short, can
new environmental options be
developed for a high-growth region that
is outstripping conventional solutions?
                                                                                             EPA JOURNAL

                        _.*• -
Some Hopeful Signs of a Comeback

Eldorado Nature Park  in Long Beach
has a lush landscape.  The park is
watered by treated effluent that was
once routinely discharged into the
bight. Reclaimed water is being used to
cool industrial processes in Glendale,
process wastepaper in Pomona,
recharge ground water in Los Angeles.
and stem salt-water intrusion in Orange
  By recycling treated effluent, the
region can reduce its reliance on water
imported from the lower Colorado
River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin
delta, Mono Lake, and other stressed
aquatic habitats. Treated effluent for
reuse generally requires a higher level
of treatment (tertiary)  than that for
ocean disposal (secondary). But
reclaimed water can generate income.
The Los Angeles Country Sanitation
Districts (LACSD) gains about $700.000
a year from such sales. Buyers profit
too. Reclaimed water costs less than
imported water. The shift to water
reuse is spreading, encouraged by the
ongoing drought in California. San
Sea lions are denizens of the California
shoreline. This rookery is at San Miguel
Diego, for example, is planning to
construct six reclamation plants.
  Wastewater reuse does require careful
planning.  Reclaimed water can not be
used for direct reuse as a drinking
water. It is limited to industrial uses,
farm and landscape irrigation, and
ground-water recharge. Reclaimed
water lines must be separate from lines
that carry  drinking water.  But lower
water bills can justify installing a dual
system. The farther away a large,
central sewer plant is from customers,
the longer the distribution lines. By
opting for a series of smaller plants in
its service area, LACSD expands its
reuse options. Residential waste flows
are preferred. Industrial flows are
harder to treat for reuse.
  Another treatment byproduct is being
made to pay. LACSD once had to buy
energy to run its major treatment plant.
                         Westey Marx photo

Today, the process to treat sewage
sludge produces more than enough
methane gas to meet LACSD energy
needs. Under an EPA grant for
innovative technology, LACSD has
installed a gas turbine engine that
burns the recovered gas more efficiently
than an internal combustion engine.
while reducing air emissions.
  The region is also learning to reduce
sewage flows and conserve treatment
capacity. The City of Los Angeles and
neighbors that use the city's sewage
system are mandating use of ultra-low
flow toilets. The City of Santa Monica
recently approved construction of a
large commercial  office complex thai
would normally generate some 70,000
million gallons of sewage daily. With
water-conservation fixtures, this
projected daily flow will be cut to
40,000 million gallons.
  More regulatory attention is being
directed to uncontrolled sources of
pollution. In Southern California, storm
drains are separate from sewage drains.
However,  storm drains can still  be
contaminated by nonpoint sources:
animal fecal matter, sewage spills ,m
     Work crews rake and shove! oil-soaked straw during the famous 1969
     Santa Barbara oil spill. The recent Amoco Trader spill off Orange
     County showed that clean-up efforts still need improvement—one of
     many challenges facing the Southern California  Bight.
bypasses from clogged sewer lines,
used oils and cleaning solvents.
  The City of Santa Monica is now
trying to clean up its infamous
Pico-Kenter storm drain, which
regularly dumps highly polluted flows
into the surf zone in Santa Monica Bay.
Bathers are warned  to avoid the area. If
the flows could be disinfected prior to
discharge, the bay might be spared one
more gross insult.
  Chlorine, a standard disinfectant,  is
hazardous and costly to store. Ozone is
not, and Santa Monica, with a grant
from EPA, is evaluating its use to
disinfect the flows.  So far, test results
are promising, and a second option  is
emerging. Treated flows may meet
standards for landscape irrigation. Ergo,
an expanded study to consider reuse of
treated flows  to water nearby freeway
medians and cemeteries.
  Controlling pollutants at the source is
another way to cleanse storm drain
flows. To reduce debris washing into
the Pico-Kenter Drain, Santa Monica
has stepped up street cleaning
programs and placed debris traps on
drain inlets. Sensors along the  drain
can detect hydrocarbon spills; an alarm
sounds so that spills can be contained
before reaching the  surf zone.
"Midnight" dumpers now risk being
caught. Santa Monica's experience is
proving helpful to other coastal
communities  that must now implement
drain controls under the federal Water
Quality Act.
  Reclaiming seemingly lost habitat is
becoming as promising an option as
reclaiming wasteloads. By removing old
salt-pond dikes and accumulated silt,
the California Department of Fish and
Game reopened a derelict section of
Upper Newport Bay in Orange County
to the tides. As the tides return, so do
the fish, the shorebirds, and the salt
marsh plants.
  In Bolsa Chica marsh near
Huntington Beach, another derelict
wetlands area has been restored to 300
acres of prime salt marsh. The U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service plans to
restore over 1,000 acres of salt ponds in
south San Diego  Bay.
                                                                                                        EPA JOURNAL

                                                           Brown kelp frequently
                                                           washes onto California
                                                           beaches, This underwater
                                                           plant is a key link in the
                                                           bight's marine ecosystem.
  Steelhead salmon may get a new
lease on life in the busy bight. A fish
ladder has been installed on the Santa
Clara River to help a remnant run of
about 100 steelhead regain historic
spawning grounds. Screens have been
installed on canal diversions to prevent
juvenile steelhead from straying into
fatal dead ends. Farther south, a group
called California Trout is working to
install  fish bypasses around  barriers in
Malibu Creek to help another remnant
run of  steelhead.
  In February 1990, the oil spill from
American Trader off Orange County not
only perpetuated environmental
concern in the bight over marine oil
activities, but showed that clean-up
efforts  can still leave something to be
desired. Some 400,000 gallons of
Alaskan North Slope crude were spilt.
Despite containment efforts at sea, oil
wash«d up along 15 miles of coast. It
was a month before the final beach
closure could be lifted.
  However,  concern over oil activities
in the bight  can help spur the region's
quest for resource alternatives. In 1990,
the California Public Utilities
Commission, working with major
energy utilities and environmental
groups like the Natural Resources
Defense Council, began a major
program to provide utility customers
with rebates for purchasing
energy-efficient furnaces, refrigerators,
and water heaters.  By shifting to energy
conservation and alternative energy
sources, Pacific Gas and Electric
Company plans to  save the equivalent
of about 11 million barrels of oil per
  The  region is adopting a similar
strategy in dealing with another
pervasive environmental problem. To
achieve EPA air quality standards for
the smoggy Los Angeles basin, the
California Air Resources Board is
moving beyond the nation's  most
stringent tailpipe emission controls and
mandating changes in car design,
including cleaner burning fuels and
engines. The 1990  federal Clean Air Act
amendments reinforce  this shift. More
stringent air pollution controls will
mean less aerial fallout of pollutants to
the bight.
  Historically, responsibility for
protecting the bight from pollution has
been split up among a maze of state,
local, and federal agencies. This
fragmented approach can hinder
effective responses to critical areas of
concern such as Santa Monica Bay. In
1988, the bay was made part of EPA's
National Estuary Program, which
provides a mechanism for coordinated
action. Some 50 member organizations
are collaborating in the Santa Monica
Bay Restoration Project, created to
develop a Comprehensive Conservation
and Management Plan for the bay.
  A 1990 National Research Council
(NRC) report, Monitoring Southern
California's Coastal Waters,
recommended establishing a regional
marine monitoring program. The report
found that current monitoring efforts in
water quality and marine resources are
fragmented and uneven. The data
collected can go unused. As the NRC
report noted, "There currently  is no
effective system for reporting findings
of monitoring programs to the public,
the scientific community,  or policy
makers." One priority effort in the
Santa Monica Bay Restoration Program
will be to develop an integrated
monitoring system for the bay.
  Major industrial and population
growth in the Baja area underscores the
importance of a regional perspective.
This growth is fueled, in part, by the
Maquiladora program, under which
businesses in the United States and
other countries  can establish
production lines in Mexico's border
cities to take advantage of lower labor
and operating costs. Finished products
can be shipped  back across the border
subject only to U.S. duties on the value
added after assembly or processing.
Over 300 Maquiladora plants in Tijuana
pump an estimated $10 million a
month into the city's economy. The
city's population, currently an
estimated 1.2 million, is expected
eventually to exceed that of its
neighbor, San Diego.
  As can happen north of the border,
Tijuana's explosive growth can outstrip
public services. As much as 10 million
gallons a day of raw sewage from
Tijuana has flowed along a river
channel and into the U.S.  side of the
border. Since the early 1980s, a
two-mile stretch of San Diego beaches
north of the border have been closed to
use because of these runaway flows.
The Tijuana estuary,  designated a
National Estuarine Area by NOAA, has
also been contaminated.
  In 1990, the United States and
Mexico entered into a joint agreement
to fund a sewage-treatment plant on the
U.S. side to treat  the cross-border flows.
Mexico will require industries to
pre-treat their flows before discharge
into the bi-national plant,  which will
provide secondary treatment and
disinfection prior to ocean-outfall
disposal. Mexico  will also upgrade a
treatment facility on its side of the
border that discharges into the surf
zone. Tijuana's collection  system is to
be upgraded and  expanded; half the
city's residents live in unsewered areas.

The Future is in Doubt
The emerging opportunities in water
reuse, wetland restoration, energy
conservation, and cross-border
cooperation may  provide this coastal
region with expanded options in
shaping its environmental future and
protecting the resources of the bight.
But population pressures and the risks
of outstripping environmental
safeguards will intensify.
  By 2010, 2.6 million more people
will reside in the coastal counties of
Los Angeles,  Orange, and  San Diego,
according to NOAA's Ocean
Assessments Division. Orange
Country's population alone will jump
by 704,000. By then,  fast-growing
Tijuana could become the second
largest city along this coast, exceeded
only by Los Angeles. Amid such rapid
development, the challenge of
protecting the bight's natural resources
will remain as formidable  as ever. D

The  Ogallala  Aquifer:
An   Underground  Sea
 by Jack  Lewis
 (Lewis is an Assistant Kditor of EPA

 "An acre foot of ground water is
 enough to cover an acre: of hind with
 one fool of writer. It is equivalent to
 nearly 320,000 gallons of water.

    One of America's greatest natural
    wonders is invisible to the naked
eye: A king's ransom in fresh water lies
buried under 170,000 square miles of
sand and rock in the nation's once arid,
now verdant Great Plains. Named the
High Plains aquifer, this ground-water
system is the largest in the United
States, and one of the largest in the
world. A vast, hidden,  silent freshwater
aquifer,  it runs from South Dakota all
the way to Texas, with part of its vast
reserves extending under eastern
Wyoming, Colorado,  and  New Mexico.
  The High Plains aquifer system
consists for the most part of the famous
Ogallala Formation as well as
connected parts of adjacent
underground water deposits. The term
"Ogallala Aquifer" was widely used in
the past to refer to what is now
technically known as the High Plains
aquifer;  the name "Ogallala" is still
commonly used in areas where the
Ogallala Formation comprises most of
the High Plains system, as it does in
most localities. ("Ogallala" in the
language of the Sioux Indians means
"scatter their own"—which is
something the Sioux did to survive.
The Ogallala Formation is named after
the Nebraska town of Ogallala, located
above the aquifer.)
  In a sense, the  High Plains
ground-water system is America's sixth
Great Lake. Its 3.3 billion acre feet* of
fresh water would fill Lake Huron to
the brim, with water left over to fill
one-fifth of Lake  Ontario. If pumped
out over the United States, the High
Plains aquifer would cover all 50 states
with one and 1/2 feet of water.
  Despite its richly deserved status as
one of America's great  bodies of water,
the High Plains aquifer is virtually
unknown outside its native region,
even under its more traditional name,
Ogallala. Symptomatic of its obscurity
is the fact that neither the Encyclopedia
Britannica nor the Encyclopedia
Americana devotes even one word to
this wonder of nature. Out of  sight, as
the adage goes, all too often means out
of mind. Ground water, because of its
invisibility, is mysterious, even
awe-inspiring, but it  lacks the
charismatic glamour  and  the wide
renown of a great above-ground tourist
  Yet its beneficial effects—if
workmanlike—are nothing short of
spectacular. Thanks to Ogallala-tapped
irrigation, the High Plains region of
America's Great Plains has escaped its
near-desert image of a century ago.
Though precipitation is moderate in the
High Plains (16 to 28 inches), it is
insufficient to sustain intensive
agricultural cultivation. The High
Plains aquifer's bounty is directly
responsible for $20 billion worth of
High Plains food and fiber production
in 1989 alone, with ancillary economic
benefits estimated at  $50  billion per
  But all  is not well with the High
Plains system. Seventy years of steadily
increasing pumping have skimmed the
top off the aquifer's reserves of
water—reserves that took millions of
years to build up through a slow
dripping  process not  unlike the passage
of water through a full coffee filter.
  Experts now estimate that 11 percent
of the aquifer has been pumped since
the 1930s, and that 25 percent of its
once vast reserves will be gone by the
year  2020. With 170,000 wells sucking
it dry—one for every square mile of the
aquifer's area—it is almost a miracle
that roughly  89 percent of the High
Plains aquifer's freshwater treasure is
still intact. Two-thirds of that reserve  is
under Nebraska, which is blessed with
the thickest and most densely saturated
of the vast system's underground
formations. Other states, with
ground-water reserves of shallower
saturated thickness, have not been so
fortunate; many wells in Colorado,
Kansas, and Texas have already been
pumped dry.
  The pumping craze began in Texas
shortly after World War I. A few
dry-land farmers had a vision: They
wanted to transform the Texas
panhandle into a crazy quilt of huge,
heavily irrigated cotton plantations.
The 1930s Dust Bowl, which struck
further north, brought a new wave of
converts to irrigation, eager to tap into
the transforming riches of the High
Plains aquifer. However, it was not
until after World War II that High

                       EPA JOURNAL

Corn being irrigated in southwestern Nebraska. Many farmers using water from the Ogallala aquifer are
becoming more conservation-minded.
                                                                                                     Tm McCabe photo. USDA
Plains irrigation became entrenched up
and down the region, even all the way
up to South Dakota. From relatively
humble beginnings in the late 1940s,
these operations quickly intensified.
For example, in 1948 Texas had 8,356
wells; a mere nine years later, that total
had soared to 42,225. Southwest
Nebraska had 111,600 acres irrigated in
1950, as opposed  to a whopping
873,000 in 1983.
  The popularity  of irrigation was not
hard to understand. Despite the
expense of pumps and the fuel needed
to power them,  irrigation increased
yields by 600 to 800 percent over those
obtainable through dry farming. There
was also a dangerous and pervasive
myth that  the waters of the High Plains
system were inexhaustible, endlessly
replenished by  an underground river
from the Rockies.  In reality, almost all
recharge to the  High Plains aquifer
originates  from  infiltration and
downward percolation either of surface
water or, more commonly, of
  For 30 years,  from the late 1940s to
the late  1970s, the rapid proliferation of
privately owned wells continued
virtually unabated. The result was the
transformation of  the once
drought-ridden  High Plains into a new
fertile crescent,  a  "green belt"
enormous in its dimensions and its
productivity. Never before in human
history had irrigation so drastically
altered the physiognomy  of so large  an
arid region. And it was all thanks to the
High Plains aquifer, 7 million acre feet
of which were pumped in 1950, as
opposed to 21 million in 1980. Wes
Robbins, a High Plains farmer,
acknowledges the aquifer's pivotal role:
"The High Plains is the largest land
mass in the world with this kind of
[irrigation-sustained] cropland."
  By 1980, however, there were signs
that  the party was coming to an end.
The  state of Kansas discovered, to its
dismay, that it had already pumped up
In  1948 Texas had 8,356
wells;  a mere nine years
later,  that total haa  soared
to 42,225.
to 38 percent of its High Plains system
reserves. In parts of Texas, depletion
was even worse, with water tables
down 200 feet, and wells either
running dry or ceasing to be profitable
to pump. In Colorado, water tables
were dropping up to five feet a year.
Such drastic declines in ground-water
levels were attributable to farmers
pumping water at a  rate faster than
nature's ability to recharge the aquifer.
The High Plains system was simply
being overpumped.
  Then fuel prices shot up in the
1970s,  and with them so did the once
negligible cost of irrigation. Assisted by
increased rainfall, farmers began to
discover that higher profitability was
often compatible with lower yields and
curtailed irrigation. As a result,
between 1980 and 1985, ground-water
use dropped 19 percent in the High
Plains region.  Between 1980 and 1988,
there was a most encouraging High
Plains system  water-level rise of 0.8
feet, representing an increase in
available water of 13,400,000 acre feet.
  During the 1980s, the Ogallala
pumping that  continued became more
cost-effective and more
conservation-minded. It must be
conceded that economic pressures
forced farmers to become water
conservationists, but few would deny
that that is what they have become.
One success was achieved with LKPA,
"low-energy proficiency application,"
which saved water by using a nozzle to
squirt it directly into the soil rather
than up into the air in a spray of
quickly evaporating artificial rain. For
many years, farmers had relied on
artificial rain released in great wasteful
sprays of water from so-called "pivots."

  Other farmers experimented with the
solar-powered  surge valve, which
automatically opened and closed
irrigation valves around the clock. Still
others built "run-off pits" to capture
and recycle irrigation flows. The
greatest savings in High Plains ground
water came, however, not from any
technological gadget or farming
innovation, but simply from the
discovery made by farmers that "less is
more": Beyond a certain point,
irrigation does not boost either profits
or yield enough to warrant wholesale
pillaging of an irreplaceable resource.
  By the 1980s, the quantity of High
Plains ground  water was no longer the

sole concern: Signs of its growing
contamination were throwing a scare
into farmers throughout the region. The
problem was most acute in the very
heart of the paradise created by ground
water—namely, water-rich Nebraska.
The aquifer is close to the surface in
Nebraska and protected only by sandy
soil. It was easy for pesticides  and
fertilizers to leach down into ground
water and degrade what once was fresh
and pure.
  Several Nebraska communities that
had been relying  on the High Plains
system for  drinking water had  to pump
new wells  when nitrate levels  exceeded
the regulatory standard. The problem
was less acute in  Texas and Colorado,
where High Plains ground water was
deeper beneath the surface and
shielded from surface activities by cap
rock and low percolating soils. Even in
those  states, however, contaminants
managed to seep  down wellheads at the
very site of pumping and to pollute
depleted waters that were already
becoming increasingly expensive to
  Concern  over depletion and
contamination of  the High Plains
system has prompted several states  to
take regulatory action.  New Mexico is
in the best  position to act because its
ground-water reserves have been in  the
public domain since 1931. To  cite just
one example, farmers in Yuma County,
New Mexico, pump only one-quarter as
much High Plains water as their
neighbors in Gaines County, Texas,
who regard the ground water under
their land as private property.  Texas
passed a ground-water control law in
1949, and Colorado began requiring
well permits in 1957. In 1968  Kansas
created three water districts to monitor
  In all three of these states, opposition
to state regulation has been intense. For
instance, a few years ago in Burlington,
Colorado, state troopers had to be
called out  to quell opposition  to
proposed metering of irrigation pumps.
Today the  same fanners are more likely
to acquiesce in what they once
resisted—or at least to shun direct
confrontation in favor of hiring
high-priced lawyers.
  The threat of litigation also  hovers
over Greeley County in western Kansas.
Keith Lebbin, the water manager in
Scott  City,  has condemned the
tokenism implicit in recent efforts:
People once thought that water and the
prairie would last forever, despite drains
on the aquifer and other impacts of
human activities. But nature's bounty is
not inexhaustible.
 "The horse has already left the
 barn .... A new proposal would limit
 12 areas in Greeley County to 641 acre
 feet of [irrigation] water. But permits
 are already in existence for 8,191 acre
 feet. What do you do: sue everyone to
 take away their  property rights? What's
 the cost of that?"
   Water-rich Nebraska, with  High
 Plains reserves predicted to last 400
 years, is determined to preserve its
 advantage. The Cornhusker state is in
 the forefront of ground-water
 regulation, in 1975 the state  legislature
 divided Nebraska into Natural
 Resources Districts (NRDs), to be
 headed by elected officials, mainly
 farmers. In 1978, the Upper Republican
 River NRD had  to go to court to defend
 its right to meter wells. Ten  years later,
 the same NRD set the first pumping
 limit in the state—75 inches per acre
 over the next five years—and met with
 astonishingly little resistance.
   What does the future hold? Some
 visionaries have suggested using
 surface water to compensate for
 depleted ground-water reserves. At the
 cost of billions of dollars, these
 prophets recommend constructing a
 huge canal west to Texas from the
 Mississippi, and another south to
 Kansas and Colorado from the Yukon,
 Susitana, and Tanana  Rivers in Canada.
 Predictably, officials in the Mississippi
 River valley and Canada have turned a
 deaf ear to these bold, outrageously
 expensive, and  possibly ecologically
 damaging proposals.
  In turn, a few people have suggested
that Nebraska begin exporting some of
its over-abundant High Plains reserves,
but these suggestions have met with an
even greater storm of protest. Critics of
the idea  note that interlopers from
Kansas, Colorado, and Texas are
already buying up large parcels of
Cornhusker real estate.
  Is it  any  wonder that some
water-crazed High Plains farmers are
hiring  rainmakers to attempt with
magic  what logic and science have been
unable to accomplish: the saving of the
High Plains aquifer. Professional
rainmakers, using a blend of high-tech
savvy and good old-fashioned hocus
pocus, have taken credit in some areas
for the recent  increases in High Plains
rainfall. Unfortunately, rainfall restores
only 10 percent of the ground water in
the High Plains aquifer that pumping  at
present rates depletes. Given the basic
aridity of the High Plains region, it
would  take hundreds of years of
heavier than normal rainfall to
replenish what 70 years of
undisciplined pumping have depleted:
reserves  of ground water accumulated
drip by drip over millions of years.
  It will  take more than a rainmaker
but probably less than a canal to right
the wrongs of the High Plains  system's
past. Already the sheer cost of
irrigation—$40 per acre foot in some
places—is teaching farmers valuable
lessons of self-restraint; others are
learning  new behavior from state
regulators,  once despised but now
regarded  as harbingers of the future.
Part of this shift in attitude can be
explained by the growing popularity of
the concept of "sustainable"
development:  the idea that present-day
farmers and other businessmen must
save nonrenewable resources for future
generations. So pervasive has this new
attitude become that the farmers of the
High Plains region would be
universally castigated if their single
legacy  was a bone-dry aquifer,
especially one formerly so mighty.
  How sad it would be, almost
everyone now realizes, if residents of
some new High Plains desert could
only read of what their forefathers once
squandered: the legendary but only
seemingly inexhaustible riches of the
High Plains ground-water
system . . . otherwise known in more
traditional and more romantic terms
simply as the great Ogallala.o
                                                                                                         EPA JOURNAL

The  Quetico-Superior  Lakes
Tainted  by  Surprise
 by  Dean Rebuffoni
                                undar  Waters Canoe Area
retard the growth of mildew on the
paint; mercury additives in the paint
may be entering the atmosphere via this
  The remaining 20 percent of the
mercury in the boundary-lakes region
apparently comes from other sources in
the lakes' watersheds. That could
include mercury that falls onto land
within those watersheds, then is
washed into the lakes.
The study calculates that
perhaps 86 percent of the
mercury comes from
atmospheric deposition.
  Based on figures contained in the
state-federal study, an estimated 300 to
600 pounds of mercury falls on the
BWCA and Quetico Park each year
through precipitation; the amount
entering from dry deposition is not
  Although the study focused on 80
lakes in the BWCA, the Superior
National Forest, and elsewhere in
northeastern Minnesota, there's little
doubt that the mercury known to be
tainting fish in Quetico Park also is the
result of atmospheric deposition, said
Gary Glass, a research scientist at the
EPA's Duluth Laboratory. "The problem
of mercury deposition in the BWCA
and  Quetico is indicative of the kinds
of atmospheric inputs to all freshwater
bodies that are within the impact zone
of such airborne toxins," he said.
  Glass and George Rapo jr., a professor
of geology and chemistry at the
University of Minnesota's Duluth
campus, directed the survey of the 80
lakes to pinpoint mercury
concentrations in water, sediment, and
zooplankton (plankton animal life).
They also gathered data on mercury
concentrations in the region's air and
  "We found that the mercury in
precipitation comes from airborne
sources, some of which are within the
region and some outside," Glass said.
"Some mercury enters Minnesota much
the same way that acid rain comes into
the state." He noted that the burning of.
fossil fuels results in airborne
emissions which contain not only
acidic pollutants, but mercury and
other toxic metals.
  Minnesota environmentalists have
suggested that some of the mercury
might be emitted from waste-to-energy
incinerators  in the state. Fourteen
major, publicly  owned incinerators are
operating, under construction, or being
planned in Minnesota. If, as planned,
all those plants  are fully operating in
the next several years, they will burn at
least half of  the state's municipal
garbage. Minnesota then will have a
heavier per-capita reliance on garbage
incineration  then any other state, the
MPCA has said. No definitive studies,
however, have been conducted  to
determine how much mercury might be
falling on northeastern lakes from
incinerators  in Minnesota, or
  Most of the 80 lakes studied by Glass
and Rapo are in the BWCA or
elsewhere in the Superior National
Forest, which sprawls across 3  million
acres of  northeastern Minnesota. The
U.S.  Forest Service is responsible for
maintaining  the BWCA's wilderness
values and protecting air quality
throughout the Superior Forest. But the
forest supervisor, Dave Filius, stressed
that his  agency lacks the power to deal
with air pollution from outside sources.
"We've got a problem in the BWCA and
adjacent areas that can't be controlled
by the local  ranger," he said.
  Filius emphasized that while the
Forest Service is concerned about
mercury contamination, it doesn't want
to frighten people who eat fish  from
northeastern Minnesota lakes. "We do,
however, want to inform them in order
to build support for more effective
controls on the emissions that cause
this problem," he said. "We are charged
by federal law to maintain a pure,
natural environment. Fish that are too
toxic for some people to eat aren't what
I would call 'natural.'"
  Minnesota officials have known for
more than 20 years that mercury has
contaminated fish from certain state
waters. But the recent state-federal
study pointed out that the problem is
growing. In 1977, only one lake in
"It's clearly a problem that
we have to deal with or we
lose the battle," EPA's Glass
Minnesota (at the edge of the BWCA)
was covered by a fish-consumption
advisory issued by the state Health
Department. Advisories now cover 260
lakes and 26 streams, many of them in
the state's northeastern quarter.
Although many of the advisories are
based on mercury contamination of
fish, others result from contamination
by chemicals such as polychlorinated
biphenyls (PCBs).
  The advisories include the Health
Department's recommendation that
women of child-bearing age and
children under 12 not eat large walleye
or northern pike from more than half of
99 lakes tested within the BWCA and
elsewhere in the Superior National
  "It's clearly a problem that we have
to deal with or we lose the battle,"
EPA's Glass said. "The fish in  the
boundary waters are not being affected
directly: They still have good
reproduction, for example.  But enough
mercury is entering those lakes through
atmospheric deposition that the flesh of
fish is being tainted  to the point where
someday they could be unsafe for
anyone to eat.
                                                              EPA JOURNAL

                                                        DuSuth News-Tribune photo

 Although the Boundary Waters Canoe
 Area wilderness appears pristine,
 airborne mercury is contaminating lakes
 in the area.
  "Now 11 percent of the 80 lakes we
studied have advisories restricting fish
consumption to one meal per month,"
he said. "Unless we act, in 20 to 30
years about 80 percent of those lakes
will be covered by the same
  The MPCA (Minnesota Pollution
Control Agency) stressed that the
concentration of mercury in fish
depends not only on the availability of
mercury, but on each lake's water
chemistry, which varies greatly across
Minnesota. Before mercury can enter
the food chain, it must be converted to
methylmercury, a complex process
researchers say is not completely
understood. The MPCA and the EPA's
Duluth laboratory are continuing
research on how mercury finds its way
into the flesh of fish.
  And the problem is not restricted to
fish, said Marvin Hora, who heads the
MPCA's water-quality toxics assessment
unit and helped coordinate the mercury
study.  He noted that  the contaminant
can harm certain wildlife species which
highly depend on fish for food, such as
eagles, otters, loons, and mink.
  "Everybody seems  to agree that  the
mercury in remote lakes is the result of
an atmospheric problem," Hora said.
"We have to shut off the source of that
mercury, and in Minnesota  we're
looking strongly at the idea of pollution
prevention  rather than pollution
control. We have to make sure that the
mercury is  never released into the
  The  MPCA and Minnesota
environmentalists recently supported a
proposed amendment to the federal
Clean Air Act that would have
restricted emissions of mercury and
other air toxins from coal-fired power
plants and factories. But congressional
sources said that the electric-utility
industry was instrumental in
persuading federal lawmakers to drop
that amendment, arguing that more
studies are needed on the issue. As part
of its recent reauthorization of the
Clean Air Act, Congress directed EPA
to undertake such studies, then propose
standards to cut toxic  emissions.
  The MPCA seeks a national
mercury-control program similar to
Minnesota's 8-year-old program that
has cut emissions of sulfur dioxide
from power plants in the state. That
state program, one of the first in the
nation, is intended to  reduce
Minnesota's contribution to the
national  acid-rain problem.  Like acid
rain, airborne mercury does not respect
state boundaries, and the MPCA
emphasizes that only a national effort
will effectively curb both forms of
  Despite the concern about mercury
contamination in the boundary-waters
region, there is hope that the problem
can be alleviated.
  Glass  noted that  some of the region's
larger, deeper lakes require more than
100 years to renew their water and
flush out some  contaminants. "But that
applies to certain other classes of toxins
than mercury," he said. "Mercury
appears to have a much shorter lifetime
in a lake's water column. If the input of
mercury  is halted, it might be only a
few weeks or months before mercury is
removed from the water column and
absorbed into sediment or plankton and
other biota (all of an area's living
  "That would allow the fish to grow
with decreasing body burdens of
mercury, and within a short period of
time they would be safer to eat." Q

Managing  Nature
in  the  Everglades
by James Webb
     Once, North America's greatest
     wetland system gathered waters
from the center of Florida's  peninsula
and deposited them in Lake
Okeechobee, purified through winding
rivers and grassy  swamps. Overflows of
the lake moved slowly southward in a
wide sheet, picking up abundant
rainfall along the  way, and drained  into
the innumerable estuaries of the coast.
  Over thousands of years, waters
sweeping the peninsula's limestone
shelf produced tree islands and
pinewood flats in the slightly higher
elevations and, a  few inches below,
created a  vast, interwoven system of
swamps and sloughs. The Everglades
was born, and beneath its waters dying
plants formed a deep accumulation  of
peat  soils.
  Reaching into the climate of the
Caribbean, the  varied landscapes of the
'"glades"  became  home to a unique
mixture of plants  and animals from
tropical and temperate zones and
provided  generously for  them all. An
intricate pattern of life adapted to the
seasonal procession of Everglades
waters and  to years of drought and
deluge, flood and fire.
  That adaptation was so successful
that Europeans making their timid early
entries into the province found the
continent's  richest hoard of wetland
life. Clouds of egrets and ibis rolled
from sprawling, noisy rookeries. Waters
teemed with fish, amphibians, and
alligators. The  nighttime scream of the
panther and the dawn sweep of
spoonbills bespoke a magic  realm. But
the real magic of  the Everglades lay
invisible, unheard, and unknown.
  The real magic  was that (he
Everglades was one thing—an organic
whole, an ecosystem. From  the
microbial chemistry of its muck soils to
its soaring eagles, from sunfish in its
crystal headwaters to infant shrimp in
Florida Bay, the parts worked because
the whole ecosystem worked.
  The Western spirit of conquest being
what it was, however, most  pioneers
(Webb is Regional Director of The
Wilderness Society in Florida.)
                                     saw the Everglades only as a set of
                                     engineering, economic, and  political
                                     problems. Bloody suppression of the
                                     Seminole Indians could lead to
                                     peaceful occupancy by "civilized"
                                     people. A shipping shortcut from the
                                     Atlantic to the Gulf could be made by
                                     dredging the Caloosahatchee and
                                     building a canal from Lake Okeechobee
                                     to the Indian River. Plumes  from
                                     millions of slaughtered egrets, perched
                                     on millions of fashionable chapeaux,
                                     could add millions of dollars to private
                                     accounts. Drained and diked, the
                                     Everglades' rich soils could  produce
                                     rich farms.
                                       Despite setbacks from flood, fraud,
                                     and folly, efforts to subdue the 'glades
                                     inched forward for a hundred  years,
                                     supported by various forms  and degrees
                                     of public grants and public corruption.
                                     Highways and drainage districts, farms
                                     and towns, gnawed at its parts. The
                                     invasion took a toll  on  nature  and on
                                     the intruding humans as well.
                                     Hundreds died when the weakly diked
Lake Okeechobee broke loose in a
hurricane of the mid-1920s, and great
storms of the 1940s damaged the
swelling economy of the region. Such
events—and the growing technical
prowess of the nation—spurred the
impulse to bring the Everglades under
comprehensive human control.
  In 1947, Army engineers, modern
heirs of the conquistador spirit, issued
a plan for management of the
Everglades' waters that entailed gigantic
changes to their natural condition. Built
to the direction of Congress, the Central
and Southern  Florida Project joined
and expanded the faltering drainage
systems then in  place, created the
Everglades Agricultural Area (about
700,000 acres  of arable land south of
Lake Okeechobee), and laid the base for
the vast  urban agglomeration that now
occupies Florida's southeast coast.
  Almost simultaneously, Congress
established Everglades National Park at
the downstream end of the system,
thereby placing  over a million acres

           George Grant photo. National Park Service
                                           Some areas of the Everglades remain relatively undisturbed, like this lagoon with
                                           trees festooned with Spanish moss.
                                                                                                  EPA JOURNAL

      Waterways and Canals
under the highest standards of natural
protection that our society offers. This
was the first great (expression of a
national purpose to preserve the
Everglades and its natural life.
  That the Central and Southern
Florida Project and the Everglades
National Park  were born at roughly the
same time is almost ironic. The tension
between the respective goals of those
two initiatives illustrates the enduring
problems of "saving the Everglades."
  Considering the era, the Army's
project was potent and sophisticated,
with capable structures and
well-integrated goals for regional flood
control and water supply. Again
considering the era, the absence of
strong plans to accommodate and
protect natural processes is no surprise.
  From  the time the project's main
elements were built, and their
operation turned over to a state
agency—now the South Florida Water
Management District—human decisions
rather than natural forces became the
most influential factor in the watery
ecosystem. The fate of Everglades
National Park  and of every natural
element of the region was tied to
human intention—and human
inadvertence. When we humans take
over management of an ecosystem, our
best efforts are clumsier than God's
most casual, and we align our purposes
awkwardly to  His.
  The project compartmentalized the
Everglades, so that its waters could be
used for irrigation when farmlands
were dry—and could be drained away
when the lands were wet. Thus the
native flux of the system was lost, and
so was wildlife that could not adapt to
an unnatural pond here, an unnatural
prairie there, or the disruption of
age-old  cycles  of inundation and
  Half the historic Everglades is now
farms, groves, pastures, and cities.
What's left functions so poorly that
plant and animal life, accustomed to
millennial patterns of water and food
supplies, suffer as those supplies are
diminished, distorted, and dirtied.
  Over the last 50 years, we have lost
90 percent of the Everglades' wading
bird populations, and the trend
continues downward. Now appended to
the Everglades system is the nation's
longest, saddest list of endangered
  Water that once flowed through the
heart of the system, taking perhaps a
year to get from Okeechobee to the
tides, is now rushed to sea, and lost
forever to the 'glades.  As a result, the
Everglades—think of it as a huge
sponge—is  generally drier, and the
effects of flood and drought have grown
more volatile. To the Everglades, our
water management practices now bring
discharge spikes, too-rapid recession,
wild swings in estuarine salinity,
degraded water quality, extended
drought, and the threat of early death.
Property tax assessments for water
management force most citizens to
subsidize operations that damage their
own natural capital.
  Everglades water goes underground
to supply the Biscayne Aquifer, the
source of every drop from every faucet
in every house, business, and industry
of the coastal metropolis. Whereas
ships once took on fresh water from the
aquifer's upwellings in Biscayne Bay,
water managers now struggle to keep
salt water out of municipal wellfields.
  While billions of gallons of water are
diverted to tide,  authorities plan
expensive, energy-hungry desalting
plants to meet  urban water demands.
Areas along the eastern margin of the
Everglades, critical to movement of its
waters underground, are now drained
and paved for development, adding to
demands on the aquifer instead of
supplying strength to it. Draining the
upstream Everglades Agricultural Area
(EAA)  caused its soils to subside, so the
whole  system is managed at lower
water levels to keep the EAA
sufficiently dry, further denying  water
to the Everglades and the aquifer.
  One  reason for the subsidence  of
those soils is that they are oxidized
when exposed to air and bacterial
action. Nitrogen and phosphorus, once
chemically bound in subaqueous muck,
are released to flow downstream  with
drainage water. The typical sawgrass
marsh  of the Everglades is adapted to
extremely low levels of those elements.
Modest increases in their
concentrations convert the marsh to
dense growths of cattail and other
pollution-tolerant plants. Thousands of
acres of public wetlands, including
parts of Loxahatchee National Wildlife
Refuge, have been so altered. Their
oxygen-depleted waters now support
some topminnows and polychaete
worms, where the whole volume and
variety of  Everglades life once
  The EAA continues to pour nitrogen
and phosphorus into the system,  a
tremendous  slug of pollutants is
already in train, and the integrity of the
Everglades—all of the Everglades—is
  Unplanned, unintended, and
damaging  results of the Central and
Southern Florida Project are more
evident daily, as growing demand
strains its  operating capacities,
sharpens competition for its benefits,
and generally incurs higher costs to the
ecosystem and the society. Against
those effects, we now freight the  project
with purposes not comprehended in its
original aims, such as protection  of
endangered species  and water quality.
The latter  reflect a legal and moral
direction to  protect  nature in the
Everglades, restore what we can of its
lost values, and provide for a

 burgeoning human population and for a
 vigorous, urban economy,
   Ungodlike as their powers remain,
 scientists, policymakers, and ordinary
 people have learned a lot in the
 half-century of the project about what
 the Everglades needs, what the
 Everglades does for us, and what
 happens when 4 million people move
 into the neighborhood. The political
 lesson is this: Living with the
 Everglades system, and restoring its
 liveliness, presents a hard, permanent,
 and vital challenge to our institutions.
   Throughout the United States, issues
 of constitutional  federalism are
 increasingly about water. Serving
 private and public water needs through
 the interlaced methods, aims, and
 authorities of state and  nation is
 nowhere more demanding than in the
   The law establishing Everglades
 National Park calls on the Department
 of Interior to protect the objects and
 processes of its natural  life, forever. In
 fact, the park's "forever" lies more  with
 the South Florida Water Management
 District than with federal authority. The
 fate of the natural system is influenced
 more by Florida's choices in growth
 management than by the United
 Nations' designation of the park as a
 World Heritage Site.
   Increasingly, laboriously, in  a maze
 of enactments, lawsuits, studies, and
 management plans, state and federal
 authorities have come to recognize the
 systematic problems of  the Everglades
 and take common aim at better
   That  recognition illuminates
 fundamental errors in the management
 of the Everglades' waters and awful
                                                   it S Fish and Wittilite Service photo
 barriers to needed change—the kind of
 change that will support the most
 productive economic uses of those
 waters and also protect the ecosystem
 on which such uses finally depend.
 Such recognition also reveals some
 steps along the True Path: some things
 we've done right, some ideas that
 deserve wider embodiment.
   The system's great public reserves
 give both motive and hope for the

Half the historic Everglades
is now farms, groves,
pastures, and cities.

 accommodation of man and nature in
 the Everglades; they preserve not just
 land and water, but choices. A current
 example of action broadening the
 Everglades' prospects is the 1989
 addition of 108,000 acres to Everglades
 National Park's eastern boundaries.
 Enacted with firm support by the state,
 the East Everglades expansion brings
 the park's central supply of overland
 waters, Shark River Slough, into public
   The expansion area is now  mostly
 divided into small lots, distinguished
 only on paper,  and  their owners are
 mostly victims  of unscrupulous swamp
 peddlers. As a result of withholding
 water flow from the otherwise
 unprotected, never-to-be-developed
 private holdings, the western,
 park-owned half of  the slough is subject
 to excessive discharges from project
 control structures, and the wetlands life
 of the eastern portion is decimated.
   In addition to its  acquisition program
 for the eastern lands, the park
                                                                                Drainage of portions of the Everglades
                                                                                has disrupted the ecosystem as a whole.
                                                                                It is now much more vulnerable to flood
                                                                                and drought.
 expansion measure directed changes to
 project works that will let managers
 replicate more natural water patterns in
 the slough. The district developed a
 computer model, based on regional
 rainfall, that attempts to show how the
 slough's waters would move under
 unimpaired conditions. That model,
 refined as  necessary by actual operating
 experience, will guide future deliveries
 to the park. More broadly, it suggests
 the kind of knowledge and application
 needed to restore abundance and
 diversity in the whole ecosystem.
  The most powerful data from the
 most powerful computers leave us far
 short of understanding a complex
 system like the Everglades, but they
 sufficiently reveal gross error and
 important choices. Many prior choices,
 imbedded in the concrete of the  Central
 and Southern Florida Project, are
 sapping resources—water, money, and
 options—needed to save the Everglades.
 Those choices—and the project
 itself—must now be remade, as growing
 knowledge shows us systematic
 impairment that demands systematic
  Before we began to alter the
 Everglades, it survived 5,000 years of
 drought, hurricane, and fire,
 perennially healing the fabric of  its life.
 We have cut and ruptured that fabric in
 ways that will never be repaired; still it
 remains one of the world's natural
  The Everglades is now our ward. We
 are obliged, for the Everglades and
 ourselves, to bind energy, intelligence,
 and the knowledge of the heart to its
 protection and revival. Only if we
 guard and cultivate the seeds of
 renewal, and redress each of our  errors,
 however deeply rooted, will  a
 bounteous nature respond.
  There is no adequate precedent, in
 the nation or the world, for conscious
 restoration  of an ecosystem so invaded
 by man. The job in the Everglades is to
 set the precedent and to do so quickly
and well. Nesting success, whether for
storks, alligators, or people, depends on
it. L
                                                                                                       EPA JOURNAL

The  Eco-lnvaders
by David  Yount
Zebra Mussels.
                       LePage photo AScI Corp.
     Around 250 million years ago, all of
     the Earth's land mass was
contained in one gigantic continent
which geologists today call Pangaea.
About 200 million years ago, this
gigantic continent began to break apart,
and the pieces began to drift toward
their present locations.
  While Pangaea existed, many species
were widely found because they
could move about and disperse
relatively freely. As the pieces of
Pangaea separated, however, the
organisms that inhabited them became
isolated from their relatives on other
continents and islands. Over time,
these species evolved in diverse ways
and produced varieties that might not
have survived had they needed to
compete with their close or distant
relatives. Consequently, the diversity of
species on Earth increased.
  About 500 years ago, the human
species began, in effect, to reconnect
the pieces of Pangaea through
worldwide shipping. More recently, rail
and air travel and faster and larger
sea-going vessels have brought together
species previously separated by oceans,
deserts,  mountains, and other barriers.
Historically, such breakdowns  of
barriers  between species occurred
gradually, over millions of years; now
the descendants  of the species  that
once inhabited Pangaea are being
reunited in the course of a few
centuries, even decades. (This graphic
picture of species exchanges was
painted  recently by Alfred Crosby in a
book called Ecological Imperialism
(New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1987).
Spiny Water Flea.
(Dr. Yount is an aquatic ecologisf at
EPA's Environmental Research
Laboratory in Duluth, Minnesota.]
                                                                               More than 30 years ago, Charles Elton
                                                                             wrote in The Ecology of Invasions by
                                                                             Animals and Plants (London: Chapman
                                                                             & Hall,  1958) of so-called "ecological
                                                                             explosions": enormous increases in the
                                                                             numbers of some kinds of introduced
                                                                             organisms. Ecological explosions, he
                                                                             observed, differ from other kinds of
                                                                             explosions in that they do not make
                                                                             loud noises and do not happen
                                                                             instantaneously—although they often
                                                                             make "quite a loud noise in the press."
                                                                             Elton wondered whether our awareness
                                                                             of these events was due merely  to a
                                                                             more efficient news service or \vhethei
                                                                             they really were becoming more
According  to estimates,
zebra mussels currently
filter all the water in Lake
St. Clair several times daily.
 common. He concluded that ecological
 explosions were in fact becoming more
 common. "We need to understand what
 is causing them," he wrote, "and try to
 arrive at some general viewpoint about
 the whole business."
   Within the last two years, many
 articles  have appeared about an
 "introduced species"  called the zebra
 mussel. The enormous feeding and
 reproductive capacities of this invading
 species  have led to its epidemic spread
 throughout the Great  Lakes, where in
 some areas it reportedly has reached
 population densities greater than
 30,000 individuals  per square meter.
 The mussel's spread to other freshwater
 systems throughout North America is
  The mussels have immediate
 economic impacts because they clog
 water-intake pipes. In addition, for the
 longer term, there is also considerable
 concern that the species may cause
 catastrophic changes in the ecology of
 North American fresh waters. Consider
 the example of Lake St. Clair—a small

connecting lake located between Lake
Erie and Lake Huron—which is heavily
infested with y.ebra mussels. According
to estimates, zebra mussels currently
filter aJJ the water in Lake St. Clair
several times daily. Zebra mussels can
out-compete many native bottom
organisms, and  in Lake St. Clair and
western Lake Erie, the mussels have
dramatically shunted the energy flow
away from fish  in the aquatic food web.
The spread of this mussel would mean
severe and dramatic consequences for
the ecological integrity of surface
waters as it causes major shifts in
food-web interactions and in the
movement  of nutrients and toxic
materials, and reduces the diversity  of
  How did this  situation come about?
At a recent EPA workshop in Saginaw,
Michigan, on introduced species,
Edward Mills reported on a study of
species invasions in the Great Lakes
which he and his colleagues had
conducted. The results indicated that
exotic species have been successfully
invading the Great Lakes since the early
1800s; no fewer than 115 different
species were  identified as having
succeeded  in establishing reproducing
  Although these invasions have been
occurring for at least two centuries, 46
percent of them took place after the
opening of the St. Lawrence; Seaway in
1959. Thirty-five percent of the exotic
species in the Great Lakes entered
through ship activities. Of this group of
40 species, 28 arrived in the ballast
water that unloaded ships carry for
stability when crossing the ocean to
pick up cargo.
  Ed Mills and  his colleagues reported
that these 115 non-native species
(which have had both positive and
negative impacts) include the alewife,
sea lamprey,  purple loosestrife (a
wetland plant), chinook salmon, the
spiny water flea, and the ruffe, as well
as the zebra mussel. Of these species,
the latter three were brought into the
Great Lakes through ballast water.
  The zebra mussel was present
throughout its native Europe before the
last glacial era, when it found refuge in
the Black and Caspian seas. From these
strongholds, it has recolonized Europe
not only by natural dispersion, but with
the help of merchant vessels and inland
waterways. Complete recolonization of
Europe  occurred about 160 years ago.
Thanks  to their natural predators and
parasites, /.ebra mussels generally have
not been a serious problem in Europe,
except in new or disturbed habitats
such as  reservoirs. In any case, modern
industry in Europe developed over the
years in the mussels' presence, thus
giving industry an opportunity to
accommodate gradually by building
infiltration and control systems.
  The spiny water flea (also known as
Bytholrephes cederstroernii, or BC)
probably entered the Great Lakes in
ballast water  from ships frequenting
European ports with low-salinity
harbors. According to Craig Sandgren at
the EPA-sponsored workshop on
introduced species, BC is native to
lakes in Europe, where it is typically a
minor component of the planktonic
community and therefore has been little
studied. It was first reported in
southern Lake Huron in 1984. It spread
east to Lakes  Erie and Ontario in 1985,
into Lake Michigan in 1986, and into
Lake Superior in 1987.
  Each Great  Lake has responded to BC
in a different  manner, probably as a
result of their different plankton-eating
fish communities. Whereas the zebra
mussel  has caused economic impacts
that are  easily measured, an assessment
of the impact of BC must wait until
fisheries or other ecosystems respond to
the food-web  alterations BC produces.
  The ruffe, a small member of the
perch family, is found in lakes,
slow-flowing  rivers, and canals
throughout Europe and across central
and northern  Asia. It has been recently
introduced to North America in ballast
water. At this time, it  has been reported
only from the western end of Lake
Superior, where it is becoming one of
the more abundant species. The ruffe
has little sport or  commercial value in
  Shippers and boaters are incurring extra
  expenses to have zebra mussels scraped
   off their hulls. The mussels also attach
     themselves in quantity to buoys and
    navigational aids.  Managing the zebra
  mussel and other exotic species will cost
                      millions of dollars.
its native habitat, where it preys on the
eggs of whitefish. Because it is very
prolific, the ruffe can rapidly dominate
other fish populations.
  With the possible exception of the
zebra mussel, the most serious
introduced-species problem in the
Great Lakes to date has been with the
sea lamprey. This species migrated
through the St. Lawrence Seaway into
Lake Ontario and became common
there in the 1800s. Niagara Falls
blocked its migration to the other Great
Lakes until the Welland Canal bypassed
the falls in 1829. By the late 1930s, sea
lampreys had spread throughout the
lakes and quickly devastated the lake
trout populations in Lakes Michigan
and Huron and much  of Lake Superior.
An intensive control program, using a
compound  (TFM) which selectively
kills sea lamprey larvae with minimal
effect on other organisms,  has reduced
the lamprey populations to about 5
percent of their previous levels.
However, continuous expensive and
labor-intensive effort is required to
keep the sea lamprey under control.
  Three of these examples—the zebra
      j. Howard McCormick, an aquatic
     biologist with EPA's Environmental
        Research Lab in Duluth, samples
 mussels on a recent Lake Erie trip made
    on the Coast Guard cutter Mariposa.
Zebra mussels winter well and appear to
 have few natural predators in the Great
                                                                                                       EPA JOURNAL

To maintain stability, ships without
cargo take on water from various ports
for ballast. When picking up cargo at
Great Lakes or other ports, they drain
the ballast water, as shown here.  Many
exotic species are believed to have
arrived from overseas in the Great Lakes
this way.
                                                  LePage photo AScI Corp
                                                                                 mussel, the spiny water flea, and the
                                                                                 ruffe—involve the transfer of species
                                                                                 between major pieces of the former
                                                                                 supercontinent Pangaea; the fourth
                                                                                 example, the sea lamprey, concerns the
                                                                                 removal of a natural barrier  to
                                                                                 dispersion. All four cases  illustrate the
                                                                                 range of problems that can arise when
                                                                                 species which have evolved in separate
                                                                                 parts of the world are brought together.
                                                                                 Other examples, such as the purposeful
                                                                                 introduction of rainbow trout or coho
                                                                                 salmon, although considered beneficial
                                                                                 by some fishermen, are looked upon
                                                                                 with suspicion by those who are
                                                                                 concerned about the natural integrity of
                                                                                   So what is the answer? Should we
                                                                                 accelerate the reuniting of Pangaea and
                                                                                 simply let the best competitors survive?
                                                                                 Most thoughtful  people say no.  Apart
                                                                                 from the problems involved, the world
                                                                                 would certainly be a much less
                                                                                 interesting place to live if  that were to
                                                                                 happen. Or should restrictions be
                                                                                 placed on the controllable routes of
                                                                                   A recent report by the International
                                                                                 Joint Commission and  the  Great Lakes
                                                                                 Fishery Commission (Exotic: Species
                                                                                 and the Shipping Industry, September
                                                                                 1990) concluded that "the discharge of
                                                                                 ballast water in the Great Lakes and
                                                                                 connected ... waters must become a
                                                                                 privilege granted only to ihose ships
                                                                                 that have taken reasonable and
                                                                                 acceptable precautions to prevent
                                                                                 ballast-borne introductions." Toward
                                                                                 this end, the Nonindigenous Aquatic
                                                                                 Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of
                                                                                 1990 requires that first voluntary
                                                                                 guidelines, then regulations be issued
                                                                                 to prevent the introduction and  spread
                                                                                 of aquatic-nuisance species into the
                                                                                 Great  Lakes through discharges of
                                                                                 ballast water. The act also  includes
                                                                                 provisions for further research
                                                                                 concerning introduced  species.
                                                                                   This new law should slow the mixing
                                                                                 of species among the pieces of Pangaea
                                                                                 while promoting scientific
                                                                                 understanding and minimizing the
                                                                                 impact of those invading species that
                                                                                 have already become established, n

An  Independent  Perspective
by William M. Eichbaurn
    Since the passage of the Federal
    Water Pollution Control Act
Amendments in 1972, substantial
progress has been made in addressing
the water pollution problems of the
nation. Rivers have been brought back
from degradation. Billions of gallons of
human sewage which received little
treatment are now rendered  almost
harmless to man by massive treatment
plants. Industrial discharges of metals
and organics have been reduced by as
much as 90 percent.
  Yet there is growing concern, as
evidenced by the recent report of EPA's
Science Advisory Board entitled
"Reducing Risk," that the ecological
integrity of few of the nation's great
water systems has been restored. The
Chesapeake Bay continues to
experience declines in oysters and
rockfish. Waterfowl of the Great Lakes
show substantial contamination by
organic chemicals. The great water
aquifers of the midwest, such as the
Ogallala, become less productive each
year. Lakes in the Rocky Mountains
have increasing levels  of acidification.
Irrigation practices in California
contaminate local ecological systems
and degrade the San Francisco Bay.
  The nation's effort, over the past 20
years, to protect the ecological integrity
of our hydrologic regimes  has produced
benefits, yet the natural resiliency of
these aquatic systems, upon which our
long-range well-being depends,
continues to decline. Where have we
gone wrong? Or, more significantly,
what  do we need to do in the future if
we are truly to protect the water
resources of the United States?
  Too often, efforts to  reverse the
degradation of water resources focus
only on the most obvious  symptom
rather than responding to  the complex
problems of an entire ecological system.
As a consequence, often there are
several  points of failure: Water quality
 (Eichbaum is Vice-President of World
 Wildlife Fund and The Conservation
improvements are limited, scarce
resources are spent inefficiently, or,
while quality improves, the abundance
of flora and fauna does not. This
fragmentary approach must be replaced
by an integrated management system
for water quality. Such a system would
consist of several elements.
  The first of these is pollution
abatement.  Efforts to reduce pollution
need to go beyond controlling pipes.
There is no question that point sources,
such as industrial discharges and
sewage-treatment plants, need to be
effectively regulated. And, in large part,
Too often, efforts to reverse
the degradation of water
resources focus only on the
most obvious symptom....
these sources have been well controlled
through expensive treatment facilities.
While there remain arguments about
ultimate levels of treatment  and about
degrees of compliance at these plants,
today the most significant uncontrolled
source of pollutants appears to be
nonpoint sources, such as runoff from
agriculture and developed land. In fact,
current estimates suggest that these
sources of pollution are actually more
important in degrading most water
bodies than are point sources.
  Unfortunately, there are few remedial
mechanisms which are demonstrably
effective for controlling these diffuse
sources. Accordingly, pollution
prevention will be increasingly
important for controlling
nonpoint-source pollution.
  For example, management practices
such as grass  filter strips and small
ponds appear to be largely ineffective
in reducing the runoff of nutrients from
farm fields. This means that pollution
must be prevented by allowing no more
nutrients to be applied to farm fields
than will be utilized by the crops being
grown. Fortunately, even for point
sources, preventing the discharge of
pollutants to treatment facilities, such
as through a ban on phosphates in
detergents, is highly cost effective.
  A second element of an integrated
management system would be land
management. The land-development
process is perhaps the single most
important activity which degrades
water quality and related ecological
values. As the construction of housing
and commercial and industrial facilities
destroys forests, covers the  land with  .
impermeable surfaces, and converts
wetlands, we lose an enormously rich
natural habitat which  depends on
interaction between land and water for
its biologic functioning. In addition,
this transformation of the land
fundamentally alters water  quality and
rates of flow, which results in the
degradation of both surface and ground
water. For example, the polluting
impact of runoff from housing
subdivisions can be many times that
from forests.
  If our society is to preserve the
richness of aquatic habitats, we need to
better manage our terrestrial activities
which are critical to their viability.
Controlling the location and nature of
development must be a central strategy
in protecting water regimes. Land
disturbance and concentrated
development of new communities
should be prevented at the  water's edge
since their destructive impacts cannot
be completely controlled with
structural or engineered techniques.
New development should be largely
confined  to areas where the existing
infrastructure has the  capacity  to
minimize environmental harm. Such
strategies have been adopted by several
states for their coastal zones and are
now urged upon the states under the
recently reauthorized  federal Coastal
Zone Management Act.
  The third element of our  management
system would be protection of living
resources. Too often we assume that
achieving compliance with  traditional
water quality standards will be
adequate to protect the flora and fauna
of the aquatic environment. This is
clearly false. Overharvesting and subtle
changes in the aquatic or terrestrial
habitat can result in the demise of
especially important species almost
                                                             EPA JOURNAL

What happens on the land is a major factor affecting what happens in
the water of many of the nation's great bays, rivers, and lakes. Heavy
development is common near many great water bodies, including San
Francisco Bay. Pictured is the East Bay shoreline, from Richmond to
Oakland, California.
without a regretful glance to the past.
  Careful plans must be laid for the
survival of species as part of an
environmental restoration strategy.
Many species are important to humans
for particular economic, cultural, or
other reasons and should be the subject
of protection programs. The states'
management of freshwater trout
fisheries is a pervasive example of such
protection. Other species are of less
obvious value, yet they play a role,
often subtle,  in the maintenance of
natural processes necessary for the
well-being of ecological systems. For
example, in the Chesapeake Bay. it has
been found that submerged aquatic
grasses are critical to the long-term
well-being of the bay because of their
nutrient-control functions. Thus,
nutrient-control programs which will
protect submerged grasses are emerging
as one of the most important
living-resource protection strategies.
  Lastly, institution  building is
necessary for filling  out our
management system. No natural system
can long survive or be  the subject of
intensive human efforts at restoration
unless there is a significant effort at
building the institutions necessary for
managing the human interaction with
the system. Institutions of governance
are built on political commitment, but
if they are to function successfully,
they require a wide range of inputs.
They must be adequately staffed, and
financial resources must be available.
There must be strong mechanisms for
public information and pathways for
the public to influence government.
Educating the public about the complex
requirements for protecting ecological
systems is necessary.
  Especially in the increasingly
difficult world of integrated
environmental management, the
problem of practicing good science  and
assuring that it is wisely used by
managers and policy makers deserves
serious attention. The science of
ecological management  is a great deal
more uncertain than the simple
problem of engineering a treatment
facility to produce an effluent to meet a
set of water quality standards. This
uncertainty places a  premium on good
communication between scientists and
managers and upon well-directed
research programs. These efforts need
to  reach beyond the physical, chemical,
and biological sciences into economics,
sociology, and related fields.  Finally, a
system of monitoring must be
established to measure success, or the
lack thereof, and allow for program
evolution and political accountability.
  Successful design of  a program based
on these elements of an integrated
management system  will require that
we give up thinking  of water pollution
problems in isolation. The causes of
water degradation are not accounted for
simply by the discharge of pollutants

directly to the water from either point
or nonpoint sources. Pollutants come
from a complex set of sources,
including such unlikely culprits as auto
emissions transported through the air
or changes in hydrologic regimes
resulting from forest destruction or
  Thus, the nature of the water, land,
and air throughout the entire
watershed, and even beyond,
determines the quality of water and the
well-being of associated flora and fauna
in a particular body. Understanding
and protecting the ecological
connectedness of these complex
interrelationships in an integrated
fashion is crucial. Not only must our
management efforts be oriented to the
complexities of the four elements
which have been outlined, but these
elements must be applied throughout
the often extensive geographic area of a
watershed. The crucial role of the
watershed—its hydrologic as well as
terrestrial and atmospheric
components—quickly leads to the
                                       recognition that the use of the land
                                       throughout the watershed is perhaps
                                       the single most important determinant
                                       of water quality in the receiving aquatic
                                       system will be.
                                         Political will lies at the heart of a
                                       strategic aquatic restoration and
                                       Pollution prevention will be
                                       increasingly important for
                                       controlling nonpoint-source
                                       protection program that is based on
                                       managing an entire watershed. The
                                       multiple challenges of complex
                                       decisions, participation by many
                                       sectors of society, and requirements for
                                       substantial resources can be
                                       successfully met only when there is
                                       powerful leadership. Manifestation of
                                       such political will is altogether too rare.
                                       Consequently, many of the nation's
great water bodies are facing a long
tortured process of decline. The few
exceptions suggest several factors
which drive such  leadership in the
environmental context: dramatic
illustrations of the problem, like the
die-off of a species; a big event, such as
completion of a study; an emotional
appeal, such as a popular book or song;
adverse economic consequences, like
the loss of a fishery; and, perhaps most
important, growing public demands.
  The nation's great water systems
remain threatened. Isolated "hot spots"
have been corrected, but the central
function of our aquatic regimes as a
vital  source of the environmental
stability and well-being of our society
seems to be poorly understood, and
fundamental protection remains  absent.
Fragmentary approaches will no longer
work. The future of water quality
protection in the United States must be
based on a holistic system derived from
good science and implemented through
a comprehensive system of protective
strategies, a
                                                          ^J."       •  ^wflBT"-' >  •  '.-  %
                                                          ^-** ~ -  -A ..           ' -*-.  - -- .
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                                                       -  **.
Cold water doesn't deter beachgoers from recreation at Popham  Beach on the Gulf of
Maine. Growing public demand for clean recreational water across the United States
may help force a comprehensive system of protective strategies.
                                                                                           '-     ,.-;-.**_.,
                                                                                             -*  V:  '     '
                                                                                              *            • •
                                                                                                      Chns Ayres photo
                                                                                                        EPA JOURNAL

Environmental  Success
by Steve Glomb
 People want direct answers to questions as to whether water is safe
 for recreation and other uses. EPA is working on improved methods
 for measuring changes in water quality.
                                                                        How healthy are the nation's great
                                                                        water bodies? The question
                                                                    suggests the story of the blind men who
                                                                    were asked to describe an elephant.
                                                                    One touched the elephant's leg and
                                                                    said it was like the trunk of a tree.
                                                                    Another said it was like a wall, after
                                                                    touching its side. Those who could
                                                                    only touch the trunk or the tail
                                                                    believed the elephant to be a hose or a
                                                                    rope. Everything depends on
                                                                      Likewise, answers to questions about
                                                                    the health of our nation's water bodies
                                                                    often are based on different
                                                                    perspectives and sometimes fail to
                                                                    paint a complete picture. In the past,
                                                                    many of our reports to Congress and
                                                                    the public on the health of our waters
                                                                    have  revolved around numerical
                                                                    accounting—"bean-counting," to use
                                                                    the common parlance. Such accounting
                                                                    measures  are administrative surrogates
                                                                    for true environmental measurements
                                                                    and describe only part of the elephant.
                                                                    As a result, EPA and the states can
                                                                    readily tell the world how  much money
                                                                    we've spent on various programs, how
                                                                    many permits or grants we've cranked
                                                                    out, how often we've taken bad guys to
                                                                    court, and how many  water-quality
                                                                    criteria and standards we've written
                                                                    and reviewed.
                                                                      In several areas we have made real
                                                                    progress, moving beyond administrative
                                                                    beans to measure the amounts and
                                                                    kinds of pollutants entering the water.
                                                                    We can now estimate  pollution loads
                                                                    coming into the Great Lakes or other
                                                                    coastal areas; for many water bodies,
                                                                    we can estimate the local proportions
                                                                    coming from pipes, from nonpoint
                                                                    sources, and from rainfall.  For example,
                                                                    phosphate loadings into the Chesapeake
                                                                    Bay and the Great Lakes have been cut
                                                                    dramatically due to improvements in
                                                                    sewage-treatment plants and new
                                                                    programs  to control nonpoint sources.
                                                                    EPA's new Toxic Release Inventory
                                                                    gives us a benchmark against which we
                                                                    may be able to gauge future loadings.
                                                                      But how can we describe the real
                                                                    environmental effects  of decreased
                                                                    pollutant loads? Can I swim there? Can
(GJomb is a biologist in EPA's Office of
Marine and Estuarine Protection.)

I eat the fish? Are the oysters safe to
eat? These are the questions the public
asks. Kcologists go a step further and
ask about biodiversity, or biological
community structure, or habitat quality.
In addition, the public is asking how
effective are all the program
expenditures, the standards, and the
permits if people can't eat the fish.
Before finding answers, we need to
agree on the questions.
  EPA is now asking itself many of the"
same critical questions. Consensus is
growing in scientific and regulatory
communities that administrative and
pollution-loading measures are not
enough—that often they don't tell us
beans, so to speak, about what's really
happening in the environment.
  The  Science Advisory Board recently
called  for greater ecological focus in
KPA's  programs. Administrator Reilly
and Deputy Administrator Habicht are
also pressing for better long-term
strategic planning  that would reflect a
stronger emphasis  on  measuring and
reporting environmental results of
Agency programs,  not just
administrative milestones.
  The  framework for the Office of
Water's strategic plan reflects these big
issues  now in  the mind of both the
public and EPA. The plan lays out
several long-term ecological  goals for
the nation's water  resources. Among
the goals for the Great Lakes and our
estuaries are:
• To increase the number of shellfish
bods open for harvest

• To decrease the  number of fishing
bans and health advisories

• To decrease the  extent of low-oxygen
"dead  /.ones"

• To maintain, and increase if feasible,
the extent and productivity of critical
habitats, especially wetlands

• To maintain the biotic integrity of
invertebrate and fish communities.

  Not  surprisingly, progress toward
some of these  goals is harder to
measure than others. Counting the
number or measuring the area of open
or closed shellfish beds is relatively
easy. State and local governments
regularly measure bacteria
concentration  in water near  shellfish
beds, then classify the beds as being
open for harvest or restricted, based on
standard national guidelines. The
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) summarizes
these harvest classifications  in the
National Shellfish  Register, published
everv five years.
  Although measuring may be easy,
understanding what the changes in
numbers mean is not. While the
standards are uniform, monitoring
efforts vary widely from state to state.
NOAA and  EPA are working to
improve monitoring methods and
reduce some of the monitoring
  Similarly, bans and advisories
concerning fisheries are easy to
Before finding answers,  we
need to agree on  the
quantify. But interpreting what changes
in those numbers mean is difficult. A
greater management emphasis on
decreasing the health  risks from  eating
fish would likely result in a short-term
rise in the number of  fish advisories, fit
is a truism that any time you look hard
for problems, you can usually find
some.) But continuing emphasis  on fish
advisories over the long term should
eventually lead to a decrease in toxics
loadings, lower levels of toxic
contamination in fish, and  a downturn
in the number of bans and  advisories.
Knowing when to look for results,
combined with a sense of what results
to expect, is important when evaluating
information on environmental health.
  Measuring oxygen or defining  "dead
zones" also is relatively simple, but the
choice of assessment methods depends
on geographic scale. Using a probe that
continually measures  oxygen
concentration can be very helpful to
someone assessing the local influence
of a suspected pollution source, but no
one can afford to put such probes
everywhere. On  a bay-wide or a
regional scale, reports of massive fish
die-offs may be the most useful
indicator. On a national scale, satellite
data may provide environmental
managers with the best picture.
  Satellite data and aerial photography
also have proved useful in measuring
the amount of wetlands and other
critical habitats lost over the past few
decades. For example, using these
resources, Louisiana estimates that its
coastal wetlands have been
disappearing at the rate of 35 square
miles per year. The health of the
remaining critical habitats, including
created  habitats built to mitigate  losses,
is much more difficult to measure. By
1996, research by EPA, the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, and states should
lead to development of methods  for
evaluating the health of habitats.
(Species diversity and productivity are
two of the most promising research
  Biological community interactions
are probably the most difficult goals to
measure. Many scientists, however,
think that these interactions are the
most important factor to assess.
Especially important are the
invertebrates that live in the mud at the
bottom of our coastal waters. Because
they don't move much, they can be
used as an indication of problems over
time. Measuring fish communities can
be confusing  because of their migration
patterns. A fish may get contaminated
in one estuary, then move along the
coast and eventually become part of a
sample in a clean estuary. Commercial
fish harvests and sport fishing also
confound analyses of the fish
  Even among scientists, there is debate
about what index to measure in
particular instances and how to
measure it. For fresh water, EPA has
developed a set of community
bioassessment protocols. These
protocols comprise  a set of  methods
that assess richness or diversity,
dominance, ratios of pollution-tolerant
to pollution-sensitive organisms, and
comparative ratios of organisms with
different feeding strategies.  These
factors, when examined together, paint
a much more complete picture of
ecological health than any single factor.
  As an illustration, consider each of
two stream sites with very similar
physical characteristics and  a sample of
100 critters from each. The  first stream
site has critters from 10 families, 10
organisms each. The second also has
individual organisms from 10 families,
but what if 50 are from one family with
the rest split fairly evenly between the
other nine families? Both streams have
the same richness (10  families), but are
the sites equally healthy? Generally, a
community like the one at the  second
site, dominated by relatively few
families, indicates environmental stress.
Further examination of the proportions
of filter-feeding organisms, organisms
that scrape or scavenge for food, and
those that shred  leaves would give
      Because mud-dwelling in.
      don't move around much, they
      useful indicators o!
      bottom o:         'al waters. Drawing
      depicts a healthy community :
      beneath intertidal flats.
                                                                                                         EPA JOURNAL

further insight into the types of stresses
  This type of approach has been
readily accepted by many states and
incorporated as an integral  piece of
water-quality protection programs. The
Agency is now beginning to examine
various approaches for assessing
communities in estuarine and coastal
waters. After discussions this winter to
narrow the list of potential  methods,
EPA should begin field validation tests
in the spring, perhaps leading to results
in three to four years.
  Until coastal ecological interactions
are well understood and  integrated
assessments are fully developed and
tested, we probably will need to rely  on
studies of individual species. Usually
the species used as indicators are either
extremely sensitive organisms or
commercially important ones. They are
the coastal equivalent of  a canary in a
coal  mine: Changes in these species can
signal changes in the overall
environment. For example,  declines in
underwater plants in Chesapeake  Bay
over several decades was one of the key
changes that helped state and federal
legislators focus on the need to  protect
the bay. Increases in the number of fish
with lesions and fin rot led the  Puget
Sound estuary program to concentrate
on controlling sources of toxic
pollutants to its urban bays.
  Researchers  at EPA laboratories in
Gulf Breeze, Florida, and Narragansett,
Rhode Island, are examining
early-warning signals, "biomarkers," in
individual species. Biomarkers reflect
the effect of pollutant stress on the
chemistry and physiology of the
individual organism. Pollution-induced
changes in the blood chemistry,
enzyme production, or other internal
systems can affect the organism's
ability to grow, respire, or reproduce.
Such responses are akin to changes in
human physiology. Doctors call for
blood tests to examine sick patients;
they don't wait until an entire
community is infected before
determining there's a  problem. These
changes in aquatic individuals may also
help in detecting early responses to
improvements in the environment. But
more research is needed to link such
changes to an entire population.
  Even knowing what to assess, and
how and when to measure it, may not
be enough. Many other factors can
figure into EPA's interpretations of
data. One is the ever-increasing
population near  the Great Lakes  and
other coastal  waters. Maintaining the
status quo despite the increased
pollution potential from the higher
population may be a big programmatic
success, even though there may be no
marked improvement  in the critters,
Natural variability and fluctuations
over time are difficult factors  to
understand. The influence of a couple
of very hot seasons, or extremely heavy-
rains, could mask bona fide progress
made in  protective efforts.
Understanding such natural variability
is one of the goals of our current
  In order to paint a comprehensive
national  picture, two differing
approaches will be used to measure
ecological health and  progress. The
Ecological Monitoring and Assessment
Program  (EMAP) currently being
developed should prove useful in
presenting a broad, nationwide
assessment.  At the same time,
information  compiled from monitoring
studies by various state and  National
Estuary Program environmental
managers will help fill in details of the
national  picture.
  A marriage of the EMAP's broad,
top-down national picture with the
more detailed, bottom-up view
described above will produce a
composite portrait that will give the
Agency a much clearer picture of the
health of the nation's waters than either
approach alone. Combining both
approaches will also enable the Agency
to better  focus its money and people
and more effectively target the most
important problems and geographic:
areas. In  doing so, we should be able to
avoid the predicament of the blind men
and the elephant. D
                                                                                Drawing adapted fiom an illustration by Alice Jane Lippson

Looking  Forward
in  the  Office  of  Water
by LaJuana S. Wilcher
"Jf you have built castles in the air,
your work need nol be lost; (hat is
where (hey should be. Now pul (he
foundations under (hem."
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden
      We all want pure, clean water. The
      farmer, the factory worker, the
family on  the beach. Pure water to
drink, healthy aquatic ecosystems to
nurture fish and wildlife,
uncontaminated water to grow our
crops, sustain our livestock, and
support our industries.
  EPA has been working diligently
toward these goals for the last 20 years.
With the passage of the Clean Water
Act in 1972, we began to address water
quality problems comprehensively. In
1970, when the Agency was created, we
were faced with immense quantities of
pollution from industry and municipal
sewage treatment plants.  Although  we
had  little in the way of sophisticated
scientific evidence at the time, many of
the problems were obvious  enough:
untreated  sewage in the Potomac River
and  Boston Harbor, toxic industrial
waste in the Mississippi, Ohio, and
Cuyahoga  rivers, massive red and green
tides (algae blooms) in Lake Erie, and
quickly declining fish and shellfish
populations in the Chesapeake Bay. At
that  time,  all we really had  to do was
look; the problems were evident to our
eves and noses.
 (Wilcher is KPA's Assistant
 Administrator for Water.)
                                        Water—a living resource. Protect it, and
                                        benefit from it.
  Through the municipal wastewater
construction grants program, the federal
government contributed $48 billion and
large amounts of technical assistance to
help states and municipalities stop the
dreadful practice of using our rivers,
lakes, and coastal waters as open
sewers. The number of people in the
United States served by secondary or
higher levels of sewage treatment rose
from 85 million in 1972 to 176 million
in 1988. Significant unmet needs still
exist, especially the need to upgrade
and replace wastewater-treatment
facilities. Because this program's focus
is changing, we are in the process of
moving toward state-run loan programs.
  EPA recently has given another $12
billion to states to capitalize a new
State Revolving Fund Program for
municipal wastewater-treatment
facilities and other water quality
improvements. To control industrial
discharges, KPA has promulgated
technology-based effluent guidelines
(limits) for a variety of  industrial
categories and implemented a
water-quality standards  program with
the states.
  Our efforts to issue permits and
firmly to  enforce infractions of the law
have led to partial  recovery of several
severely degraded waters, including the
Potomac River and Lake Erie. Only 36
percent of the waters states assessed in
1972 met their designated uses; the
most recent data reported by the states
in 1988 showed 70 percent of the
assessed waters met their designated
use requirements.
  Today, significant pollution problems
come from literally millions of
"diffuse" or "nonpoint" sources. Rain
water and snow-melt runoff from urban
and suburban areas, farms, mining
operations and industrial sites are often
laced with pesticides, heavy metals,
and excess nutrients. Toxic pollutants
are still a major concern, especially
those that do not biodegrade. These
toxics become trapped in the bottom
sediments of rivers, lakes,  and coastal
waters or accumulate  in the flesh of
fish, shellfish, other wildlife, and,
ultimately, in humans.
  Clearly we have more work to do,
and we need new approaches to do it.
No longer can we use just  an
end-of-the-pipe approach. No longer
can we look only to industry and
municipalities as sources of our waters'
contamination. No longer can we limit
our efforts to cleaning up our great
water bodies after we  have fouled them.
No longer can we relegate  protection of
our ecosystems to the bottom of our
agenda. No longer can we operate our
water programs in isolation from each
other and other EPA programs.
  As the famous conservationist Aldo
Leopold wrote almost 50 years ago,
"Instead of learning more and more
                                                                                                   EPA JOURNAL


EPA Documenca photo National Archives
                                                 improvements in
                                                 water quality
                                                 have been madg
                                                 since the Clean
                                                 Water Act was
                                                 passed in 1972,
                                                 when detergent
                                                 foam on  the
                                                 nation's rivers
                                                 was a common
                                                 sight. Step by
                                                 step, the
                                                 clean-up effort is
                                                 gaining new
                                                 and framing new
                                                 strategies to
                                                 meet today's
about less and less, we must learn more
and more about the whole biotic
landscape." We must look broadly and
comprehensively to identify our water
quality problems and act boldly to
prevent pollution and habitat
  The foundations for achieving our
water-quality goals rest upon several
new approaches.

Ecological Protection

First, we must place the protection of
ecosystems on the  same footing as
human health. Last September, the:
Science Advisory Board (SAB) issued a
thought-provoking document entitled
Reducing Risk: Setting Priorilies and
Strategies for Environmental Protection.
The report says,  "EPA's  response to
human health risks as compared to
ecological risks is inappropriate,
because, in the real world, there is  little
distinction between the  two. Over the
long term, ecological degradation either
directly or indirectly degrades human
health and the economy."
  The Clean Water Act has long been
the most ecologically focused of our
major environmental statutes. Since the
1987 Amendments to the Clean Water
Act, water programs have emphasized
controlling chemical impacts in
response to public  concerns about
toxics. Physical impacts, including

Nonpoint source pollution
control. By planting
alternating strips of corn and
small grain, this Maryland
farmei  helps prevent erosion
and runoff into nearby
streams which flow into the
Chesapeake Bay.
habitat destruction from urbanization,
farming, dam construction, diversion,
irrigation, stream channelization, and
intense recreation have garnered little
attention until recently.
  The SAB report has served as a
catalyst for our thinking about our
programs and how we view our
mission. The Clean Water Act instructs
us to protect the chemical, biologicaJ,
and physical integrity of our nation's
water resources (emphasis added). We
need to view the  integrity of the water
environment holistically—the sum total
of the complex chemical, biological,
and physical dynamics necessary to
sustain the ecological integrity of
healthy aquatic ecosystems.
  As Indian Chief Seattle said in 1854,
"All things are connected like the blood
which unites one family. All things are
connected." We are beginning to
develop the scientific tools necessary to
protect ecological systems on a holistic
basis.  No longer is it  enough for us to
concentrate on water chemistry; we
must move beyond the stream banks to
consider the interrelationships between
all parts of the ecosystem.
Geographic Targeting

In order to accomplish this broader goal
of protecting  all aspects of the nation's
waters,'we believe geographically
targeting some of our resources to those
areas most at risk is vital to
accomplishing our task.
  In the past, our systems for
controlling pollution were focused on
national standards for industries and
sewage-treatment facilities. In order to
fully address ecosystem integrity, and
in order to get the most
"bang-for-the-buck,"  we must turn our
attention to individual watersheds and
ecosystems. In addressing the gross
pollution  problems of the past (which
were common to virtually all our
waters), we have uncovered  a range of
problems  which tend to be unique to
individual watersheds. For instance,
the current problems of the Chesapeake
Bay (primarily extensive dead zones
caused by excess  nutrients) are far
different from those of the Great Lakes
(primarily toxic hot spots, and toxic
pollutants in  fish and other wildlife).
Because of the potentially high costs,
complexity, and difficulty of the
measures  which are necessary to
achieve ecological protection, we must
target our efforts to those watersheds
that are most at risk, most threatened,
and most  valuable—in ecological
terms—to the country.
                                                                                                    EPA JOURNAL

                                                     William C Franr photo
                                                                    Even on a dry summer day, this storm
                                                                    sewer outlet oozes its outflow across a
                                                                    Staten Island beach and into the ocean.
                                                                    Control of urban stormwater runoff is
                                                                    one  of the clean-up tasks society faces.
Restructuring for the Future

To better reflect the changes in our
approach to protecting water resources,
we are proposing to reorganize our
Headquarters office to reflect our focus
on better science, ecological protection,
and geographic targeting. To this end,
we are contemplating a structure that
will help integrate all of our functions
to focus on addressing the unique
problems of individual water resources,
and to strengthen our emphasis on
scientific and technical support of
regional, state and local
decisionmakers. We are now
considering many suggestions  from
EPA staff and managers as we  prepare
to send this ambitious  proposal into
formal Agency review.

The Clean Water Act Reauthorization

As we approach 1992,  we must
consider how to approach the
reauthorization of the Clean Water Act.
We have designed a three-phased
process to gain  the best thinking from
all relevant sectors of society. In Phase
1, we are holding informal meetings
with a broad spectrum of individuals
and groups, including state and local
water quality managers, agricultural
interests, environmental groups,
industry representatives, natural
resource economists, and others. Phase
2 is devoted to culling the best ideas
and options from these conversations
and other sources and presenting them
in background papers. In Phase 3, we
will hold a series of symposia with
experts on four aspects of clean water:

•  "The Risks to Clean Water" (relative
remaining risks to water resources)

•  "The Cost of Clean Water" [economic
incentives, funding issues)

•  "The Structure of Clean Water"
(necessary changes to the Clean Water

•  "The Feasibility of Clean Water"
(economic and political realities).

These symposia will be open to the
public and will encourage their
participation. Our goal is to  gather
information from a wide range of
interests  to better prepare us for the
reauthorization process.
Foundations for the Future

As we move toward the 21st century,
federal,  state, and local water programs
must be prepared to address the most
pressing water resource problems. If \ve
are ever to do more than just keep pace
with growing threats, we must be
willing to change our programs to best
fit the most significant  remaining risks.
We must be prepared to go beyond our
present  chemical focus to protect the
full range of values that make up
chemical, physical, and biological
  Additionally, we must improve our
ability to target our efforts to the most
serious risks or threats  to our most
valuable water resources. Clearly these
are lofty goals, but ones we can
achieve. We have a solid foundation of
programs and people to build toward
our dreams of safe water for all,
whether fish, fowl, or people.
throughout our country, Q

  Patrick M. Tobin is the new
  Deputy Regional
  Administrator for Region 4,
  which is headquartered in
  Atlanta, Georgia.
    Tobin is a charter member
  of EPA. He joined the Agency
  as a Sanitary Engineer for the
  Office of Research and
  Monitoring in 1970. Since
  that time, he has worked in
  the Office of Water as Deputy
  Director and  Director of the
  Criteria and Standards
  Division in the Office of
  Drinking Water. Since 1986,
  he has served as the Director
  of the Waste Management
  Division in Atlanta.
    He has been a member of
  many of EPA's National
  Committees and Task Forces,
  has testified for the Agency
  before Congress, and has
  represented EPA
  internationally in Japan,
  India, the Netherlands, and
    Tobin earned a bachelor's
  degree in civil engineering at
  the University of Maryland in
  1962. Following a tour as an
  officer in the Air Force, he
  earned a master's degree in
  environmental engineering at
  the University of Maryland in
The new Regional
Administrator for Region 10
in Seattle, Washington, is
Dana Rasmussen,
  Rasmussen was Assistant
Vice President  and  Chief
Counsel of Federal  Relations
for U.S. West, a
telecommunications firm
which  she joined in 1985.
She was a General Attorney
for Pacific Northwest Bell
Telephone Company in
Portland, Oregon, from 1979
to 1985.
  A Portland native,
Rasmussen received a
bachelor's degree in
psychology from Stanford
University in 1968. In  1977
she earned her law degree
from the University of Oregon
School of Law. She also is a
graduate of Stanford Business
School's Executive  Program.
  She was an Administrative
Law Section Chair of the
Ratemaking Committee for
the American Bar Association
from 1989 to 1990,  and is
involved in numerous outside
community and public
service activities.
Albert H, Schilling has been
named the new Associate
Assistant Administrator for
the Office of Policy, Planning,
and Evaluation. Schilling
joined the Agency in 1985 as
a Special Assistant for
Legislative Development after
working in the private sector
for 14 years. In his five years
with the Agency, Schilling
has also served as
Supervisory Attorney Advisor
and Director of the Office of
Legislative Analysis.
  Schilling received his
bachelor's degree in
economics from Harvard in
1967 and his master's in
history from Princeton in
1971. He earned a law degree
from Rutgers Law School in
  He received the Special Act
or Service Award in 3983 and
an EPA Bronze medal in
The new Deputy Associate
Administrator for the Office
of Communications and
Public Affairs is Carl S.
Gagliardi.   Gagliardi
worked for EPA from 1983 to
1986 as a Press Officer and
Deputy Director of the Press
Division before transferring to
the Department of the
Interior, where he served as a
Special Assistant in the
Secretary's office, and
subsequently as Director of
Public Affairs for the Bureau
of Reclamation. He left the
government to work  with a
Washington-based public
relations firm before
returning to EPA as Special
Assistant and Director of
Communications Strategy  in
  Gagliardi graduated from
the University of Maryland at
College Park with a
bachelor's degree in
government and politics in
  Several other appointments
recently have been made in
the Office of Communications
and Public Affairs, including
Charles Osolin as Director of
Publications; John Kasper as
Press  Director; Hank Roden
as Director of Special
Projects; Helga Butler as
Director of the
Communications Strategy
Staff;  Nanci Martin as Deputy
Press  Director; and Chris Rice
as Special Assistant to the
Associate Administrator, a
                                                                                                          EPA JOURNAL

The nation's great water
bodies—a treasure for all
seasons. Photo of Lake
Michigan from Door
County, Wisconsin, by
Mike Brisson.

Back Cover:  San
Francisco Bay, a major
West Coast estuary. See
article on page  20. Photo
by Jerry Derbyshire.