The EPA seeks stricter pollution standards and a national water quality assessment.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a draft version of its clean water strategy on Friday and is allowing public comments on the document through September 17.
The draft document, “Coming Together for Clean Water,” outlines a broad strategy for improving water quality. The EPA plans to strengthen water pollution regulations under the Clean Water Act and complete a comprehensive scientific assessment of the country’s water bodies.
Though it lacks quantitative targets, the document suggests stricter pollution standards pertaining to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System and an expansion of stormwater discharge permits.
Other areas of focus include minimizing loss of aquatic life from cooling water intake structures, evaluating the effects of mining on water supplies, protecting rivers and lakes from invasive species as well as reducing sewer overflows. To gain a better baseline understanding of national water quality, the EPA will also complete a series of five Aquatic Resource Surveys in the next several years.
The Chesapeake Bay has been identified as an area of particular concern because of President Obama’s Executive Order calling on the federal government to lead the bay’s restoration effort. Possible actions include stronger total maximum daily load regulations, markets for water quality trading and regulations for reducing excess nutrient runoff.
The EPA also identifies the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico as other water bodies of national significance and would like to apply a similar program in those areas.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton