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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Fly Fishers Federation President's Banquet, Livingston, Montana

08/07/2002
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
Fly Fishers Federation President = s Banquet
Livingston, Montana

August 7, 2002


Thank you, Greg (Pitts).

I am delighted to be here tonight among sportsmen and sportswomen who share my joy in America= s great outdoors. It's especially nice when I get to spend a day on the yellowstone and call it work.

Like you, I do a little fly fishing from time to time. I know firsthand the tremendous thrill of the catch. But I = m equally familiar with the quiet serenity of nature = s incredible beauty. In other words, sometimes I get lucky, and sometimes I get skunked.

A In my family, there was no clear division between religion and fly fishing. @ Now, that = s a memorable line from a memorable movie.

But as someone else once said, A There = s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot. @ I like to think that I = m with all of you on the correct side of that line. I also like knowing that we stand together for the preservation and protection of America = s waterways.

A United by a Common Thread, @ the men and women of the Fly Fishers Federation and its member organizations boast a profound appreciation for the rivers, streams, creeks, and channels that carry the lifeblood of this nation. And I know you = re working to protect them.

From Spring Creek in Washington to Winkley Shoals in Arkansas to Beaver Creek in Maryland, the Federation has been a dynamic partner in safeguarding our natural heritage. I salute you and everyone who supports the Federation = s efforts. I applaud your commitment to ensure that our children and grandchildren not only have clean water to drink but also have the chance to find their own favorite fishing hole. Filling your shoes B or stepping into your waders B they can then discover for themselves what the Federation and this International Fly Fishing Center celebrate so wonderfully.

As you may know, Congress declared 2002 A The Year of Clean Water. @ On October 18 B the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act B you can join EPA, America = s Clean Water Foundation, and scores of other agencies and groups as participants in National Water Monitoring Day.

We will be taking a snapshot look at streams, lakes, and coastal waters throughout the country. Volunteer monitors will help federal, state, tribal, and local monitoring programs determine where we are in terms of water quality on a site-specific basis. They will test for four key water-quality factors B temperature, pH, clarity, and dissolved oxygen.

I = m pleased to say that the Federation is among the 3,500 groups listed in the online database for EPA= s A Adopt Your Watershed Program. @ We will be looking to you and other groups to help us focus greater public attention on the condition of America = s watersheds and make National Water Monitoring Day a huge success.

We already know that our waterways are cleaner than they were 30 years ago. You can now fish in many lakes and rivers where once garbage was the only catch-of-the-day B everyday.

In the news just this week, you may have read a story about incredible swarms of mayflies. Because of cleaner waters in the Mississippi River and elsewhere, the mayflies have been swarming, mating, and dying in numbers that haven = t been equaled in 50 years.

In some places, the swarms of mayflies have been so big and thick, they = ve been showing up on radar. Dying after only a day, the flies have been causing quite a slippery mess on town streets and sidewalks.

As for fly fishing, you can just forget about trying to convince a trout that your fly is any tastier than the ten of thousands of other flies suddenly now on the menu.

But for those who know about the health of our waterways, the news is good. The clouds of mayflies are a clear indication that efforts to rid area lakes and streams of pollution are making a big difference.

Not only are waterways across the country cleaner but more than 168,000 water systems deliver clean, safe drinking water to millions of Americans daily. Clearly, however, there= s lot of work still to be done. In fact, I strongly believe water-quality and water-quantity issues will pose the greatest environmental challenges of the 21 st century. I also believe that the public B not government B will have to play the pivotal role in meeting these challenges.

Nonpoint source pollution B pollution that is created miles away from where it ends up B poses the biggest threat to America = s water quality today. Down the streams you fish B and into our drinking water infrastructure B can flow a variety of pollutants that originate in the runoff from city streets, rural farms, and suburban lawns.

That is why we can = t simply look at the end of a particular pipe. We must examine practices in entire watersheds and see how they affect water quality throughout those watersheds. We must take a holistic approach to managing our water use through efficient strategies, conservation and reuse, and better coordination with local planning.

In addition, we must continue to enforce our clean water laws so that those who obey the law and meet their obligations to the environment are not, in effect penalized, for doing the right thing. This Administration is committed to using all the tools available to it to make America = s water purer.

That = s why the President = s FY 2003 budget proposal for the state drinking water and clean water revolving funds is the largest combined request in history B $2.1 billion. And that = s on top of the $1 billion requested for other EPA water-quality programs.

But money from Washington is not enough. We must harness the power of the public.

Educating Americans about their individual and collective impacts on water quality remains essential. We all live downstream from someone. All of us must recognize that even small actions B like changing our oil in the driveway without cleaning up B can add up to big environmental consequences. In fact, most oil pollution in our coastal waters comes from nonpoint sources. Every eight months, these sources discharge as much oil into American waters as did the Exxon Valdez spill.

I = m glad to say that we enjoy President Bush = s strong support for a watershed initiative that will build partnerships among government, industry, and the public. Modeled on the A Clean Charles 2005 Initiative @ in the Boston area, the initiative will focus on 20 of America = s most important watersheds. And our success in identifying solutions for each watershed based on its unique needs will depend in large part on participation by informed, involved citizens.

I hope that the Federation = s member organizations across the country will look for opportunities to support our watershed initiative. And I hope each of you will work in your communities to promote greater public awareness about the importance of pollution prevention and water conservation.

The protection of our environment is everyone = s job. A connection with nature can be everyone = s joy. It may not be a religion, but those who love fly fishing are surely blessed with a special appreciation for nature and its wonders. Let = s work together to safeguard our watersheds and ensure that, when we find our own little piece of heaven on earth, a clean river runs through it.

Thank you.