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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

INTERNATIONAL PARK ON THE MAUMEE RIVER

07/12/1996
                         Carol M. Browner

Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency International Park on the Maumee River

                            Toledo, OH

                      Prepared for Delivery
                         July 12, 1996


It is a pleasure to join local government and community leaders here today at this wonderful park.

The people of Toledo recognize the importance of clean, safe water -- for the public's health, for the environment, and for the
economy. You have come together to protect your community by protecting your water -- citizens, government, business and
community leaders working together to keep raw sewage out of the river, to keep agricultural pollution out of the water, to
keep industrial pollution out of the water, to clean up landfills and toxic waste dumps so they do not contaminate your water.


EPA has worked with the people of Toledo to protect your water. In 15 years, we provided more than $120 million to the
Toledo metropolitan area to keep raw sewage out of the water. And together we have made progress.


I am very pleased that just last week, we announced that EPA will provide an award of $500,000 to clean up a tributary to
the Ottawa River. The grant will be awarded to Ohio EPA to clean up a "hot spot" -- a place where sediment in the water is
highly contaminated with PCBs -- one of the most significant and difficult problems for water quality in the Great Lakes
region.


This important project will benefit Maumee Bay and Lake Erie. The lessons learned will serve as a model for other Great
Lakes states. With this project, the people of Toledo will both protect their own community and make a significant
contribution to restoring and protecting the Great Lakes as a whole -- a magnificent national treasure and the source of
drinking water for 23 million people.


As you continue to take action to protect your water, you will continue to see the benefits -- for the public's health, for the
environment, for the economy.


EPA recently released a report that demonstrates beyond a doubt that clean, safe water is essential to the health of our
communities and our nation's economy. Clean water is a boon to the nation's economy, not a drain. Clean water brings
billions of dollars into our economy each year.


We do not have to choose between our health and our jobs. Economic prosperity and environmental protection go hand in
hand. A healthy economy begets a healthier environment; a healthy environment -- a stronger economy.


EPA's national report, entitled Liquid Assets, is the first report to the American public detailing how key economic sectors
rely on clean water for their economic health.


The report finds that beaches, rivers and lakes are the number one vacation choice for Americans today -- and that every
year, Americans take more than 1.8 billion trips to water destinations -- places like this park -- for fishing, swimming,
boating, or relaxation. Recreation and tourism -- much of which happens around the water -- is a $380 billion industry and
the nation's second largest employer, employing 6 million Americans. Sportfishing -- including your annual walleye run here
on the Maumee River -- generates $69 billion annually for our economy.


Clean water is of vital importance to agriculture and to commercial fishing. Clean water is of vital importance to
manufacturers, who use 13 trillion gallons of water each year. And clean water is vital to real estate: properties located along
clean water areas is worth nearly 30 percent more than similar properties located inland.


To ensure that we continue to reap the benefits of clean water, we must not take this vital natural resource for granted. EPA's
report shows that despite the progress of the past generation, America's waters are still at risk.


The Maumee watershed is a case in point. As you know, the state has issued advisories warning residents to limit their
consumption of fish from both the Maumee and the Ottawa Rivers because of PCB contamination. Contamination has from
time to time forced the closing of Maumee Bay beaches.


In 1994, there were 96 beach closures in Ohio as a whole. More than 4012f Ohio's surveyed rivers and streams are too
polluted for swimming, and 35are too polluted for fishing. There are presently 21 fish consumption advisories in effect for
Ohio rivers. And more than 2 million Ohio residents receive their drinking water from systems that violated health standards
in the past two years.


Yet, over the past two years, Congressional leaders launched an unprecedented assault on public health and environmental
protection, including an attempt to roll back the Clean Water Act. Those reckless actions ignore the experience of the people
of Toledo -- that safe, clean water is essential to our lives, our communities, and our economy.


President Clinton stood firm against the attack on public health and environmental protections, and he has taken aggressive
action to protect water quality. Early on, this Administration moved aggressively to work with the people of the Great Lakes
States to protect the Lakes -- bringing people together, finding solutions that work for the people of this region. The result
was the Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative, which for the first time ever puts forth tough, consistent standards to control
toxic pollution throughout the Lakes.


The Administration is working to ensure that communities like this one have the resources they need to keep raw sewage and
toxic chemicals out of rivers and off beaches. We have called on Congress to pass a new Safe Drinking Water Act,
including, for the first time ever, a revolving loan fund to help communities upgrade their drinking water systems and protect
the sources of their drinking water. Communities across this country need those resources. Even our nation's capital is now
experiencing problems with our drinking water infrastructure, and we are working to solve those problems.


The people of Toledo are doing a great job, recognizing the importance of clean, healthy water and taking action to protect it.
The President will continue to take those actions necessary to protect this vital natural resource. To protect our health, our
communities, and our economy, we must protect our water.