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EPA Report on Clean Water and the Nation's Economy

05/24/1996
Carol M. Browner

Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA Report on Clean Water and the Nation's Economy

                         Washington, D.C.

                      Prepared for Delivery
                          May 24, 1996


This weekend, millions of us will be heading for a vacation near clean water. We'll be enjoying this nation's beautiful beaches,
teaching our kids to swim, going fishing, strolling along the waterfront. As we head into summer, clean, safe water -- a
precious resource -- becomes more important than ever in our daily lives.


Today, EPA is releasing 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. 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 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.


From recreation and tourism, to agriculture, to manufacturing, clean water helps to bring billions of dollars into the nation's
economy each year. In addition to recreation and tourism, EPA's report examines four other key industrial sectors.


Clean water is of vital importance to agriculture. Crops grown on irrigated lands are valued at nearly $70 billion a year.
Agriculture provides jobs for more than 3 million people -- 1712f the labor market.


Clean water is key to commercial fishing and shellfishing, a $45 billion industry which employs more than a quarter of a
million people.


Clean water is a valuable commodity to the real estate industry. The value of real estate along desirable water areas is nearly
30 percent greater than similar properties located inland.


And finally, clean water is of vital importance to manufacturing. Manufacturers use 13 trillion gallons of water each year. The
soft drink manufacturing industry alone uses more than 12 billion gallons of water each year to produce products valued at
more than $50 billion.


This nation's "liquid assets" are extensive. We are blessed with 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams, 41 million acres of
lakes and 58,000 miles of shoreline. Today's report underscores the importance of protecting this vital natural resource -- for
the health of the people of this country, the health of our communities, and the health of our economy.


To ensure that our nation continues to reap the benefits of clean water, we cannot and we must not take this vital natural
resource for granted. Today's report shows that despite the progress of the past 25 years, America's waters are still at risk.
About 40 percent of rivers, lakes and streams surveyed are still too polluted for fishing or swimming. One out of five drinking
water systems reports violations of public health standards. In 1994, more than 2,000 beaches were closed to protect the
public from bacteria and other pollutants. One out of three shellfish beds is closed for harvest because of contamination.
People in many communities are warned that to protect their health, they must limit the amount of fish they eat from their local
river, their local lake.


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 findings of today's report
-- that safe, clean water is essential to our lives, our communities, and our economy.


President Clinton recognizes the importance of clean water to this nation and has taken aggressive action to protect it. The
President stood firm against the attack on public health and environmental protections. The Clinton Administration is
enforcing tough standards to keep toxic pollution out of our waters. The Administration is making sure that states and
communities have the resources they need to keep raw sewage out of rivers and off beaches. And for the first time ever,
President Clinton has proposed the same type of loan funds to help communities upgrade their drinking water supplies. And
the Clinton Administration has crafted groundbreaking common-sense plans to protect and restore water quality in the Great
Lakes, the San Francisco Bay-Delta, and the Everglades.


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.