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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

AREA WATER TREATMENT

07/11/1996
                         Carol M. Browner

Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scranton Area Water Treatment Plant

                          Scranton, PA

                      Prepared for Delivery
                         July 11, 1996


It is a pleasure to join local government and community leaders here today.

I want to congratulate the people of Lackawanna County for all you have done to ensure that your drinking water is clean
and safe. It was not so long ago that the people of this Valley could not drink the water coming out of their tap without fear
that it would make them sick. But the people of Scranton and Lackawanna County made a commitment to protect their
health and their community.


Today, standing by this beautiful lake, at this state-of-the-art water filtration plant, we can see the results of your efforts. This
community came together, and today, the drinking water contamination that once made people ill is a thing of the past.


The people of this area are also working to clean up the Lackawanna River -- to keep raw sewage and industrial pollution
out of the water -- so that your community can enjoy all the benefits of safe, clean water. EPA has been proud to assist in
that effort. Since 1984, EPA has provided Lackawanna County with $9.9 million in grants and loans to keep raw sewage out
of the water.


Together, we have made progress. As one measure of that progress, today, as you know, much of the Lackawanna is
deemed Class A for fishing.


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. To protect your drinking water, it makes sense to protect the sources of that water -- to keep
pollution out of the water in the first place by protecting all of your watershed.


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 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 alone generates $69 billion annually for our economy.


Clean water is of vital importance to agriculture, to commercial fishing, and to manufacturing. And real estate 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.


Here in Pennsylvania, advisories are currently in effect for 22 water bodies, warning people to limit their consumption of fish
from those waters. And more than 100,000 Pennsylvania residents receive their drinking water from systems that violated at
least one public health standard in the past two years. And as residents of this area know, portions of the Lackawanna River
are still in need of restoration. Together, we have made a great deal of progress, but much remains to be done.


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 this county -- 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. 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 other communities do what you have done
-- to upgrade their drinking water systems -- and to 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 Lackawanna County 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.