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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

EPA Report on Clean Water and the Nation's Economy

06/03/1996
                         Carol M. Browner

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

                          Milwaukee, WI

                      Prepared for Delivery
                          June 3, 1996


I want to thank Mayor Norquist for bringing us together. It is a pleasure to join business, community, and environmental
leaders here today.


As we begin the summer season, millions of Americans will be heading for vacations near clean water. We'll be 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.


EPA has just 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.


Clean water is also 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 employing a quarter million people.

Clean water is a valuable commodity to the real estate industry. Real estate along desirable water areas is worth nearly 30
percent more than similar properties located inland.


And clean water is of vital importance to manufacturers, who use 13 trillion gallons of water each year.

This nation is blessed with 3.5 million miles of rivers and streams, 41 million acres of lakes and 58,000 miles of shoreline.
EPA's report underscores the importance of protecting this vital natural resource -- for the health of the public, the health of
our communities, and the health of our economy.


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 25 years, America's waters are still at risk. Across the country, 40 percent
of rivers, lakes and streams surveyed are still too polluted for fishing or swimming. Here in Wisconsin, 6412f surveyed lakes
are too polluted for fishing or swimming. More than 45 million Americans, including 375,000 in Wisconsin, receive their
drinking water from systems that violated health standards in the past two years.


In 1994, 148 Wisconsin beaches had to be closed to protect the public from bacteria and other pollutants. South Shore
Beach here in Milwaukee was closed seven times. The State of Wisconsin advises the public to limit their consumption of fish
from 245 lakes and rivers, including Lake Michigan. Clearly, much remains to be done to protect our health and our
environment.


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


The President stood firm against the attack on public health and environmental protections and has taken aggressive action to
protect water quality. The Great Lakes Water Quality Initiative -- reflecting the hard work and involvement of citizens
throughout the Great Lakes States -- puts forth tough standards to control toxic pollution. The Administration is ensuring 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 a federal loan fund to help communities upgrade their drinking water systems.


The people of Milwaukee recognize the importance of clean, healthy water and you are 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.