Bush Budget proposal would boost funding for wastewater projects

The 2002 federal budget proposal announced by President Bush would increase grants to states for wastewater projects by $500 million from current levels, to $1.3 billion, with a portion designated for combined-sewer overflow controls.

March 7, 2001 (WEF Reporter) — The fiscal year 2002 federal budget proposal announced Feb. 28 by President George W. Bush would increase grants to states for wastewater projects by $500 million from current levels, to $1.3 billion, with a portion of the total designated for combined-sewer overflow controls.

The proposal also would allocate $2 billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program. Overall, the budget proposal would provide $7.3 billion to fund the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in FY 2002, or $56 million more than requested by the Clinton administration for FY 2001. (Bush's proposal would appropriate $499 million less for EPA than the enacted FY 2001 level, because it eliminates unrequested funding "earmarked" for inclusion in the agency's budget by members of the U.S. Congress.)

The total includes $3.7 billion to fund EPA's Operating Program and more than $1 billion for grants to states and tribes to administer environmental programs. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said the administration's proposal would ensure that the agency has "the resources to base decisions on sound science" and to strengthen its emphasis on innovative regulatory approaches, including the use of market-based incentives for regulatory compliance.

Proposal would set core water quality standards for 'Indian Country' waters

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released a prepublication version of proposed regulations to establish basic water quality standards for "Indian country" waterbodies that lack such standards under the Clean Water Act. (Indian country refers to "all lands within Federal Indian reservations plus certain other areas," the proposal states.)

The agency adopted the proposal immediately prior to the Bush administration's Jan. 20 call for a temporary moratorium on publishing recently proposed federal regulations. The proposed standards "would establish the basic framework of water quality protection" for tribal lands and "could be built upon in subsequent actions," the proposal states.

Since 1991, when EPA issued regulations establishing a process for tribes to adopt their own water quality standards, 42 tribes have begun the process, but only 18 have adopted final water quality standards, the agency said.

"Tribal reservations without approved standards account for as much land area as all of New England plus the State of New Jersey, and as many people as Wyoming, Alaska, and Vermont combined," the proposal states. "EPA does not expect that the numbers of Tribes with EPA-approved standards will increase significantly in the near future. EPA prefers that Tribes develop and adopt their own Clean Water Act standards. However, in light of the important protection afforded by standards, EPA is seeking additional means to expedite coverage of standards."

The prepublication version of the proposal and a related fact sheet are available at http://www.epa.gov/ost/standards/tribal. For more information, contact Fred Leutner at 1-202-260-1542 or leutner.fred@epa.gov or Joanne Dea at 1-202-260-7301 or dea.joanne@epa.gov.

For more information from the Water Environment Foundation (WEF), visit http://www.wef.org.

More in Environmental