Pesticides in all U.S. waters, shows need for National Clean Water Trust Fund

Clean Water America (CWA) is calling on Congress and the White House to support the recently introduced Clean Water Trust Act of 2005, H.R. 4560. This landmark legislation would create a deficit-neutral, clean water trust fund to protect and restore the quality of America's waterways...

WASHINGTON, DC, March 13, 2006 -- Last week, the U.S. Geological Survey released "Pesticides in the Nation's Streams and Ground Water, 1992-2001." The 10-year survey documents the contamination caused by pesticide use in agriculture and urbanized areas around the country. Every year, nearly one billion pounds of pesticides, many of which are linked to cancer, birth defects, neurological disorders, and environmental impacts, are used in the U.S., much of it ending up in our nation's waters. When pesticides are applied on fields, gardens, parks and lawns, a percentage of the chemicals ends up running off the treated site and into local waterways, placing a greater burden on wastewater districts charged with keeping these waters clean and safe.

Studies of major rivers and streams find that 100% of all surface water samples tested positive for at least one and often a mixture of pesticides, 96% of all fish samples and 33% of major aquifers contain one or more pesticides at detectable levels. And pesticides were rarely the only chemicals in the water. More than 90% of contaminated streams had at least two detectable chemicals and 20% carried 10 or more.

In response to the data, USGS Associate Director for Water, Robert Hirsch stated that, "While the use of pesticides has resulted in benefits to control weeds, insects, and other pests, including increased food production and reduction of insect-borne disease, their use also raises questions about possible effects on the environment, including water quality."

On March 2, the Administration proposed dramatic cuts to clean water funding at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies' hearing on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) fiscal year 2007 budget. This would be the third consecutive year of cuts to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund � a reduction of almost 50% since 2004. As new threats, such as pesticides, become known, the federal government is withdrawing funding to clean up the Nation's waters and asking that wastewater agencies address alone the $300 to $500 billion funding need reported by the EPA, Government Accountability Office (GAO), and Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to upgrade aging plants and pipes.

In response, Clean Water America (CWA) is calling on Congress and the White House to support the recently introduced Clean Water Trust Act of 2005, H.R. 4560. This landmark legislation would create a deficit-neutral, clean water trust fund to protect and restore the quality of America's waterways. Not only does H.R. 4560 increase the amount of clean water funding by 700% to address the backlog of critical clean water projects, meet unfunded mandates, and improve utility management, but it also increases funding for water quality research and creates new watershed projects specifically to address non-point sources of pollution such as pesticides.

As the USGS report shows, pesticides now taint the water sources for hundreds of millions of Americans. These contaminants, though most often found in levels below those deemed unsafe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) combine to form chemical mixtures of which the potential environmental and health effects are not well-known. The Clean Water Trust Act of 2005 offers an opportunity through the creation of a national clean water trust fund to tackle essential capital replacement projects needed to meet federal Clean Water Act mandates and improve the quality of the nation's waters."

Clean Water America (www.cleanwateramerica.org) is a not-for-profit advocacy network dedicated to bringing organizations and individuals together to protect and improve the quality of water in America. With more than 150 supporting organizations - including environmental organizations, commercial and recreational fishing associations, business and industry groups, labor, and wastewater organizations -- and over 60,000 individual supporters Clean Water America uses its distinct voice to advocate on the need for a long-term, sustainable solution to ensure clean and safe water in America.

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Also see: "USGS report details pesticides in nation's streams, groundwater"

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