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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 19, 1998


Twenty-five years after the Clean Water Act began the job of restoring America's waterways, President Clinton and Vice President Gore are launching a major new initiative to fulfill the promise of that landmark law -- clean, healthy water for all Americans.

To carry out the initiative, the President's budget proposes $568 million in new resources in Fiscal Year 1999 -- a 35 percent increase -- and a total increase of $2.3 billion over five years. The President also is challenging Congress to join him in strengthening and reauthorizing the Clean Water Act.

25 Years of Success - In 1972, the Potomac River was too dirty for swimming, Lake Erie was dying and the Cuyahoga River was so polluted it burst into flames. Over the past 25 years, since enactment of the Clean Water Act, America has made significant strides in cleaning up our rivers, lakes and coastal waters:

The Challenges Ahead - Despite tremendous progress in controlling pollution from factories and sewage plants, runoff from farms, city streets and other sources continues to degrade our water. Too many of our rivers, lakes and coastal areas remain in trouble:

The Clean Water Action Plan:
Restoring and Protecting America's Waters

On October 18, 1997, the 25th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Vice President Gore directed the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture to work with other agencies and the public to prepare an aggressive plan outlining the next generation of clean water protection. The Action Plan, announced today by President Clinton, will protect public health and restore our precious waterways by setting strong goals and providing states, communities and farmers the tools and resources to meet them. It charts a new course emphasizing collaborative strategies built around watersheds and the communities they sustain. The plan calls for more than 100 major new actions to restore and protect water resources, including:

Protecting Public Health

Controlling Polluted Runoff

Incentives for Private Land Stewardship

New Resources for Watersheds

Restoring and Protecting Wetlands

Protecting Coastal Waters

Expanding Citizens' Right to Know

Enhanced Federal Stewardship

Immediate Steps Toward Long-Term Goals

As the President presents his long-term vision for restoring America's waters, the Administration today also is announcing two immediate steps to carry out the Action Plan:

A New Partnership for Agricultural Stewardship

The Department of Agriculture is announcing a new agreement with the state of Minnesota that will provide over $200 million to promote buffer strips, easements and other conservation measures on agricultural lands. Maryland was the first state to enter into such an agreement, and proposals for similar agreements with other states are pending.

Cleaner Water Through Science

Secretary Glickman also is announcing the discovery by Department of Agriculture researchers of a new corn variety that, when used as animal feed, can significantly reduce phosphorous levels in agricultural runoff. Seed companies expect to market the new variety for the 2000 growing season.