View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release February 19, 1998
                            PRESIDENT CLINTON: 

Tonight, I ask you to join me in launching a new Clean Water Initiative, a far-reaching effort to clean our rivers, our lakes, our coastal waters for our children.

                                 President Bill Clinton
                                 State of the Union, January 27, 1998

Today, President Clinton announces a Clean Water Action Plan to restore and protect America's waters. Twenty-five years after enactment of the Clean Water Act, the President is launching a major new initiative to fulfill its promise -- 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.

New Pollution Challenges. We have made tremendous strides in cleaning up our rivers, lakes and coastal waters, largely by controlling pollution from factories and sewage plants. Yet 40 percent of our surveyed waterways are still too polluted for fishing and swimming. The largest remaining challenge is reducing nonpoint pollution: runoff from farms, city streets and other sources.

A Second Generation of Clean Water Protection. These new challenges demand a new approach. The Action Plan aims to protect public health and restore our precious waterways by setting strong goals and providing states, communities and landowners the tools and resources to meet them. It charts a new course emphasizing collaborative strategies built around watersheds and the communities they sustain.

Clean Water, Healthy Communities. The Action Plan supports efforts by states and communities to prevent the contamination of beaches, fish and drinking water sources. It will reduce polluted runoff, increase wetlands and protect coastal waters from outbreaks of harmful organisms like Pfiesteria and alarming conditions like the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Incentives for Conservation. To promote private conservation efforts, the Action Plan provides increased incentives to farmers and other landowners to adopt practices that protect water quality. For instance, it expands Department of Agriculture programs that compensate farmers for creating protective forest and grassland buffers along rivers and streams.

Community-Based Planning. Water quality is best protected by looking at the entire watershed -- all the land, from forest to farm to urban neighborhood, that contributes runoff to a river system. The Action Plan encourages states and communities to work with the public and all affected stakeholders to identify priorities and the most cost-effective cleanup strategies.