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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                            (Yulee, Florida)
For Immediate Release                                       May 29, 1999

May 29, 1999



SUBJECT: Clean Water Protection

Fifteen months ago, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, my Administration set forth a vision for a new generation of clean water protection through our Clean Water Action Plan. The Action Plan strengthens protections for our Nation's waters, addresses the remaining sources of water quality impairment, and provides the tools and resources that States, Tribes, and communities need to control pollution on a coordinated basis throughout their watersheds.

The Action Plan recognizes that despite significant progress, the challenge for all of us in protecting our Nation's waters remains unfinished. The health of our people continues to be threatened by exposure to harmful organisms in our waters; consumption of fish from many of our waters presents a threat to the most vulnerable among us; polluted runoff has for too long eluded remedy using conventional approaches. The Action Plan was coupled with a challenge to the Congress to reauthorize and strengthen the Clean Water Act, but the Congress has yet to act on this challenge.

As we begin the beach-going season, when families are reminded again about the importance of clean water to their recreation, their well-being, and the economy, we remain anxious to work with the Congress on strengthening the Clean Water Act. We must not wait for the Congress, however, before using our available resources and authority to further accelerate the effort to protect America's waters and the health and safety of the American public.

Accordingly, I direct you to take the following additional steps, consistent with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Water Action Plan, to protect public health and clean water.

First, I direct the Park Service and other units of the Department of the Interior to strengthen water-quality protections at all beaches managed by the Department. Improved monitoring should be used wherever necessary to enhance the public's right to know that beaches are safe for their families and to assist the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), States, and Tribes to identify and stop the causes of beach closures.

Second, I direct the EPA to work with the States to expedite the pace at which they will strengthen their beach and recreational water quality standards, so that the public will be able to enjoy the same strong level of protection at all the Nation's beaches no later than 2003. In accordance with the EPA's Beach Action Plan, the EPA should promulgate standards in cases where a State does not amend its water quality standards to include the EPA-recommended criteria in a timely manner.

Third, I direct the EPA to improve protection of public health at our Nation's beaches by developing, within 1 year, a strong national regulation to prevent the over 40,000 annual sanitary sewer overflows from contaminating our Nation's beaches and jeopardizing the health of our Nation's families. At a minimum, the program must raise the standard for sewage treatment to adequately protect public health and provide full information to communities about these water quality problems and associated health risks.

Fourth, I direct the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture to enhance management of Federal lands to increase protection of waters on or near Federal lands, and to identify waters on or near Federal lands that require special protection. Specifically, a proposal for a unified Federal policy on watershed management, developed under the Clean Water Action Plan, should be circulated first for consultation with States and Indian Tribes, and then published in the Federal Register for public comment no later than July 15, 1999.

Each of these measures should be implemented through a process that provides appropriate opportunities for participation and comment by States, Tribes, and the affected public.

This memorandum is not intended to create any right, benefit, or trust responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity by a party against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, or any other person.


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