Oct 28, 2002
The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued a report on the state of the nation's rivers, lakes and estuaries. Almost half are too polluted for swimming or fishing, let alone drinking. The pollution comes from sewage treatment plants, from industrial waste and from farm runoff (of chemicals and manure).
In Maryland, for example, 19 sewage plants and industries were cited between 1999 and 2001 for leaking hazardous chemicals at levels higher than those allowed. Among the violators were two of the largest industries in Maryland: Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point and Perdue Farms on the Eastern shore. In addition, the cities of Baltimore and Salisbury paid fines for letting sewage leak into the water system.
By the EPA's own estimate, more than 500 billion dollars over the next 17 years is needed to repaid aging pipes and facilities and to build needed new ones.
Under pressure from state officials, Congress has proposed some tax money to assist in rebuilding water and sewage infrastructure. The Bush administration already announced its opposition even to this small amount. It said the money was needed for defense spending.
If this administration were really "defending" us, it would start by paying to clean up the water we use every day.