The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Serena Ingre, 202/289-2378 or 703/296-0702 (cell)

New EPA Rule Leaves US Waterways at Risk

Proposed pollution control standards fall short for construction and building sites


In another blow to our nation's waterways, the Bush
Administration proposed a rule that would leave streams, rivers and
lakes nationwide vulnerable to contamination by development and
construction runoff, including metals and other toxic pollutants.

proposed EPA standards fail to require the construction and development
industry to implement affordable and effective pollution control
technologies to all their projects that would safeguard our nation's
waters against pollution. EPA has identified effective and affordable
low-impact development technologies to prevent pollution, but does not
require implementing them in this rule.

again, EPA is heading down the wrong path by failing to protect our
waterways from pollution," said Melanie Shepherdson, staff attorney
with the water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
"Some smart developers are already using low-impact approaches to
reduce stormwater pollution. However most continue to pave over natural
water filters and cut trees for development, permanently degrading
local waterways."

When it
rains, construction sites discharge tons of sediment, as well as toxic
pollutants, such as metals and polyaromatic hydrocarbons that can
severely contaminate local waterways. Also, the rapid conversion of
land to urban and suburban areas has altered how water flows from

"We welcome EPA's
efforts to finally propose to set objective standards for pollution
control at construction sites," said Jeffrey Odefey, Staff Attorney at
the Waterkeeper Alliance. "It's unfortunate, however, that they are
only requiring the largest sites to meet the standards and ignored the
advice of the best stormwater minds in the country and passed up this
opportunity to address the permanent harm development causes after
construction is over."

month, an EPA-convened panel at the National Research Council released
a report supporting the use of low impact development to prevent water
pollution. But the agency's proposed rule does not reflect the
council's recommendations or its own priorities.

  • It
    will not require the use of technologies that are affordable and reduce
    the discharge of metals and other toxic pollutants, missing an
    opportunity to prevent water pollution.
  • It will
    not require any control of ongoing water pollution after construction
    is completed, which is the largest source of environmental harm.
  • It fails to set a measurable and enforceable standard for most construction and development sites.

NRDC works to safeguard the earth--its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.

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