For Immediate Release: April 12, 2012
Contact: Patricia Sinicropi
Director of Legislative Affairs, NACWA
National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Commends EWG Report On Agricultural Nutrient Run-Off
Washington, D.C. — NACWA commends the Environmental Working Group for its report “Troubled Waters: Farm Pollution Threatens Drinking Water” and for shining the spotlight on the critical public health issues raised by agricultural sources of nutrient pollution. Nutrient pollution in U.S. surface and ground waters is becoming the Nation’s greatest water quality challenge. According to state water quality reports, over fifty percent of impaired lakes, rivers and streams are impaired due to nutrient pollution, the dominant source of which is agricultural run-off. For more than a year, NACWA has been convening the Healthy Waters Coalition, a diverse coalition of stakeholders representing municipal water and wastewater utilities, state regulators, agricultural and conservation sectors, in efforts to tackle the issue of nutrient run-off from agricultural lands in the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill.
“This EWG report is a reminder of what is at stake if we do not take meaningful action to address agricultural sources of nutrient pollution,” stated Ken Kirk, NACWA Executive Director. “The Healthy Waters Coalition calls on Congress to ensure that the Farm Bill includes policies to incorporate specific provisions to deal with nutrient run-off from agricultural lands.”
Most agricultural producers are exempt from the water pollution control requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, and few states have authority to require agricultural operators in critical watersheds to reduce nutrient run-off, according to the EWG report. As a result, the Farm Bill, which is renewed every five years, provides an opportunity for policy-makers to make progress in confronting the agricultural nutrient challenge.
According to a NACWA report released March 6, 2012, Controlling Nutrient Loadings to U.S. Waterways: An Urban Perspective , the cost to remove a pound of nitrogen or phosphorus from farm runoff and drainage is typically 4 to 5—and sometimes up to 10 to 20—times less than the cost to remove the same amount from municipal wastewater or stormwater.
NACWA represents the interests of more than 300 public agencies and organizations that have made the pursuit of scientifically based, technically sound and cost effective laws and regulations their objective. NACWA members serve the majority of the sewered population in the United States and collectively treat and reclaim more than 18 billion gallons of wastewater daily.