Say Stronger Clean Water Act and Funding
Needed For Safety of Tennessee
Families and Environment
to Keep the Promise of Clean Water
October 18 -
On the 29th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Tennessee
citizens challenged the state of Tennessee and Congress to make good on
the promise of clean water made by the Clean Water Act in 1972. Today marks the beginning of the Year of Clean Water
leading up to October 18, 2002, the 30th anniversary of the
Clean Water Act, one of the most significant environmental laws of the
last century and for the future.
Our health and protection from unsafe and polluted
waters should remain one of the highest priorities of the state,
said Danielle Droitsch, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water
Network (TCWN). There will be four
press conferences [information below] across the state celebrating
the kick-off leading up to October 18, 2002, the 30th anniversary
of the Clean Water Act.
The Clean Water Act of 1972 was passed when many of
our nations major rivers were virtual sewers and we were losing
wetlands at an unprecedented rate. The Cuyahoga River was so polluted
that it burst into flames and the Potomac River was considered a
severe threat to anyone who comes in contact with it. Thanks to
the Clean Water Act, things are better today.
This nation set a goal of eliminating all discharges
to navigable waters by 1985. Obviously
we have not reached that goal, said Will Callaway, Executive Director
of Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC).
We want to encourage people across the state to take responsibility
for cleaning up their own streams and to insist that pollution discharges
become a thing of the past.
Today, nearly 30 years after the passage of this important
law, the Clean Water Acts promise of clean water for everyone has
yet to be kept. While many
of the countrys most obvious pollution problems have been addressed,
the Clean Water Act has yet to be fully implemented and enforced.
"When the Clean Water Act was passed, it was as
if we'd promised each other to stop poisoning our own water supplies,
destroying our natural streams and wetlands, and exterminating aquatic
species faster than we could identify them, said David Sligh, Southeast
Director of American Rivers, We've taken some important steps to
try to live up to our promises but we have far to go.
I hope the next year brings a new commitment to truly protect and
restore our waters for all uses, even when the solutions aren't the fastest
or cheapest we can find."
In its last state water quality report, Tennessee reported
that 31 percent (7540 miles) of its monitored rivers did not meet water
quality standards. In addition,
22 percent of Tennessees lakes (118,081 acres) did not meet water
quality standards. According
to the state, a staggering 59 percent of Tennessees rivers are not
monitored for water quality standards.
As a result, the public cannot be informed as to the safety of
these waters. On a more positive note, most of Tennessee lakes are monitored.
In addition, a recent report found that 53 percent
of Tennessees major sewage treatment and industrial plants violated
the law during the 15-month study period.
Other studies show that water polluters are rarely fined for their
violations. When polluters are fined, penalties are often too low to discourage
As a former employee of TDEC, I know there is a lot more
that can be done to protect our waters, involve interested citizens, and
fine polluters enough to help fund the programs without an income tax
and keep our parks open and free, said Barry Sulkin, Director, Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility in Tennessee and former Chief
of Enforcement for TN Water Pollution Control.
The groups challenged Congress and the Bush Administration
to make good on the promise of clean water by taking the following steps
before the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act on October
18, 2002. Specifically they
requested that Congress and the Bush administration:
The groups also called on the Tennessee legislature
to ensure that there is adequate funding of those programs responsible
for the protection of our state waters and enforcement of Clean Water
Act. According to the Tennessee
Clean Water Network, increased funding is needed not only for programs
but also for employee salaries that are significantly lower as compared
with other southern states. "If
we expect safe waters, then we need to ensure our state programs are adequately
staffed and funded. Right now, we have too many underpaid, overworked,
and demoralized personnel who are not even provided with sufficient resources
to implement basic watershed protection activities, said Droitsch.
2:00 p.m. CST
Park, Court of Flags area. Location
is in the park near the intersection of Broadway and First Avenue.
Local contact: Will Callaway 615-248-6500
10:00 a.m. EST
in downtown Chattanooga.
Sandy Kurtz 423.892.5237 (home) or
2:00 p.m. EST
Greenway Parking Lot off Neyland Drive next to the UT Agricultural Experiment
Station. Local contact:
Marcy Reed 865.691.8807
Crossville: Meet at 2:30 CST at the Believers Fellowship
Church on Porcelain Stone Drive in Crossville. Porcelain Stone Drive is
west off Main St. (Route 127) at the first signal south of Route 40.
The Church is the first building on the right. Meet in parking
lot before driving a short distance to view the condition of streams as
construction continues in the Crossroads Business Park.