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The Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA) supports pollution prevention as a means to ensure that the nation’s drinking water supplies are safe and of high quality. AMWA urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to emphasize pollution prevention in all programs and reauthorization efforts. Preventing pollutants from entering drinking water supply source water is a complex task involving point and nonpoint sources. It is more effective to control point source pollutants at the discrete conveyance, where they are highly concentrated, than it is to remove them at the consumer’s expense after they have entered a water body or supply source.Similarly, it is preferable to manage nonpoint source pollutants through approaches such as enhanced watershed protection. This approach also helps ensure that those who pollute our natural resources are notallowed to pass the cost of correcting the problem onto others.

AMWA supports EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)efforts to work with its State and local partners to prioritize watersheds, to develop watershed based permitting or general permits for reducing nutrient loads by setting realistic load-reduction goals with focus on defined watershed areas that have active local community involvement and combine resources from multiple partners and stakeholders.

AMWA further urges that Congress strengthen pollution prevention programs through the Clean Water Act (CWA); the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA); and laws governing farm programs of the USDA. Congress should appropriate sufficient funds for nonpoint source pollution prevention programs, especially farm conservation programs. Such actions as targeting farm conservation efforts to protect drinking water sources and encouraging watershed protection planning will provide a clear pollution prevention focus for local, state, and federal activities.

The source water protection provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996 (SDWA) provide a start in acknowledging the importance of pollution prevention at the federal level.

Rationale:

  1. Pollutant prevention is more effective and equitable than removal through drinking water treatment.
  2. EPA has the authority through various existing laws including the SDWA, CWA, FIFRA and others to control contaminants that degrade water quality and increase the cost of water treatment. EPA should align the standards setting processes and regulatory requirements of the SDWA and CWA.
  3. USDA has authority to control agriculture-related contaminants that degrade water quality and increase the cost of water treatment.