FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Connie Barclay
COASTAL POLLUTED RUNOFF CONTROL EFFORT
First New England State to Gain Full Approval
Federal and Rhode Island government officials gathered in South Kingstown, R. I. this morning to sign documents approving the state's Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program. Rhode Island will be the first New England state and the second U.S. state or territory to receive full federal approval of a state Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program.
Polluted runoff causes significant problems throughout the nation and especially in coastal areas and watersheds that feed into sensitive estuaries and coastal environments.
"Rhode Island, which is known as the Ocean State,' takes great pride in the quality of its coastal resources," said Governor Lincoln Almond regarding approval of the state's plan. "Nonpoint sources, such as mismanaged urban land use and malfunctioning septic systems create enormous impacts and severely threaten the integrity of our fragile coast. Therefore, we are extremely pleased to be the first New England state and only the second state nationwide to receive full approval of our coastal nonpoint pollution control program. I look forward to our continued collaboration with NOAA and EPA as Rhode Island continues to lead the nation in efforts to abate nonpoint sources and protect the coast."
The national Coastal Zone Management program, of which the coastal nonpoint pollution control plans are a part, is administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service. The CZM program is a unique and voluntary partnership of federal and coastal state and territorial governments that encourages balance between land and water uses in coastal zones and conservation of fragile coastal resources.
"Rhode Island has demonstrated resolution and leadership in meeting the requirements and goals of the coastal nonpoint program through its own state laws, programs and inter-agency cooperation," said Jeff Benoit, director of NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management. "NOAA is proud to announce that its FY2001 Budget Request includes $4.5 million for our state partners to help them reduce polluted runoff." A significant portion of the money will be used for completing or implementing coastal nonpoint programs.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the nation's water quality programs, sees the adoption of the coastal nonpoint pollution control plans as a key link in improving the health of the nation's waterways.
"Polluted runoff is a major problem in Rhode Island, causing shellfish closures, swimming bans, and degraded aquatic habitats," said Mindy S. Lubber, acting regional administrator at EPA's New England Office. "The Program that we're approving is a major step forward in addressing this complex water pollution problem. It will dramatically improve how we manage activities that degrade coastal waters, including septic system improvements. EPA is proud of Rhode Island's achievement."
The coastal nonpoint pollution control program approval ceremony was combined with a $3 million award presented to the Towns of New Shoreham, South Kingstown, and Charlestown, R.I., in partnership with the University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension to work together to demonstrate a community-based watershed approach to managing on-site wastewater systems in Block Island and the Green Hill Pond watersheds. The purpose of this project is to establish sustainable wastewater management programs in the three communities using site-specific performance standards and alternative septic system technologies to reduce pollution risks to local water resources.
More information on the CZM program and
the coastal state nonpoint pollution control plans is available
from NOAA on the World Wide Web at - http://www.ocrm.nos.noaa.gov/czm/welcome.html