NOAA 99-R415
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Dewell
10/6/99

NOAA, EPA SET TO APPROVE FIRST STATE
RUNOFF POLLUTION PLAN

Maryland is one step away from being the first U.S. state or territory to get a final federal seal of approval on a state "coastal non-point pollution control plan" according to the two federal agencies responsible for reviewing the plan. Non-point pollution, also known as polluted runoff, is a significant problem throughout the nation and especially in coastal areas and watersheds that feed into sensitive estuaries and coastal environments.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced their intention to grant final approval of Maryland's non-point plan in a Federal Register notice published today. Public comments on the proposal will be accepted until Nov. 5, 1999.

"Being the first state in the nation to receive approval for fighting the threat of runoff pollution is a real testament to the hard work and dedication that Marylanders have shown in forming partnerships between local governments, the private sector, and environmental communities," said Governor Parris N. Glendening. "Marylanders know and appreciate the rich heritage of our coastal waterways, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Atlantic coast. Our successful plan reemphasizes our determination to protect our natural resources for future generations to enjoy."

The national Coastal Zone Management program, of which the non-point plans are a part, is administered by NOAA's National Ocean Service. The program is a unique and voluntary partnership of federal and coastal state and territorial governments that encourages a balance between land and water uses in coastal zones and conservation of fragile coastal resources.

"Cleaning up, preserving and protecting America's waters is going to be a long, hard journey, and approval of Maryland's plan is a very important first step," said Terry Garcia, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy administrator of NOAA. "The strength of the Coastal Zone Management program and the non-point control plans is that they are state focused and grass roots based, but still part of a larger, national effort. Approval and implementation of these plans shows how effectively the federal, state, and local governments can work together to really make a difference and give us a cleaner, healthier environment," he said.

The EPA, which oversees the nation's water quality, sees the adoption of the non-point pollution control plans as a key link in improving the health of the nation's waterways.

"Controlling polluted runoff is one of our greatest challenges, because it is the leading cause of pollution to our nation's waters," said Chuck Fox, assistant administrator for water at EPA. "Along our coasts, pollution from the land can lead to shellfish bed closures, fish consumption advisories and beach closures. Through the Coastal Zone Management program, states like Maryland are working to protect both the economy of communities that depend on important coastal resources and the health of millions of Americans who live and recreate along our coasts," he said.

More information on the CZMA and the coastal state non-point pollution control plans is available from NOAA on the World Wide Web at:
http://www.ocrm.nos.noaa.gov/czm/welcome.html
and from the EPA at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/NPS/coastnps.html