In his 1998 State of the Union address on January 27, President Clinton called for $2.3 billion in additional funding to address the nation's outstanding water pollution and water quality problem. In Baltimore, MD on February 19, 1998, President Clinton released the Administration’s “Clean Water Action Plan” (CWAP) to address these issues. This plan is a four-part program that encourages: The Clean Water Action Plan is an ambitious effort designed to use, coordinate and supplement existing federal, State and local pollution control programs to help address the largest remaining source of water pollution in the country - that of nonpoint source or diffuse pollution which pollutes the surface and ground waters due to storm runoff from farms, lawns, streets, parking lots, and industrial facilities, from air deposition and polluted ground waters.

Since 1984, nonpoint source pollution has been identified as the single-most significant source of water quality problems in the country. For years, both federal and state governments have struggled to address this issue. While some nonpoint source control efforts have been successful, there is often a lack of focus, or coordination between various government agencies at different levels as well as a lack of funds to effectively address these pollution sources. Most states have only allocated limited resources to programs to address these problems and have limited authority to regulate these pollution sources. Congress has not re-authorized or amended the Clean Water Act in many years and reductions in the budgets of many federal agencies have limited financial resources available to the States. As a result, progress on addressing nonpoint source pollution has been slow.

The Clean Water Action Plan framework provides for a coordinated effort by federal agencies and State and local governments to work together in a concerted effort to identify areas with water quality and aquatic resource impacts, prioritize needs and develop plans to address these issues. To provide additional financial resources needed to implement this plan, President Clinton’s Clean Water and Watershed Restoration Budget Initiative would’ve added $568 million to the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of the Interior (Fish and Wildlife Service, Geological Survey), Department of Commerce (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA), and the US Department of Defense (each service branch and Army Corps of Engineers) in Fiscal Year 1999. More than $100 million dollars of these funds would go to EPA-administered grant programs directed toward polluted runoff controls and state program management. USDA conservation programs would see almost $200 million more (agriculture-related water pollution is the most often identified source of nonpoint source pollution in the country). Congress’ actions, thus far, has been to budget much of the requested funding for EPA and NOAA programs, but little for other agencies. As of August 5, of the $568 million of additional funds requested by the President, the Senate had had identified an additional $113 million and the House had identified $64 million for FY'99. For the latest information on the budget status of this initiative, see the EPA or USDA’s Clean Water Action home pages.

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