(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, Pennsylvania Executive Director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) issued this statement following the release of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) comprehensive survey of the overall health of America's waterways. The 2008-2009 National Rivers and Stream Assessment reflects the most recent data available, and is part of EPA's expanded effort to monitor waterways in the U.S. and gather scientific data on the condition of the nation's water resources.
"The results of EPA's comprehensive national water quality survey are unfortunate but not surprising. EPA found that more than half of our nation's waters rated poorly for their ability to support aquatic life and showed excessive levels of both nitrogen and phosphorus—known to be the major pollutants impacting the Chesapeake Bay and thousands of miles of local waterways.
"Phosphorus, a commonly over-applied lawn and garden fertilizer was found at excessive levels in forty percent of tested waterways. Many states in the Mid-Atlantic region have adopted fertilizer legislation in order to cut down the amount of phosphorus reaching our waters. Pennsylvania has not. We encourage Pennsylvania's legislature and the Governor to consider legislation addressing excessive and often unnecessary lawn fertilization. We've had similar laws for agriculture fertilizers for 20 years; it's time for the same for suburban and urban lawns.
"There is no substitute for clean, drinkable water. While we are seeing real progress in the Chesapeake Bay and Pennsylvania has made significant water pollution reduction strides over the past decades, this report serves as a regrettable reminder that 40 years since the Clean Water Act clean and healthy water is not a given. We can do better. In fact, in some areas, we are. The progress we are now seeing in the Bay is the result of decades of collaborative efforts, commitments from all sectors, and a greater importance placed on clean water for us and for future generations. We, as a country, must remember that water is not an option—it's a necessity."