I applaud our public agency members for their ongoing commitment to ensuring clean water progress following the release of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 23rd Annual Beach Report. The Report found a total of 20,120 beach closing and advisory days in 2012, a decrease of 14 percent from 2011.
Although the Report notes that the reduction in closures is largely due to drier beach seasons in large areas of the United States, long-term trends show continuous improvements made by wastewater utilities that have positively impacted beach water quality nationwide. The Report identifies sewage spills and overflows as the lowest known source of pollution, representing only 10 percent of total closings and advisories. Polluted runoff and stormwater, including contamination from birds and other animal sources of bacteria, account for the greatest known sources of pollution that caused closings and advisories in 2012, comprising 28 percent of total closings and advisories. Additionally, the Report shows a reduction in monitoring samples that exceed the Environmental Protection Agency’s health standards, from 8 percent in 2011 to 7 percent in 2012.
Wastewater and stormwater agencies continue to make strides in addressing potential sources of contamination on our Nation’s beaches. Our nation’s clean water agencies have maintained the vital environmental and public health services they provide on a daily basis, despite continual increases in costs to utilities due to regulatory compliance and significant pressure to fund infrastructure repairs.
Clean water agencies, nationwide, spend approximately $50 billion annually to ensure that wastewater treatment systems can meet the needs of a growing population and expanding industrial base. Over the past ten years and in spite of the economic downturnclean water agency service charges have significantly outpaced the rate of inflatione, according to NACWA’s recently released 2012 Service Charge Index.
NACWA supports the Natural Resources Defense Council’s efforts to clean up all sources of beach pollution, and applauds the Report for aggressively advocating for increases to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and more widespread implementation of green infrastructure solutions to maintain water quality progress.