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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Adminstration have approved a 15-year program by the State of California to control polluted water that runs off contaminated sites into streams, rivers and the Pacific Ocean.
California's Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program, which is the first program in the nation to receive full federal approval as a joint nonpoint source program, targets contaminated runoff from city streets, farms, timber operations and abandoned mines. The plan meets the requirements of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 and the Clean Water Act.
"We commend California for taking responsibility to address what is now the leading cause of water pollution through this program and the funding they have committed to improving the program," said Felicia Marcus, EPA's Pacific Southwest regional administrator.
EPA also awarded California $10.6 million to implement the program. Half of the money will support community-based watershed protection projects; another portion will help complete and implement coastal runoff programs. California plans to spend up to $300 million in state and federal funds over the first five years of the program.
Polluted runoff is the leading cause of water quality problems in California--54 percent of California's impaired waterways are polluted by runoff, according to the EPA. In 1998, California experienced at least 5,285 beach days affected by closures and advisories due to poor water quality. The top causes of contamination in California rivers are farming, logging, urban runoff and mining.
(Source: Environment News Service)