Greater EPA Leadership Needed to Reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution

T-RCED-91-34: Published: May 1, 1991. Publicly Released: May 1, 1991.

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GAO discussed the barriers inhibiting state and local efforts to control non-point-source water pollution and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to control non-point-source pollution. GAO noted that barriers impeding state and local efforts to control non-point-source pollution included: (1) the inherent conflicts between some federal agencies' policies and states' water quality goals; (2) insufficient monitoring data on the scope and impact of the problem and the effectiveness of potential solutions; (3) insufficient technical information available to the states to set water quality standards for non-point-source pollution; (4) limited resources available to state and local governments in comparison with the magnitude of the problem; and (5) the political sensitivities involved in controlling local land uses that indirectly cause water pollution. GAO also noted that: (1) the EPA plan to deal with non-point-source pollution between fiscal year (FY) 1989 and FY 1993 was ineffective due to resource constraints; (2) staff and resource limitations influenced EPA efforts to develop stronger partnerships with other agencies, improve monitoring techniques, help states develop water quality standards, and perform other critical functions; (3) despite recognizing non-point-source pollution as the nation's primary water pollution problem, EPA budget priorities targeted point-source problems; and (4) despite GAO recommendations, EPA increased the funding imbalance between its point and non-point-source programs in its budget request for FY 1992.

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