Water Pollution:

EPA Budget Needs to Place Greater Emphasis on Controlling Nonpoint Source Pollution

T-RCED-92-46: Published: Apr 7, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 7, 1992.

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GAO discussed: (1) its report on barriers to state and local efforts to control non-point-source water pollution and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to control such pollution; and (2) EPA budget priorities for water quality for fiscal year (FY) 1992 and FY 1993. GAO noted that federal barriers to state and local non-point-source water pollution control efforts include: (1) agricultural, mining, transportation, and other programs that promote non-point-source pollution; (2) a lack of data on the scope and impact of non-point-source pollution; (3) EPA failure to provide criteria for assessing the water quality hazards of non-point-source pollution; (4) the high cost of, and limited resources for, controlling non-point-source pollution; and (5) political sensitivity over related land use issues. GAO also noted that: (1) resource constraints and other limitations have hampered EPA ability to interact effectively with other agencies to set and implement non-point-source pollution control programs; (2) a low EPA funding priority for non-point-source pollution is inconsistent with the degree of environmental and health risk posed by such pollution; (3) less than 6 percent of FY 1990 EPA funding for water pollution control was devoted to non-point-source pollution control activities; and (4) the FY 1992 and FY 1993 EPA budget requests continued to place a low priority on non-point-source pollution control activities, and the FY 1993 EPA budget request would cut water pollution control grants to states despite increased state responsibilities under the Coastal Zone Management Act.

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