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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to prevent groundwater contamination, focusing on: (1) its emphasis on contamination prevention activities; and (2) major barriers inhibiting implementation of a preventive approach.

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Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
Because of the heavy emphasis of EPA resources devoted to remediation activities and the need to shift groundwater-related resources toward prevention activities, Congress may wish to consider providing greater emphasis on preventive groundwater-related activities as it considers funding for EPA groundwater-related programs during the 1993 budget process.
Closed - Implemented
During the 1993 session, Congress held several hearings which stressed the need for a greater emphasis on the prevention of groundwater contamination. EPA's 1993 budget provided a Clean Water Act section 106 set-aside to help states develop comprehensive plans to emphasize the prevention of groundwater contamination. We will continue to track congressional action on this recommendation. While a step in the right direction, the funding provided is not sufficient to help states develop and implement comprehensive plans.

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency 1. To promote an improved balance between prevention and remediation in state groundwater-related programs, the Administrator, EPA, should work with the states to develop ways in which some of their existing groundwater-related grant programs can be reoriented to provide greater emphasis on preventive activities. Where congressional approval is needed, EPA should work with the cognizant authorizing and appropriations committees in the 1993 budget process to reorient funding priorities to provide greater emphasis on preventive activities.
Closed - Implemented
EPA issued a new Groundwater Strategy which emphasizes the need to prevent groundwater contamination. EPA's 1993 budget included a set-aside to develop and implement Comprehensive State Groundwater Protection plans. EPA issued guidance on how groundwater related grants can be restricted to prevent contamination.

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