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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the impacts of nonpoint source water pollution and the potential costs of dealing with the problem, focusing on: (1) funding levels for federal programs that primarily address nonpoint source pollution; (2) the way Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assesses the overall potential costs of reducing nonpoint pollution nationwide and alternative methods for doing so; and (3) nonpoint source pollution from federal facilities, lands, and activities that federal agencies manage or authorize, or for which they issue permits or licenses.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Environmental Protection Agency To improve EPA's approach toward estimating the cost of controlling nonpoint source pollution, the Administrator, EPA, should direct the Office of Water to address key limitations in its approach and presentation of the methodology and its results by: (1) including the costs of operating and maintaining best management practices; (2) assessing and disclosing the range of uncertainty associated with its control cost estimate; and (3) more fully documenting its cost estimation methodology.
Closed - Not Implemented
Agency has not addressed this recommendation; any possible action at some point down the road would be difficult to link to the message of this 5-year old report.
Environmental Protection Agency To improve EPA's approach toward estimating the cost of controlling nonpoint source pollution, the Administrator, EPA, should direct the Office of Water to work with researchers at USDA and U.S. Geological Survey to obtain lessons learned, data sources, and modeling approaches to help advance EPA's own efforts to develop a watershed-based cost-estimation approach.
Closed - Implemented
EPA indicates that it has solicited input on its methodology from USDA and other external reviewers.

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