Columbia River Needs More Protection
by Scott Learn
Regulators need more stringent water quality standards to protect the Columbia River from toxic pollution, a group led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says in a proposed "toxics reduction action plan."
The draft plan is the next step in an EPA effort to cut toxic pollution in the Columbia basin, which the EPA listed in 2006 as a priority ecosystem in the same class as Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and Puget Sound.
But those areas have all received extra money as a result of the designation. The Columbia hasn't, leaving the plan developed by an EPA-led working group to focus mainly on tightening regulations and improving data collection along the river.
Regulators, including the EPA, state agencies and local governments, should bump up water quality standards, tighten stormwater controls and increase inspections and enforcement, the plan says.
The plan also calls for helping farmers and growers reduce pesticide use and raising awareness of toxic pollution among the basin's residents. The Columbia River Toxics Reduction Working Group will discuss the draft plan at its meeting Thursday.
A state of the river report issued last year recommended focusing on four contaminants: mercury, the now-banned pesticide DDT, industrial PCBs and PBDE flame retardants.
Toxic Contaminants and Their Effects on Salmonids Morace, Johnson & Nilsen, Science Policy Exchange, 9/11/9
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