Water: Liquid Assets
Liquid Assets 2000: Executive Summary
Each summer millions of Americans head to the water--a lake, an oceanfront, or their favorite river--for a few days of relaxation and recreation. Billions of dollars will be spent this summer on food, lodging, and fuel, as well as special equipment, licenses, and services, so people can enjoy themselves on and around the water. But throughout the country, our economy and our summertime traditions are affected by closed beaches, fewer fish to catch, and other casualties of dirty water.
We have made tremendous progress cleaning up America's waters over the past 30 years. The nation's significant investment to upgrade sewage treatment plants and minimize industrial discharges has removed billions of pounds of pollutants from our waterways and doubled the number of waters safe for fishing and swimming.
Despite this resounding success, we still face significant challenges. An overwhelming majority of Americans--218 million--live within 10 miles of a polluted lake, river, stream, or coastal area. States have identified almost 300,000 miles of rivers and streams and more than 5 million acres of lakes that do not meet state water quality goals. Many of these waters are not considered safe for swimming and are unable to support healthy fish or other aquatic life.
The U.S. Economy Depends on Clean Water
The Costs of Dirty Water
Our economy depends on clean water; we all pay when it is polluted. Contamination of drinking water sources means higher health risks and increased treatment costs. Closed beaches and contaminated rivers mean lost revenue for local businesses that serve tourists, anglers, and recreationists. Swimmers at polluted beaches and lakes face possible threats from viruses and bacteria.
Each year Americans pay for dirty water:
Achieving Cleaner Waters Across America
Over the next decade, we must continue efforts to reduce pollution from industry, sewage treatment plants, and polluted runoff. The goal of clean, safe water will require state and locally led efforts to identify and clean up the lakes, rivers, and streams that are still polluted. Using flexible, common-sense guidelines backed by tough state water quality standards and driven by partnerships between government and private sector organizations at every level, this generation of Americans can be the first in more than a century to enjoy fishable, swimmable, and drinkable water in every community.
Liquid Assets 2000: America's Water Resources at a Turning Point provides a snapshot of the economic value of clean water, the problems we face in the new millennium, and the actions we must take to protect and restore the nation's water resources. This report explores the current condition of the nation's water resources and demonstrates the link between clean water and a strong economy by focusing on specific businesses and activities that rely on clean water.
There are a myriad of exciting efforts under way to help improve water quality in communities throughout the country. America's water resources are at a turning point. The choice of clean water for all Americans is ours.
"Every child deserves to grow up with water that is pure to drink, lakes that are safe for swimming, rivers that are teeming with fish. We have to act now to combat pollution challenges with new protections to give all our children the gift of clean, safe water in the 21st century."
-- President William J. Clinton