WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing titled “The Nonpoint Source Management Program Under the Clean Water Act: Perspectives from States.”
The hearing featured testimony from Jennifer Zygmunt, nonpoint source program coordinator at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality; and Ben Grumbles, secretary of the environment at the Maryland Department of the Environment.
For more information on witness testimony click here.
Senator Barrasso’s remarks:
“I would like to wish you all a happy new year and welcome everyone back to the committee.
“As chairman, I look forward to another very productive year.
“Last year, the committee advanced bipartisan transportation infrastructure legislation.
“This year, the full Senate will pass that legislation, so we can build better roads, bridges, and highways.
“We will be working on legislation to support critical water infrastructure, such as dams, locks, and levees.
“We will also continue to work together to advance legislation to protect America’s air, water, and wildlife.
“Our committee has a proven track record of working across the aisle to get important legislation done.
“I look forward to having that continue in 2020.
“Today’s hearing is a great way to start the year by examining a popular program that improves water quality through cooperation, not regulation.
“This program is the nonpoint source management program under the Clean Water Act.
“Established in 1987, this program recognizes that controlling water pollution is not a one-size-fits-all issue.
“Nonpoint sources are ones that do not come out of a pipe or confined source.
“They are everywhere – runoff from roads in urban areas, to water from agricultural operations, to sediment from construction sites and eroding streambanks.
“For that reason, Congress correctly recognized the best way to address nonpoint source pollution is to empower states.
“States come up with solutions that work for them.
“Washington provides grant funding for states to implement their programs.
“States must secure other funding to leverage those federal dollars.
“The program is more than 30 years old.
“It has had many successes.
“We want to make sure it is working as effectively as possible.
“That is why we are having this hearing today.
“We are honored to welcome two experts from very different parts of the country, but both realize how important this is.
“From Wyoming, we have Jennifer Zygmunt, who is the nonpoint source program coordinator at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
“Wyoming has some of the cleanest air, water and land in the country.
“Wyoming is home to headwaters that supply water throughout the country.
“The four major river basins fed by Wyoming are – the Missouri-Mississippi, the Green-Colorado, the Snake-Columbia, and the Great Salt Lake.
“Wyoming also uses a variety of industries that rely on water supply and reuse, including energy production, ranching, farming.
“Effective conservation and cleanup of water in Wyoming requires flexibility and a deep understanding of our water systems.
“The nonpoint source program was designed to do just that – give states flexibility to manage water and to reduce pollution in a way best suited to a state’s needs.
“From 1999 to 2018, Wyoming funded 164 projects under its nonpoint source management program.
“As a result of the program, 15 stream and river segments – more than 187 miles in length – are now clean.
“In 2018, Wyoming completed six projects.
“Those projects reduced sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus and E. Coli loading in Wyoming’s rivers and streams.
“Sediment loading alone fell by more than 40,000 tons per year.
“The U.S. EPA has published a number of Wyoming’s nonpoint source projects as model success stories.
“One EPA-published example occurred near my hometown of Casper, Wyoming where yesterday the wind was blowing 79 miles an hour.
“Parts of Wyoming have naturally high levels of selenium in the soil.
“Several years of cooperative work between the Natrona County Conservation District, the State of Wyoming, local landowners, and number of other organizations, led to selenium levels falling in the North Platte River.
“Selenium levels in the river dramatically decreased due to education, outreach, and voluntary implementation of best management practices.
“These efforts included converting hundreds of acres from flood irrigation to sprinkler irrigation and replacing open irrigation ditches with underground pipelines.
“A 36 mile segment of the North Platte River now meets water quality criterion for selenium.
“I look forward to hearing more about Wyoming’s successes through this program during today’s testimony.
“I also look forward to hearing from Secretary Ben Grumbles from Maryland.
“Home to the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland has critical challenges that I know Secretary Grumbles will discuss.”