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Hearing from allies in the fight for our environment

2010 April 8

As a communications person, sometimes it’s hard to feel directly connected to EPA’s mission. How does editing a speech help protect human health and the environment? I’m not a scientist assessing monitoring data or an enforcement officer…enforcing things. I write about what they do.

Recently, though, I had an opportunity to get a little more involved by helping create an online discussion forum to get insights from the public on some of the biggest problems facing our nation’s water resources. We debuted Coming Together for Clean Water in mid-March and took public comments on watershed management, nutrient pollution, and stormwater management for two weeks so that we could get broad input on these topics in advance of EPA’s upcoming conference of the same title. The conference will convene about 100 executive-level leaders from across the water sector to discuss these three topics. The comments from the online forum will be shared with conference participants.

We received hundreds of thoughtful, detailed comments from people involved in all aspects of the water sector—state environment officials, engineers, advocates, and interested citizens. A lot of participants seemed to want to harness the momentum of the environmental movement by ramping up outreach efforts. By making people feel ownership of their watersheds, rivers, and lakes, we can help them become partners in caring for these resources.

Moderating the comments and watching the conversation grow on this forum (or being the “blog mama,” as I called it) was a great experience. Reading so many great suggestions for addressing water pollution, frustrations about what’s not working, and success stories made me realize that EPA is not in the environmental fight alone—we’ve got lots of willing partners from all walks of life, and they are eager to share their experiences.

About the author: Jennah Durant works on the Office of Water communications team. This blog is part of an ongoing series about EPA’s efforts toward the Open Government Directive that lays out the Obama Administration’s commitment to Open Government and the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    April 9, 2010

    It’s around 80’s I met with Water User farmer, here, to dialogue and share about water using in their area. These dialogues are two ways communication, it’s rarely moment that time. Simple language but depth their experiences. Now, democracy reform (?), I watch TV, they are angry to government and destruction of govt. facilities……

  2. Al Bannet permalink
    April 9, 2010

    I was unaware of that forum, or I certainly would have posted my opinion there.

  3. Hired Mind permalink
    April 9, 2010

    I, too, would have wanted to participate in the survey. There are many examples of newly created opportunities for the public to learn about environmental protection and green activities that are easily implemented.
    On the other hand, there is my recent experience trying to access information about a flocculant a mining company proposes to use in their experimental in situ borehole mining project that involves a UIC well, hydraulic fracturing, wastewater disposal into the groundwater after having been treated with the mystery chemical. There is no information on the Internet about this chemical; my calls to the CDC, DNR, EPA, US Army Corps, and some other numbers those agencies referred me to, yielded no information. No one had ever heard of the chemical, and there are no records of the manufacturer’s testing protocols and results. However, the CDC receptionist apologetically admitted that there is somewhat of a loophole in Federal guidelines for reporting requirements and regulations because the statutes do not require manufacturers to test chemicals that are considered “trade secrets”; and only those companies required to file with the SEC need report chemicals used in their operations. Can this actually be true? How unfortunate for the vulnerable and unsuspecting public!
    More perplexing is that the mining company would not disclose information regarding potential hazards, remediation methods, synergistic properties, etc., to the public, nor in their EAW. And the DNR representative at the public forum didn’t show concern about this either. The scientific experts who wrote the EAW have only volunteered that the chemical is environmentally safe. Hmmmmm, isn’t that what was said about DDT and Agent Orange, and Vermiculite, and….well, you get the point.
    If only Fed and State statutes regarding groundwater and what you can put into it included stronger requirements for permitting, and followed through with more muscular enforcement of statutes when industry users impact aquifers supplying lake water and drinking water.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    April 11, 2010

    Stormwater control is a big concern in south Orange County now because it has been shown that water pollution’s root cause is stormwater runoff from built up urban and rural agricultural areas. The San Diego District of the Water Quality Control Board has just approved tough new regulations on storm water. All of it possible should be captured and reused but the water not captured must be allowed to naturally go into the ground instead of runoff into storm drains. Walks, roads and parking lots can all be made of porus material that will allow stormwater to filter down into the soil. There will be better dry runoff controls in construction sites. And most dry runoff will be prohibited with few exceptions like using the water needed to put out fires. We are planning to do all we can to clean up creeks, rivers, and coast of South Orange County and create new green jobs and green building materials in the construction industry in the process. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Rod A. permalink
    November 10, 2010

    I wish I would have know about this forum as well. My beef is concerning the agriculture discharge in the watershed. It’s troubling.

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