Title: Setting Water Quality Goals that are Responsible and Realistic
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/WL00000628/00001
 Material Information
Title: Setting Water Quality Goals that are Responsible and Realistic
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Abstract: Setting Water Quality Goals that are Responsible and Realistic
General Note: Box 7, Folder 1 ( Vail Conference 1987 - 1987 ), Item 21
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: WL00000628
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Setting water quality goals that
are responsible and realistic

Traditional ways of thinking about resource issues may

be giving way to new perspectives and attitudes about

water resources management. In dealing with the issue

of setting standards for groundwater quality across the

United States, it became apparent at an April

conference sponsored by the National Water Alliance in

Colorado Springs that pending proposals to manage and

maintain groundwater quality for the next decade may be

quite difference from procedures and standards used to

maintain surface water quality in the past.

It was generally agreed by conferees at the meeting

that preservation of groundwater quality should not be

considered an environmental issue. Instead, the

primary concern should be and will become human

survival. It was agreed that assuring human survival


will of course include preserving our environment, but

preservation for its own sake is an unrealistic goal.

Considering traditional water use patterns and our

growing national population, it was proposed at the

meeting that immediate water needs and water use

pressures will inhibit our ability to maintain strict

nondegradation standards in the United States. The

concept of strict nondegradation will be more

acceptable as a "goal" than as a "standard".

With the concern for human survival rather than

preservation for preservation's sake as the primary

objective, a three-tiered, prioritized management plan

might be proposed that would include: 1) consumptive

use.(drinking water) standards; 2) nondegradation

goals; and 3) cleanup requirements.


Because over half of this country's population depends

on groundwater for its drinking water supply, the most

critical current need is for uniform national drinking

water standards to be set by the EPA.

Second in importance is the establishment of uniform

national groundwater nondegradation goals with

compliance guidelines to be developed and implemented

regionally to best accommodate diversity of need.

Finally, reclamation (cleanup) requirements should be

established that reflect a sense of reasonableness in

balancing "social net benefits" against cost of

cleanup. Here especially, the human survival

perspective would direct decision-making differently

than would a strict environmental perspective.


For the EPA to attempt to set uniform ambient standards

across the United States could be a complicated and

long-delayed process. As an interim alternative and

a health safety net the concept of a system of health

advisory indicator guidelines is suggested. While

awaiting formalized standards, such guidelines would

provide needed assessment and notification of potential

human health impact. With such information, local

officials could formulate local procedures and


The advantages of such a concept are threefold. Such

guidelines could be set before all data are in. These

guidelines could be fluid responsive to new data and

situations. And working parameters for many substances

could be set quickly.


The obvious disadvantages are that such guidelines

could easily be contested and would have to be

recognized and accepted for use without benefit of the

impact of law.

It has been suggested that we consider it unreasonable

to attempt to clean up and maintain all groundwater

supplies to meet one set of drinking water standards,

especially when only a small percentage of groundwater

is used for human consumption. A goal to ensure that

all water supplies become and remain usable for the

best attainable purpose might be more realistic than a

uniform standard such as the "fishable and swimmable"

goal of the 208 Water Ouality Act.


In the future, the viable test question may become:

What is the highest quality level to which we can bring

- and maintain a particular water supply that is both

economically reasonable and socially responsible in

assuring human survival.


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