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EPA at 50: Helping Address Emerging Water Challenges

02/24/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (February 24, 2020) — This month, in celebration of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 50th anniversary, the agency is highlighting progress in protecting America’s waters. This final week of February features EPA actions to meet emerging water challenges, including supporting innovative solutions like water reuse, recruiting the next generation of water sector workforce and helping states and local communities address PFAS.

“While acknowledging significant accomplishments the agency and its partners have made in providing Americans with access to safe water, we also see emerging challenges that require collaborative and creative solutions,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Dave Ross. “Together, we are leading efforts to address these challenges to protect public health and the environment while supporting the economy—today and for future generations.”

EPA is helping address a number of emerging challenges, including bolstering safe and reliable water supplies for human consumption, agriculture, business, industry, recreation and healthy ecosystems. While the U.S. uses less freshwater today than 25 years ago—even as population and productivity grow—40 states anticipate some freshwater shortages within their borders over the next decade. Diversifying the nation’s water portfolio is a priority for the Trump Administration and EPA is answering that challenge by advancing water reuse technology, which has the potential to ensure the viability of our water economy for generations to come. This week EPA will unveil the next step under the National Water Reuse Action Plan, a collaborative effort that represents the first initiative of its magnitude to be coordinated across the water sector. Actions taken under this plan will bolster the sustainability, security and resilience of the nation’s water resources. For more on water reuse, visit: https://www.epa.gov/waterreuse.

As EPA works to promote strategies and technologies to help address the country’s water challenges, the agency is also working to highlight the importance of recruiting and training the next generation of water utility operators to implement those approaches. With approximately one-third of drinking water and wastewater utility operators eligible to retire in the next 10 years, EPA is helping utilities attract and maintain qualified operators—everyday environmental heros who protect public health and the environment. On September 24, 2019, EPA announced its Water Workforce Initiative, which will support cities and communities facing critical staffing shortages. For more information on EPA’s efforts to support the water workforce, visit: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-water-infrastructure/water-sector-workforce and https://www.epa.gov/dwcapacity/learn-about-workforce-issues.

Additionally, aggressively addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) is an active and ongoing priority for the EPA. One year ago, the agency announced its PFAS Action Plan—the agency’s first multi-media, multi-program, national communication and research plan to address an emerging environmental challenge like PFAS. EPA continues to make progress implementing this plan, including last week’s proposed regulatory determinations for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water. For additional information on this action, visit www.epa.gov/safewater.

For more on EPA’s 50th Anniversary and how the agency is protecting America’s waters, visit: https://www.epa.gov/50.

Follow EPA’s 50th Anniversary celebration on social media using #EPAat50.