EPA Leisure Enhancements on Ogden and Weber Rivers

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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Ogden, Utah — Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) visited Ogden, Utah to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. The event was attended by Radhika Fox, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, KC Becker, EPA Regional Administrator, Kim Shelley, Director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Michael Caldwell, Mayor of Ogden City. The celebration was also attended by state and local officials, representatives from various interest groups and community members who came together to recognize and celebrate the achievements of the cleanup efforts in the Ogden and Lower Weber River watersheds.

“When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972 with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, it blazed a new trail for America’s waters. As a result, we have seen transformational advances over the past 50 years, and many rivers that were once heavily polluted are now recreational attractions that connect everyone to nature,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “The advances that have been made in the Ogden and Weber rivers, and the benefits that have been experienced by communities across the region, show how investing in water resources invests in people. Through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, President Biden and Congress have committed to protecting our vital water resources for the next 50 years and beyond.”

“Ogden is an exemplary place to recognize collective achievements under the EPA’s Clean Water Act at the 50 Celebration Tour,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “The community’s efforts to mobilize federal funds and the hard work and dedication of many partners have created inspiring spaces that connect residents directly to the beauty of the Ogden and Weber Rivers. These outstanding achievements show that urban areas and clean rivers can coexist.”

Five decades of implementation of the Clean Water Act have reduced direct discharges of contaminants into our nation’s waterways and improved wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. This progress was based on strong partnerships between EPAs; and state, local and tribal governments; and community and environmental organizations, industry and agriculture.

The Clean Water Act, including the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs), has invested more than $2,350,000 in restoring the Ogden and Weber Rivers. Using various partnerships and funding sources, the EPA, the State of Utah and many other partners removed more than 18,000 tons of concrete, metal, trash and tires from the rivers. This combined effort has transformed the entire watershed into an outdoor oasis revered for kayaking, fishing and outdoor recreation. Additionally, their efforts have increased access to ensure all community members have a chance to enjoy the benefits of the rivers. With the new and existing SRF loan funds, a 10% reserve for green projects will allow states to fund projects that also combat drought and resilience.

“As one of the driest states in the nation, facing ongoing drought and growing pressures, Utah must do what it can to protect, restore, and improve the water bodies we have.” said Kim Shelley, executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. “We are grateful that with the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we now have more resources to make critical investments for a water-proof future.”

“It is truly unique to live in a community where two major waterways converge,” said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell. “We strive to maintain the highest standards on our rivers, as evidenced by our recent recognition of the 2022 Utah Outdoor Summit Award for Funding Project of the Year and our rare status of having a Blue Ribbon Urban Fishery.”

As EPA continues its nationwide tour in celebration of the Clean Water Act, the agency is also working with its partners to chart a course for the next 50 years of clean water progress. The bipartisan Infrastructure Act (BIL) has provided a historic investment in water infrastructure, including $12.7 billion through the SRF programs established by the Clean Water Act amendments of 1987.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary on October 18, the national tour will highlight water bodies essential for healthy people, vibrant ecosystems, agricultural productivity and economic growth. Other stops include Puget Sound, Florida Everglades, Chesapeake Bay, Great Lakes, Cuyahoga River and more.

Read the full press release on the EPA website here.

© Copyright 2022 United States Environmental Protection AgencyNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 263