Great news! For the first time, the Environmental Protection Agency is offering nearly one million dollars in grants to reduce toxics throughout the Columbia River Basin.
The Columbia River Basin is one of the nation’s largest watersheds, providing drainage for hundreds of streams and rivers. It’s a place with a long and unique history – the tribal people of the region have depended on the Columbia River and native fish species for thousands of years for spiritual, cultural, and nutritional sustenance. The Basin is also currently heavily used for agriculture, transportation, recreation, urban communities, and hydropower, all of which impact water quality.
And until recently, it was the only large aquatic ecosystem in the U.S. that received no dedicated funding to monitor and clean up toxic chemicals.
A couple of years ago, we changed that. In December 2016, Congress passed my bill, the Columbia River Basin Restoration Act, which directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a Columbia River Basin restoration program offering competitive grants for “environmental protection and restoration programs throughout the Basin.”
Toxins are present throughout the Columbia Basin and are harmful to humans, fish, and wildlife. Some of these toxins are known to cause cancer and have been linked with neurological, developmental, and reproductive problems including birth defects and learning disabilities. No ecosystem can thrive with this type of pollution.
We have a responsibility to protect and restore this iconic river system. I fought hard for this new program to reduce pollution and improve the water quality in the Columbia River Basin. Under the cloud of what I consider to be the administration’s disastrous environmental record, this program is a bright spot. Find out more from EPA here.