The good news is Utah's air and water are much cleaner than they were 20 years ago. The bad news is there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Jim Scherer, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Region VIII, was in Provo Tuesday to present an award to Provo's water reclamation plant. The plant received the 1990 award for excellence in maintenance and operations for EPA Region VIII.The region includes Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and North and South Dakota.

"It is terrific to see all that companies and individuals are doing to mitigate pollution," he said.

Mobile sources are the largest contributors to air pollution, said Scherer. "Vehicle travel-milesare the major contribution to small particulate pollution as well as carbon monoxide pollution." He said road dust and salts are stirred up by vehicles, adding to particulate pollution.

Companies choosing to invest in equipment to reduce pollutants before regulations are imposedshow a "willingness to step up and do it right," Scherer said. "It is happening, and it makes my job a lot easier."

He said he has been impressed with the investment Geneva Steel has made toward cleaning up the environment. The current emissions from the plant are not acceptable, Scherer said, but the plant's schedule for reducing emissions indicates that "Geneva is going to be there." The EPA realizes that it takes time to come into compliance with clean air standards, he said.

"The thrust of the agency is to delegate," Scherer said. The EPA prefers to help a state run its pollution control implementation plan the state's way. In the case of areas with severe pollution problems, the EPA has to administer the program.

Los Angeles requires monitoring by the EPA because of carbon monoxide levels, and Phoenix, Ariz., has a serious ozone problem, especially in the summer when the air conditioners are used, he said.

Scherer thinks Utah County will be able to meet the requirements of the new Clean Air Act, based on the implementation plan devised. He said the plan will be sent to EPAheadquarters in Washington, D.C., for approval.

Scherer said Utah is just keeping up with regulations for clean water. Region VIII has more difficulty than many regions because of economic conditions, said Scherer.