Twenty-five years ago, only one-third of the nationís waters were
safe for fishing and swimming. Wetland losses were estimated at about
460,000 acres per year. Agricultural runoff resulted in the erosion
of 2.25 billion tons of soil and the deposit of large amounts of phosphorus
and nitrogen into many waters. In addition to this, water treatment
plants only served 8 million people. If this trend were to continue,
most of the water today would be contaminated. Something had to be
done by the government to prevent this from happening.
In 1972, Congress enacted the first comprehensive national clean water legislation in response to growing public health concern for serious and widespread water pollution. The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law that protects the health of our nationís waters, including lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. The Clean Water Actís primary objective is to restore and maintain the integrity of the nationís waters. The objective translates into two fundamental national goals: to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into the nationís waters, and to achieve water quality levels that are fishable and swimmable.
The Clean Water Act focuses on improving the quality of the nationís waters. It provides a comprehensive framework of standards, technical tools, and financial assistance to address the many causes of pollution and poor water quality, including municipal and industrial wastewater discharges, polluted runoff from urban and rural areas, and habitat destruction. For example, the Clean Water Act requires major industries to meet performance standards to ensure pollutiuon control, it also charges states with setting specific water quality criteria appropriate for their waters and developing pollution control programs to meet them. It provides funding to states and communities to help them meet their clean water infrastructure needs, and it protects valuable wetlands and other aquatic habitats through a permitting process that ensures development and other activities are conducted in an environmentally sound manner.
After twenty-five years, the Act continues to provide a clear path for clean water and a solid foundation for an effective national water program. Today, two-thirds of our waters are safe for fishing and swimming, the loss of wetlands is only 70,000-90,000 acres, the amount of soil loss to agricultural runoff has been cut by a billion tons annually and the phosphorus and nitrate levels are down, and modern wastewater treatment facilities serve 173 million people.
The future is clear in terms of our water. Under the Clinton Administration,
10 billion dollars has been invested to help communities protect water
quality, and fight back attempts to weaken the nationís most successful
River Project Abstract
Before the Clean Water Act, the Cuyahoga River was in critical
condition. In 1969, the river caught on fire, which really put a
bad reputation on the city of Cleveland. This greatly contributed to the
passing of the Clean Water Act in 1972. The Clean Water Act provided
45% of the funds necessary to make drastic improvements on the water quality
of the Cuyahoga River. My project is in regards to the way that Cleveland
cleaned up the Cuyahoga River with the aid of the Clean Water Act.
Water Environment Federation. Profiles in Water Quality: Clear Success, Continued Challenge.
"Clean Water Act." Comptonís Interactive Encyclopedia. 1998 Edition.
Comptonís Home Library. TLC Properties Inc., 1997.
For more information:
1) Ohio Water Environment Association, Nancy E. Mergel, 614-861-6942
2) The Water Environment Federation, 601 Wythe St., Alexandria, VA 22314-1994 USA. Phone: (703) 684-2492. Fax: (703) 684-2492. http://www.wef.org
Jeff Damert What has the Clean Water Act Accomplished?
The Clean Water Act was created to solve some of our nation's
water pollution problems. It set up guidelines for the quality of
waters in the US. Since it became a law, the CWA has greatly influenced
the ability of our country to meet these guidelines. About twice
as many waters are now fishable and swimmable than they were in the 70's.
Pollution in the form of toxic pollutants and industrial discharge has
been greatly reduced. The Great Lakes, along with many other bodies of
water, have been completely revitalized since the Clean Water Act went
into effect. Wildlife are reaping the benefits of lower pollution.
New jobs and revenue have been generated because of tourism. Much
still needs to be done, however. Nonpoint source pollution and toxins
still need to be reduced. Overall, the Clean Water Act has been a great