"There is little doubt that very small trace amounts of natural and synthetic drugs are showing up in waterways in some parts of the country. For instance, a stream study by the U.S. Geological Survey states: “Results show that a broad range of chemicals found in residential, industrial, and agricultural wastewaters commonly occurs in mixtures at low concentrations in streams in the United...
Clean Water Act
After the Cuyahoga River caught fire in Ohio in 1969, new pressure was exerted on the federal government to increase its role in reducing water pollution in America. The efforts culminated in the Clean Water Act, enacted on October 18, 1972. Several important amendments have since followed.
The Clean Water Act creates a number of programs and regulations to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal waste-water treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoff. These programs and regulations are established to meet the CWA's broad objective "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." The Act focuses on surface water quality and does not deal directly with ground water or with water supply issues. Like the original Clean Air Act, the CWA adopts primarily a command-and-control approach to regulation and lacked any market-based incentives to control water pollution.
No one wants polluted waters in America. Free market and limited government proponents see pollution as a violation of property rights. Environmentalists naturally see pollution as destruction of the environment, which is something to be avoided. Most Americans just want clean water.
Free market and limited government critics of the CWA take aim at the broad regulatory powers given to the Environmental Protection Agency before any substantial work was done to identify the overall condition of America's water ways. For instance, for the 2004 reporting cycle, over thirty years after the CWA was enacted, the EPA could only report on the condition of roughly 16% of the streams and rivers in America.
Today, many Americans, not just free market and limited government types, question the effectiveness of the CWA and wonder if there might be a better way forward.
More About This Topic...
Click thumbnails below to view links
- Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on the Framework for Clean Water, As Prepared
- 1969: Cuyahoga River Catches Fire
- On Its 39th Anniversary, the Clean Water Act Needs Defenders
- Fables of the Cuyahoga: Reconstructing a History of Environmental Protection
- 2011 Almanac of Environmental Trends
- Smoking Out the Cuyahoga Fire Fable: Smoke and mirrors surrounding Cleveland
- American Concern over Environmental Issues
- Clean Air Act
- The Common Law and the Environment: Rethinking the Statutory Basis for Modern Environmental Law
- Water Issues Worry Americans Most, Global Warming Least