Environmentalists are marking the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act with a call to further protect the country’s waterways, citing official data that shows about half of the rivers, streams and lakes in the U.S. are severely polluted and fail to meet quality standards the act established.
The Hill reported that the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) found roughly 51 percent of rivers and streams, 55 percent of lake acres, and 26 percent of estuary miles to be “impaired” and unable to meet EPA standards for swimming, fishing or as sources of drinking water, according to state data cited in the group’s analysis.
Congress passed the landmark legislation in 1972 to help build and maintain wastewater treatment plants, halt the discharge of toxic pollutants directly into waterways and establish a regulatory framework that industries must abide by. The report argues that poor funding, lax enforcement, and a failure to periodically review and update industrial water pollution standards has given oil refineries, chemical plants, and factory farms free rein to serve as massive sources of indirect contamination.
The report made several recommendations to address the gap between the CWA’s goals and reality, such as ensuring that EPA and other agencies carry out their mandate under existing law and that lawmakers expand the act to ensure that it is an effective tool to prevent illegal and harmful discharges to public water bodies.
To read the full story, go here: https://thehill.com/changing-america/sustainability/environment/600070-about-half-of-us-water-too-polluted-for-swimming