Clean Water Act
(Part 3 of 5: Clean Water Epidemic)
The Clean Water Act
Created in 1972 as a means of eliminating amount of waste and other pollutants being dumped into our natural water supplies; rivers, lakes, wetlands, bays, etc. However, over the years, the Clean Water Act has become more of a loose “guideline,” as many companies and agencies have begun increasing the amount of waste being dumped into natural water resources. According to Clean Water Action, two polluter friendly Supreme Court decisions are the major culprits. “More than half the nation’s small streams and nearly 20 million acres of wetlands have been vulnerable to pollution and destruction because of confusion about whether or not they are protected under the Clean Water Act.” With over 180 million tons of waste being disposed into our global water supplies, it’s easy to see why people are clamoring for a change!
What’s at Stake?
Over 117 million Americans depend on these natural water supplies as a primary source for clean drinking water. In fact, one in three Americans get their drinking water from public systems that rely on headwater and seasonal streams. In addition to clean drinking water, wetlands provide flood protection, recharge groundwater supplies, filter pollution, and provide essential wildlife habitat. These resources are also economic drivers for our communities; farming, fishing, hunting, craft-brewers, etc. all depend on clean water. For example, the stream fishing industry generates nearly $115 billion in economic activity per year.
Present Day Proposals
According to the organization Clean Water Action, in March 2014, President Obama initiated a “long overdue proposal to protect most streams and wetlands,” that will ensure that the drinking water for nearly one third of all Americans is no longer at risk of pollution. Because protection for many of the nation’s streams and wetlands has been confusing, complex, and time-consuming as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006, these new rules are set to clarify any confusion there may have been regarding the original Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule will ensure protected waters are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand. However, with any implementation of rules, there is always an opposition.