Factors that Caused Clean Water Act to be Passed

In Reflections of water and oil, David Orr wrote: “The wise use of water is quite possibly the truest indicator of human intelligence, measurable by what we are smart enough to keep out of it, including oil, soil, toxics, and old tires.”

According to wikipedia.com, “The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution.” Originally known as the Federal Pollution Control Act which was passed in 1972, but was not amended until 1977 and re-amended in 1987, the Federal government foresaw the need to pass a law and contribute billions of dollars in regards to keep clean waters safe for swimming and fishing. “The Clean Water Act does not directly address groundwater contamination. Groundwater protection provisions are included in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Superfund act.” (wikipedia.com)

What factors caused the clean water act to be passed? According to answers.com, “The Clean Water Act is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which sets water quality standards, handles enforcement, and helps state and local governments develop their own pollution control plans.” The most direct source, also known as the point source of water pollution was the discharge from factories and businesses straight into rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. Also responsible for water pollution were the non-point sources such as the chemicals from agricultural runoff and the erosion from logging or construction activities. Another major factor increasing water pollution is the increased usage of goods and services by us daily; anything from canned goods, bottles, and packing waste. According to americanrivers.org, “Climate change will exacerbate this problem by increasing the frequency and intensity of storms, which in turn is predicted to increase sewer overflows in areas including the Great Lakes and New England.”

According to buzzle.com, in the section facts about water pollution, “about 20% of the world’s population lacks access to safe drinking water and about 50% lacks adequate sanitation. In many developing countries, rivers downstream of large cities are little cleaner than open sewers.”

The American Rivers website is currently advocating for green infrastructure storm water solutions (such as permeable pavement, green roofs, and rain gardens) in order to reduce any storm water runoff that flows into sewer systems and help triggers sewer overflows. Currently, Philadelphia is incorporating these techniques into their Clean Water Act permits. “Analysis shows that the benefits of this approach provide multiple benefits in addition to clean water including increased recreation days, better health, less traffic, and cleaner air and water.” (americanrivers.com)