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Celebrate Clean Water!

2012 October 19

Our waterways no longer catch on fire. The idea that industrial waste was so thick it appeared you could walk across rivers – inconceivable.

Back then even when the hazards were blazing before our eyes, it took decades to collectively realize and act that our rivers were not dumping grounds. Wouldn’t it be nice to share what has been accomplished with those who felt helpless years ago?

Celebrating the Clean Water Act. Photo Credits: City Pump Station Discharges Sewage into the Cuyahoga River, July, 1973 photo by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz for Documerica; Cuyahoga River Fire, 1952 Cleveland Press Collection; September 2012, Pete Cassell for State of the Environment.

Celebrating the Clean Water Act. Photo Credits: City Pump Station Discharges Sewage into the Cuyahoga River, July, 1973 photo by Frank J. Aleksandrowicz for Documerica; Cuyahoga River Fire, 1952 Cleveland Press Collection; September 2012, Pete Cassell for State of the Environment.

Forty years of the Clean Water Act has provided us with success stories that we can see, but also feel. In many places and hopefully near you; fishing, swimming, and paddling is possible again.

We’re in a better place than the bystanders watching the Cuyahoga River blaze in 1952, but we still have to want our water to be clean. Challenges await our action. Nutrient pollution is increasingly harming local streams to coastal waters. New pollutants are making their way from our wastewater and runoff into our environment and back into our bodies. There is still work to do, but it’s anything but hopeless.

 Join the celebrations, join us as we look to our future.

Three Way Cool Ways to Celebrate

Check out milestones, inspiration as the Clean Water Act turns 40!

New app! Check up on your local waterway

Act Simply for a Difference
Such as, be as mindful about what goes down your drain as with what comes out the faucet. Pledge easy steps, watch your part of the world get a bit greener.

What are our water challenges today?

What are our water challenges today? Photo credits: June, 1973 Foam on the Polluted Androscoggin River, Seen from the North Bridge at Lewiston, Textile Center and Second Largest City in the State by Charles Steinhacker for Documerica.'Now' State of the Environment Photo, October, 2012 by Munroe Graham.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

3 Responses
  1. Vijverpompen In Almere permalink
    October 20, 2012

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I really feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

  2. orif permalink
    October 20, 2012

    Every day U S water going to be better in the world

  3. Andrew B. permalink
    October 29, 2012

    For 40 years, the Clean Water Act has had a goal to clean up all of our Nation’s waters and return them to a fishable and swimmable condition. While it may not have made “all” of the waters fishable and swimmable, it has had a huge impact on the water quality in the United States, and continues to clean up our waterways. In my hometown of South Bend, IN I have heard elderly people talk about how the river through our town used to be so polluted that fish rotted on the shores and emitted a stench in the summer that could be smelled from miles away. After the Clean Water Act was enacted, the St. Joe River slowly but surely made a recovery. Today, that river that used to be choked with pollution, is now a thriving fishery, a recreational attraction, and one of my favorite places to spend time kayaking and fishing. This story is a common theme throughout the nation. Waters like the Cuyahoga River that famously caught fire, and spurred on legislative action, are now in full recovery and in a condition that was unimaginable before the Clean Water Act.

    As we celebrate the Clean Water Act’s 40th anniversary, we should be proud of our Nation’s commitment to clean water and the effectiveness of our water quality programs. However, now that we have accomplished 2/3 of what we set out to do (making all waters fishable and swimmable), it might be time think about what we need to clean up that final 1/3 of US waters. As we look towards the future of water quality in the US, it seems necessary that the Water Quality Act be given updated tools to meet its original goals and also address new water quality problems. For example, the Clean Water Act strictly regulates point source pollutants, but non-point sources of water pollution are largely going unchecked. This contributes to nutrient pollution problems which are widespread across the US. By revising the Clean Water Act to address current and future needs we will continue the legacy of the original law and allow the nation to forge a strong path to clean and healthy waters.

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