Report highlights challenges facing clean water in America

Why are so many of America's waterways still polluted 50 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act?

Jody Claborn via Flickr | Public Domain
Fifty years after the Clean Water Act's passage, much of America's water is still polluted.

Fifty years after the Clean Water Act was first signed into law, why are America’s waterways still so polluted?

That’s the question that Environment America’s report, “Wasting out Waterways,” tries to answer. Released on Sept. 28, the report shows that polluters poured nearly 200 million pounds of toxic substances into U.S. waterways in 2020. The release of these toxics stands in stark contrast to the Clean Water Act’s stated objective of eliminating direct discharges of pollution by 1985.

“Despite five decades of progress under the Clean Water Act, pollution problems continue to threaten our waterways,” said John Rumpler, senior director of Environment America’s Clean Water for America campaign.

“At a time when powerful interests are pushing to limit the reach of the law, this report shows that the nation should mark the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act by recommitting to its goals of swimmable, fishable waters for all and an end to toxic dumping that threatens our health and our environment.”

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