40 Years After The Clean Water Act, America's Water Is As Dirty As Ever


Photo: WikiMedia Commons

The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 and was supposed to keep pollution out of America’s lakes through EPA monitoring.But 40 years later, nothing has changed, according to a study by V. Kerry Smith and Carlos Valcarcel Wolloh at Arizona State University.

According to the study:

With data from the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Water Information System (NWIS) we find average water quality in U.S. lakes is at about the same level in 2011 as it was in 1975 with over 80 per cent of the lakes in the NWIS database consistent with fishable conditions based on measures of the levels of dissolved oxygen present in them. Thus, for freshwater lakes one could conclude nothing has changed. 

The ineffectiveness calls into question why the federal government has spent billions of dollars enforcing the Clean Water Act with the EPA.

Of course one could argue that without the legislation water pollution would have gotten worse.

Smith and Wolloh say that the government needs to find a better way:

Our water quality indexes are far from ideal. Nonetheless they provide a vehicle for
raising two important issues. First, new rules intended to improve some aspect of environmental quality should build into the implementation process a specific strategy for evaluating whether they do what is intended. At present they do not!

SEE ALSO: Pictures From The New York Harbor When It Was A Dump In The 1970s >

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