50% of U.S. Lakes and Rivers Are Too Polluted for Swimming, Fishing, Drinking - EcoWatchThe Clean Water Act was a landmark legislative achieveme...50% of U.S. Lakes and Rivers Are Too Polluted for Swimming, Fishing, Drinking - EcoWatch
The Clean Water Act was a landmark legislative achievement when it was passed in 1972. It promised to end the discharge of all pollutants into navigable waters by 1985, according to the press release. However, it has fallen short of that goal for several reasons, according to the report.
The act has strong controls for pollution pumped directly into waterways from factories or sewage plants but not for indirect pollution such as agricultural runoff from factory farms.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has dragged its feet in updating industry-specific technology-based limits for water pollution control systems. By 2022, two-thirds of these industry-specific limits had not been updated in more than 30 years.
- Budget cuts have hampered the ability of the EPA and state agencies to enforce the law.
- Permit requirements are poorly enforced.
- Total Maximum Daily Loads, a kind of pollution control plan, are insufficient.
- There are problems effectively managing watersheds that cover two or more states.
- The report also broke down pollution by state. Indiana has the most miles of rivers and streams too impaired for swimming and recreation.