The lower part of Seattle’s Duwamish River was declared a Superfund site in 2001. That means the polluters have to work with the Environmental Protection Agency to clean it up. More than ten years later, the EPA and the polluters are close to proposing a clean up plan. But there’s still some debate about how clean this river should be.
A significant source of water pollution, muddy runoff from logging roads, is stirring up controversy in the Northwest. A lawsuit that began in Oregon will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. Its ruling will determine exactly how the Clean Water Act applies to the hundreds of thousands of miles of logging and forest roads.
When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, its foremost goal was to halt the widespread toxic industrial dumping that left urban rivers in flames in the 1960s. Those problems have been largely solved. Now, agricultural water pollution is getting more scrutiny.
The water that goes down the drains and toilets of millions of homes ends up funneling into drain fields, septic tanks, or wastewater treatment plants. But that’s not the end of the line. All that water — along with everyday chemicals, pharmaceuticals and human hormones — ends up in groundwater, rivers, lakes, and bays.
For all of the Clean Water Act’s successes, it was never designed to control contaminants that have emerged since its passage in 1972. These pollutants are affecting the environment in new and different ways. Consider the feminized fish of Puget Sound.
A major goal of the 1972 Clean Water Act was to stop cities and towns from discharging raw sewage. The federal government gave communities billion of dollars to build wastewater treatment plants. But those early grants are gone and those plants have aged.
Peter Maier is waging a lonely campaign against the Environmental Protection Agency. He’s zeroed in on a test the agency uses to determine how far plant operators must go to treat wastewater before returning it to America’s rivers, lakes and bays.
The Clean Water Act took effect 40 years ago Thursday. In 1972, stormwater pollution was nowhere near a top priority. Today, it’s taken the lead as the top water contaminator. How bad is it? Puget Sound diver Laura James takes us where nobody wants to go — inside a stormwater outfall — to get an upclose look.
At least since the 1970s, Scientists and engineers have been devising methods to intercept contaminant-laced rainwater that sloughs off hard surfaces. Yet these methods still are not widely mandated, making stormwater a leading reason the Clean Water Act –- passed into law 40 years ago today -– has failed to meet its goals.
OPB's Cassandra Profita is busy this summer blogging about water in the Northwest. Keep up with her and all her findings at Ecotrope's Clean Water: The Next Act.
Join us for a live online community chat for the anniversary of the Clean Water Act, Wednesday, October 17 11am-Noon. Our team of journalists will share some of the highlights from our Clean Water: The Next Act series of reports. And we'll bring other folks into the conversation to learn how communities around the Pacific Northwest are addressing pollution in local waterways.
The Clean Water Act is now 40 years old. Join us as we take a look back at the time of the creation of the Act in 1972, the water quality challenges we face today and the future of the Clean Water Act.
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