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Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act, formally the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, was amended and renamed in 1977 with the purpose of regulating point source pollution within the boundary of United States waterways. The Environmental Protection Agency was given the power to set these regulations and allows for a predetermined quantity of toxic pollutants to be expelled into 'navigable waters' with a permit from EPA. In 1987, they began to focus on toxic substances. The main goal of the CWA is to improve the quality of our waters. The CWA does so by setting pollution standards as well as providing funds to help communities meet these standards. The CWA gives each state DEP the responsibility of identifying and reporting the quality of its waters. The results of the state's water quality inventory are published in the National Water Quality Inventory report. Finally, it is the job of individual Conservation Districts within a state to help landowners address causes of decreased water quality.

For more information on the Clean Water Act, go to the EPA's Site.

Why is clean water important?

  • We need clean water for drinking, commerce, and agriculture, as well as for improvement of our quality of life.
  • Half of Americans get their drinking water from rivers and lakes. The other half gets their drinking water from underground water sources.
  • The commercial fishing and shellfish industry is worth $45 billion and needs clean water to provide safe to eat products.
  • The soft drink industry is worth over $50 billion and uses more than 12 billion gallons of clean water each year.
  • Crops that are grown on irrigated lands add almost $70 billion to our economy each year. Clean water is necessary to grow safe, quality crops.
  • Having a clean body of water near your home can increase the home's value by 22%.
  • The tourism industry heavily relies on a clean environment because of its recreational uses.

What does this mean for you?

It is important to consider what effect you have on the environment around you and what effect the environment has on you. Clearly, clean water is a valuable resource and the supply is limited. The actions you take involving your nearby water system may directly affect you and your downstream neighbors.


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