Did you know that 63 million people in the United States are exposed to drinking water that is unsafe to consume?
Chemicals, inorganic materials, and metals are often found in water, which can be harmful for human consumption.
One of the biggest measures put in place to address this issue is the Clean Water Act.
Continue reading to discover the most basic information about the Clean Water Act and how it impacts the environment!
It Started in the 40s
The Clean Water Act (CWA) began in 1948 in the United States under the name of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
It wasn’t until 1972 that the Clean Water Act became what it is known as of today after it had been restructured and expanded upon. While Nixon was President, he began the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. This drew attention to the condition of water in the United States.
The Clean Water Act was one of the first steps to address water pollution and awareness. Before the act was presented, water pollution was not well regulated and there were many safety issues.
Makes it Unlawful to Discharge Pollutants
The CWA includes a portion that states how it is against the law to discharge pollutants to anywhere that could lead to navigable waters.
This means that pollutants couldn’t be released in the lakes, rivers, or oceans. The EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System helps regulate pollutants. This program also monitors pipes and ditches that people commonly use to release chemicals and pollutants.
If an industrial or municipal company needs to get rid of pollutants that lead to surface water, they must get a permit to do so.
Associated with the Office of Water
The Office of Water is a group that helps ensure water is safe to drink. They deal with the oceans, watersheds, and other ecosystems.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helps oversee both the Clean Water Act and the Office of Water. The EPA is involved because they help deal with general health and the environment in the United States.
The Office of Water is an important factor to the CWA because it helps provide stable and healthy environments for fish, plants, and wildlife. Many people think that the CWA just helps humans drink safe water, but it goes much further beyond humans.
Rivers Were in Poor Condition
Before the Clean Water Act was enacted and enforced, rivers were in such poor condition that they were set on fire.
There were high levels of chemicals and pollutants in the water that led to fires and the water smelt terribly. In 1969, the Rouge River in Detroit set on fire, along with another fire in Buffalo in 1968. At this point, Nixon was beginning to realize how big an issue polluted water was becoming.
The pollutants that were to blame for these fires in the river consisted mainly of oil waste and debris that was floating on the top. Since oil is so flammable, it was difficult to put these river fires out and get them controlled. It was a concern for human safety, along with the wildlife and fish that lived in the ecosystem.
Focuses on Risk Management
The Clean Water Act not only regulates pollutants from going into the water but also takes part in risk management.
Wastewater treatment helps increase the natural processing time to purify water. The water treatment starts screening with Arkal filters, then there is a clarifier and aeration. After the water has gone through these phases, it is chlorinated to be disinfected and then undergoes heavy testing.
The testing helps ensure that the water is safe for consumption and recreational use. The CWA does an excellent job at creating plans to help prevent problems from occurring or getting worse over time. The group works with other agencies to develop risk management plans so that rivers won’t catch on fire and so that people have safe water to consume.
There Is a Lot of Paperwork Involved
The CWA is a federal law that requires a lot of documentation for water pollution and prevention.
They are responsible for establishing and maintaining records. These records include details about equipment used, samples, and stormwater pollution prevention plans. There are many permits involved with the CWA that must be thoroughly reviewed and accepted.
The reason that there is so much paperwork involved is that the government must have evidence and information that they can look back at. The agencies associated with the CWA are frequently making countermeasure plans, which is known at SPCC. All of this documentation makes it easier to spot areas of improvement and the reasons for polluted areas.
Pollutants That the CWA Deals With
The Clean Water Act is meant to keep all pollutants out of surface area waters but focuses on certain ones.
Petroleum, fuel oil, and oil refuse are some of the top concerns for people in this industry. They also help monitor sludge, fats, and oil, that are released into the water. This includes fats and oils that come from vegetable oil, meats, and seeds.
The Clean Water Act monitors through the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure plans (SPCC). The SPCC does what it can to prevent these pollutants from entering waterway systems in the United States and the shorelines.
Do You Understand the Clean Water Act?
Although the Clean Water Act didn’t become what it is known as today until the early 70s, there have been measures in place since the 40s.
Nixon did an excellent job addressing pollutants in the waterway systems. Especially after rivers were catching on fire and producing foul smells. When the CWA began, it helped manage pollutants entering surface water areas and made it illegal to dump anything without a permit.
The CWA works closely with other federal programs and industries to ensure the safety of water consumption for humans. They also help protect wildlife, fish, and animals in the ecosystem from polluted water.
Be sure to check out our blog for more articles about water treatment and the effects of pollutions!