Today marks 50 years of the Clean Water Act
Fifty years ago today, the US revised and created one of its most important environmental laws. The Clean Water Act reduces the release of pollutants into water and regulates surface water quality.
In 1969, the Cuyahoga River famously caught on fire - not once but 13 times.
It was one of many events that spurred the American environmental movement and the development of the Clean Water Act in 1972.
In an anniversary event commemorating the law, state officials discussed Michigan’s ongoing water quality issues, which include nonpoint source pollution, emerging contaminants and the impacts of climate change.
Phil Argiroff is with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE)en. He said CWA has made many strides in protecting water, but some of its provisions could be updated and strengthened.
“One of the main goals in Title 1 of the Clean Water Act was elimination of pollution by 1985," Argiroff said. "We obviously didn’t meet that but it’s a great philosophical goal for the Clean Water Act.”
Zach Richardson is a Climate Action Officer with EGLE. He said climate change highlights the need for protecting water resources.
“That will increase access to recreational opportunities and protect biodiversity while also capturing greenhouse gas emissions," Richardson said. "We have the means to act, particularly with the influx of federal dollars, this is a really pivotal moment.”
Some successes from the Clean Water Act in Michigan include programs on wetland protection, dam removal, nonpoint source reduction and the Rouge River clean up.
See EGLE's entire web series on the CWA here.