[The Clean Water Act] Passed in 1972, the law was interpreted by both Congress and the courts for nearly 30 years as protecting virtually all federal waters. But in 2001, and again in 2006, the Supreme Court handed down rulings that served, in effect, to limit the law’s reach.
Tighter regulations should lead to an increase in environmental violations and a push (or is it a pull) for utilities and industry to upgrade infrastructure. The Water Quality Investment Act of 2009, currently in the House of Representatives, authorizes $13.8 billion over five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $1.8 billion for EPA grants to address combined sewage overflows and storm sewer overflows.
More importantly, bipartisan agreement is usually an oxymoron, but when it comes to sewage and treatment facilities, everyone seems to be on the same page – the infrastructure in the U.S. carries a not so pleasant odor.
There is bipartisan consensus that the nation’s water infrastructure is in urgent need of repair. “The nation’s sewage infrastructure for the 21st century is in abominable shape.”
Yes, yes, and yes, I am happy to hear that we are facing up to our infrastructure challenges. But I want to caution that we don’t get carried away with “clean” water. There are lots of opportunities in agriculture and domestic use (think toilets) where water quality is not the priority, but adequate water supply is, or soon will be, the top priority.