State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Obama’s Clean Water Initiatives

From U.S. News: Obama Likely to Boost Water Quality Rules After Years of Lax Regulation

[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.

Further Reading:
Clean Water Act
EPA
Sewage Discharge Violations
USA Today Sewage Article
USDA Water Supply Reports

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15 years ago

[…] President Obama is working for new legislation to reinstate this rule and strengthen the existing Clean Water Act and put Federal money behind clean up and protection effort, in part because of Gunnoe’s […]