When 40 years ago yesterday Congress passed the Clean Water Act, no one had to ask why we needed it. Memories were still fresh of seeing Ohio's Cuyahoga River actually catch fire, and many of our national waterways were filthy. In the four decades that followed passage of the Clean Water Act, things improved a lot. So much so, in fact, that we're now in danger of taking clean water for granted. That would be a mistake because even though the threats to our water are not as obvious as they were 40 years ago, they're still deadly serious.
Although Cuyahoga hasn't caught fire lately, communities across the U.S. are still discovering that their water supplies are being contaminated by industrial and agricultural pollutants like nitrates, perchlorate, and hexavalent chromium. Natural gas fracking, which could contaminate entire aquifers, is rampant and poorly regulated.
According to the EPA, nearly 1 in 10 Americans still don't have round-the-clock access to safe, clean drinking water that meets national health standards. Nearly a third of our waterways, in fact, still don't meet federal clean-water standards.
This is no time to let our guard down. It's time to step up and finish the job we ...