My Personal Response to Poisoned Waters and the Clean Water Act

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I chose to watch the Frontline episode on “Poisoned Waters”. This documentary showed the environmental issues involving case studies on the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. By examining how these rising pollutants along with industrial contaminants like PCB, lead, mercury and agricultural pollution. America has kept from making many of the nation’s waterways fishable and swim able again. This was a goal set by Congress nearly four decades ago. The Chesapeake Bay is polluted with agricultural waste. We see things like 1.5 billion pounds of chicken waste that no one wants to take responsibility for. Ignoring standards, a waterway was tested for E. coli; the standard is 125 FCU/100ml of water. Yet this waterway’s level was at 48392 FCU/100ml. An industry that will go to great lengths to make sure that Congress doesn’t impose sanction against them. Congress enacted legislation now known as the Clean Water Act. During the Truman era, originally called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The bill Congress passed in 1972 was an overhaul of the original act. The Clean Water Act set limits on the amount of pollutants industries and cities could discharge and gave the Environmental Protection Agency the power to sue and penalize polluters that exceeded those limits. Congress banned DDT, reduced emissions and sued major cities. When Regan became president, his administration established a program of voluntary compliance with Clean Water Act standards. Regan sent around memos to big business asking, “What regulation do you want relief from?” Nixon wasn’t much better. He was out of step with the country. Nixon may have given the EPA the authority to sue and penalize polluters that exceeded those limits, but he would veto any new legislation And we did not care. Then the documentary tackles Puget Sound. The Duwamish River is the largest hot spot in the nation. In 2001, the Duwamish River was classified as a “Super Fund” site. This is given to a site that will receive federal assistance for clean up. But yet, it may be too late. Puget Sound in contaminated with PCP, lead and mercury. The threat comes from the giant industrial polluters of old and from chemicals in consumers’ face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines and household cleaners that find their way into sewers, storm drains, eventually into America’s waterways and drinking water. The Potomac River smelled so bad that you could go near it.

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