Great Lakes Environmental Directory Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes grants exotic species water pollution water export drilling environment Great Lakes pollution Superior Michigan Huron Erie Ontario ecology Great Lakes issues wetlands Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Great Lakes environment Great Lakes watershed water quality exotic species Great Lakes grants water pollution water export oil gas drilling environment environmental Great Lakes pollution Lake Superior Lake Michigan Lake Huron Lake Erie Lake Ontario Great Lakes ecology Great Lakes issues Great Lakes wetlands Great Lakes Resources Great Lakes activist Great Lakes environmental organizations Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat air pollution alien species threatened rare endangered species ecological Great Lakes information Success Stories Great Lakes Directory Home/News Great Lakes Calendar Great Lakes jobs/volunteering Search Great Lakes Organizations Take Action! Contact Us Resources/Links Great Lakes Issues Great Lakes News Article About Us Networking Services

Great Lakes Article:

No retreating from clean water
Journal Gazette

The 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act today marks a period that began with great strides in cleaning up the nation's waterways and ended with shifting political priorities that threaten to reverse the progress of the last three decades. A pair of dismaying news stories underscores the importance of keeping a national commitment to healthy rivers, lakes and coastal waters.

The Environmental Protection Agency released a study earlier this month showing deteriorating statistics about American waterways from 1998 to 2000. The percentage of water bodies too polluted for fishing or swimming in 2000 stood at nearly 40 percent of stream miles, 45 percent for lake acres and 50 percent estuary acreage - sites where rivers enter oceans. Indiana's rivers and streams are slightly worse than the national average, 41 percent having been found to contain excessive pollution.

The EPA cited improved monitoring methods, not diminished water quality, as the most likely explanation for why the figures worsened since 1998. But the figures reported for 2000 leave plenty of room for improvement, regardless of of how they are interpreted.

More gloom followed the EPA's report a few days later. The Bush administration's chief enforcer of clean water standards told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the administration is reducing money for modernizing sewage-treatment and water-runoff systems. G. Tracy Meehan III blamed spending on anti-terrorism measures and a weakened economy for the reduction.

A gap between the demand for improved water and sewer infrastructure and the ability to pay for it had plagued communities even before Meehan's statement. Sharp rate increases imposed on Fort Wayne sewer users are a result of a lack of money from the federal and state governments.

Ted Rhinehart, director of Public Works and City Utilities, said recent rate increases pay for normal replacement and repairs, plus new infrastructure associated with the $250 million long-term plan to cut the discharge of raw sewage into the three rivers from combined sewer overflows.

"The combination has created a sizable funding gap," Rhinehart said, adding that water and sewer rates are rising well ahead of inflation.

A revolving loan fund available to states is the federal government's main contribution to paying for wastewater and sewer projects. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, D-Maine, rightly told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that the annual $1.35 million that has financed the revolving loan fund isn't enough. The Bush administration's proposed $1.21 billion proposal for next year falls far short of what is needed.

Thanks to the Clean Water Act, rivers no longer catch fire from pollutants as the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland did in 1969. Indiana's waterways are much cleaner than they were in 1972.

But continued progress depends on more money from the federal government. Simply put, clean water doesn't come cheap.

This information is posted for nonprofit educational purposes, in accordance with U.S. Code Title 17, Chapter 1,Sec. 107 copyright laws.
For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for
purposes of your own that go beyond "fair use," you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Great Lakes environmental information

Return to Great Lakes Directory Home/ Site Map