Clean Water Act

When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, the goal was to reduce pollution in all U.S. waters to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of our nation's waters."

While the nation's waters are significantly cleaner than they were 30 years ago, the CWA hasn't come close to its zero discharge/fishable, swimmable goals.

Nearly 30 percent of the nation's largest industrial, municipal and federal facilities were in serious violation of the CWA at least once during a recent 15-month period, but relatively few were being prosecuted.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group describes many failings in the monitoring of water pollution and efforts to deter polluters in its report.

The U.S. may have no streams left that are free from chemical contamination, and the U.S. lacks the data necessary to report comprehensively on groundwater levels. These are two of the conclusions of a report by the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment.