The Clean Water Act was created and put into action in 1972 to regulate and prevent companies from dumping illegal and dangerous substances into lakes that could eventually become tap water in homes and restaurants. According to an article in The New York Times, the Supreme Court has left uncertain which waterways are protected by the law; therefore, thousands of the nation’s largest water polluters are declaring that the law no longer applies to them. This is dangerous and a problem for numerous reasons.
Our law enforcement is finding it difficult to punish some of the nation’s largest known polluters because the agencies sometimes lack jurisdiction and proving that the companies are illegally dumping is difficult and time consuming. Therefore, because our Congress thinks the Clean Water Act is hard to regulate and takes some effort, companies are realizing they can get away with dumping substances into nearby creeks for much cheaper. This is abusing the system and essentially trying to sneak around the regulation. Acting this way because it is cheaper, not safer, to get rid of waste really reflects how selfish larger companies are becoming during this time.
Dumping waste anywhere is harmful because the watersheds that lead to tap water in numerous cities are now unprotected. This increases the risk of contaminants getting into the system, where they would come into contact with the population. Oils, carcinogens and dangerous bacteria are the kinds of things being dumped into rivers and, if taken in large unknown doses, they can be fatal. A report from the Environmental Protection Agency said about 117 million Americans get their drinking water from sources that may be vulnerable to the water masses that are being tainted because of the lack of supervision provided by the Clean Water Act. This is upsetting and of concern for society because of the lack of consideration and concern for the health of the American people. It also makes me uneasy and, quite frankly, grossed out.
According to the same article in The New York Times, the Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico no longer considers itself under the ruling of the Clean Water Act. It now dumps wastewater containing sewage and human waste into a nearby lake on base, according to the article. I don’t believe this is setting a good example for other companies and industries because it will begin a domino effect. Soon everyone is going to think they are above the law and can make their own rules.
Many court cases pertaining to punishing companies that have illegally dumped have been pushed aside or dropped altogether because of the lack of effort. I think the government should stop being lazy, and law enforcement should act on our sanitary issues. I know we are in a bad economy right now, but to jeopardize something like our water is taking it too far. All the government needs to do is re-enact the Clean Water Act and establish that the government has control over all waterways (The current bill states “navigable waters.”) If the government takes out the word “navigable” then the government has full control of wasteful dumping. The Clean Water Act has been around for a long time, and I think most of us don’t even realize how much it protects our water. This is something to be concerned about and maybe with enough responses, our government will take a closer look into this problem.
Courtney Baker is a sophomore strategic communication major from Fort Worth.