Today we join voices with water advocates from around the globe to call for a renewed campaign to defend the environmental and public health laws that have improved water quality in the United States since 1972. When Clean Water Action fought to pass the original Clean Water Act in the 70's we knew that this law would have enormous public health and environmental benefit. I think it's safe to say that the success of the Clean Water Act in saving lives, preventing disease, ensuring safe drinking water and protecting habitat, has exceeded all expectations. It is arguably the most successful piece of environmental legislation in our nation's history.
However, the Clean Water Act remains at risk because of administrative rule-making and two badly rendered Supreme Court decisions that occurred during the Bush Administration. Agribusiness conglomerates and developers are taking advantage of the ambiguity introduced into the law by these actions to violate the letter and spirit of the Clean Water Act free from enforcement penalties.
Congress must address this this by passing comprehensive legislation during this session of Congress to restore the full integrity to the law. The environment and public health communities call for the introduction of legislation in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee so that these essential protections can be restored.
The Clean Water Act was settled law for over three decades and rule-making over that period carved out reasonable accommodation for agriculture and development. The breach to the integrity of this law has been allowed to go on for far too long. It is past time for Congress to act.
Restoring integrity to the Clean Water Act is just one of many necessary reforms that Clean Water Action is working on to improve the quality and safety of our water and our water infrastructure. Reforming our practices and systems to conform to the needs of the 21st Century has never been more important. As the world faces more pressures on our precious and finite supply of fresh water, how we manage and protect our water will be incredibly important in determining whether or not we can safely meet the needs of people and ecosystems for clean water.
The United States led the way in environmental protection for water with the passage of the Clean Water Act. Many countries around the world suffer from water borne illness and other serious disease because they lack the regulatory enforcement mechanisms of such a law. We should be leading the world in policy and technology to provide safe water the world over, rather than trying to undermine a law that brought the world enormous benefit.