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2002: The Year of Clean Water

The Clean Water Act is a series of laws that deal mostly with water pollution. Specifically they target direct pollution, as well as water pollution from run off. The main goals of this legislation are to protect wild life and provide clean drinking water, as well as clean water for recreation.


In the 1970s there was growing concern over water pollution. It was not uncommon prior to the Act for factories to dispose of waste directly into waterways. Another problem was pollution that easily entered into run off, and ended up in waterways, or drinking water. 

Basic Information

The Clean Water Act gave the EPA, and some other government agencies, greater ability to control pollution of waterways and bodies of water. It also legislated consequences for polluters of water, with the goal of protecting water bodies. Additionally regional organizations have been able to use these laws to prevent pollution.

Implementation to Date

The CWA has been implemented in large part through actions of the EPA. The EPA has taken action against businesses and individuals who have polluted waterways. The Act does not however govern groundwater supplies, though the EPA has engaged polluters of groundwater as well.

The Year of Clean Water

Thirty Years after the introduction of the Clean Water Act, the Bush Administration declared the ‘Year of Clean Water’. This marked not only the anniversary of the Clean Water Act, and subsequent Safe Drinking Water Act, but also enhanced enforcement of this legislation.

In Summary

The Clean Water Act, though it faces implementation issues even today, was necessary in the midst of the rampant pollution of water supplies. Everything from drinking water, to recreational use of waterways, to protecting wild life had become a concern before the act was implemented. While the Act did face opposition from businesses, and individuals that were required to take on extra efforts, the result has been very recognizably preserving clean bodies of water within the United States.

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