When the United States’ landmark Clean Water Act (CWA) was signed into law in 1972, the nation’s waterways and coastlines were in crisis. Oily debris in the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, had notoriously caught fire several times. The southernmost of North America’s Great Lakes, Lake Erie, had been pronounced dead or dying. Fish in Californian coastal waters were so laced with the pesticide DDT that it disrupted the reproductive systems of brown pelicans, threatening them with extinction.
Forty years and billions of dollars later, rivers no longer burn, Lake Erie is much healthier and pelicans are off the endangered species list. But much remains to be done, scientists said yesterday at the North American meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in Long Beach, California.
From Nature (via Scientific American) Clean Water Act at 40: Rivers No Longer Burn but Climate Threats and Runoff Now Rush I
Also, check out our recent water series, Clean Water: The Next Act.