With political wrangling among members of Congress practically dragging the federal government to a standstill on a range of issues, we find ourselves wistfully looking back to a time when lawmakers enacted meaningful, bipartisan reforms. One that profoundly changed life in the United States wrapped up its 40th anniversary this week: the Clean Water Act.
Passed in 1972, Republicans and Democrats in Congress overrode a veto by then-President Richard Nixon, who balked at the passage of a law to clean up the country’s waterways for fear that implementing it would cost too much money. Since then, the law has had a remarkable effect on the health of aquatic ecosystems throughout the country. Simply put, the law banned discharge of pollution into water without a permit, and required substantial changes to the treatment of wastewater.