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EPA Booth Shares Clean Water Story

Release Date: 10/17/1997
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

Volunteers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 will man a booth at the Dallas Neighborhood Fair October 18. October 18 also is the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Clean Water Act.

EPA's booth will have hands-on demonstrations showing how our water becomes polluted and how it is cleaned. Materials explaining provisions of the Clean Water Act that protect this vital resource also will be available.

"Congress wrote the legislation to protect the public health and to ensure that future generations would have clean water for recreation and food production. More than 70 percent of the Earth's surface is water. Only 3 percent of that is fresh water," EPA Acting Regional Administrator Jerry Clifford said.

When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, America's waters were in trouble. Unregulated pollution from municipal wastewater and industries had turned some rivers into toxic cesspools. Only a third of our country's waters were safe for swimming and fishing. Sewage treatment plants served only 85 million people. We were losing about 300,000 acres a year of our wetlands. The commercial fishing industry is dependent upon plentiful and healthy wetlands.

Today industrial pollution has been reduced by billions of pounds per year. Two-thirds of the nation's waters are safe for swimming and fishing and modern wastewater treatment plants serve 173 million people. Wetlands loss has decreased to less than 100,000 acres per year.

Obviously, there is still much work to be done to protect our nation's water. EPA is working with state and local governments and private industry to reduce pollution from runoff, particularly agricultural runoff. EPA's programs continue to reduce toxic pollution to prevent human exposure through drinking water, by consuming contaminated fish and shellfish, or through recreational activities.

Using EPA's data and assessments, state and local governments can better understand the diverse and cumulative water quality problems of an entire watershed. Having the "big picture" helps communities develop more practical and effective solutions to local water quality problems. The Agency is working to reduce and remove long-lasting toxic pollutants such as mercury, dioxins and PCBs from our nation's waters, and is continuing its partnership with local governments to restore unhealthy waters.

"John Bryant understood the importance of water to a thriving city. After all, he chose the banks of the Trinity River for his settlement," Mr. Clifford said.