Water Pollution Control Act of 1948

Water Pollution Control Act of 1948

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 was the first major law enacted by Congress to address the problems of water pollution in the United States. It did little to control pollution, gave only limited authority to the federal government, and provided an extremely cumbersome enforcement mechanism. In 1972 Congress totally rewrote the act to provide adequate protection for the nation's waters. The legislation applied only to interstate waters, eliminating from protection heavily polluted waters that were wholly contained within one state.

Cry Wolf Quotes

As a matter of fact, acid mine drainage acts as a germicide and renders harmless great quantities of sewage pollution now flowing into the streams of the Nation. Any attempt to compel the treatment of mine drainage at the source is an economic waste, as it robs the people of the benefit of the purifying action of the streams, and the streams are necessary to carry off our liquid wastes, as they can be handled in no other way.

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Andrew B. Crichton, President, Johnstown Coal & Coke, Co., Johnstown, PA., and Director of and Representing National Coal Association, Testimony, Senate Subcommittee of the Committee on Public Works.

Unequivocally state that to blanket the Nation with a law such as is here proposed, delegating almost despotic power to political officers of the Nation, will work irretrievable loss to the industry which I represent, and will create a threat which cannot but seriously affect the continued production of metals and minerals so essential to the security and prosperity of our people.

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Donald A. Callahan, Wallace, Idaho, Director and Vice President, The American Mining Congress, Idaho Mining Association and the Northwest Mining Association, Testimony, Senate Subcommittee of the Committee on Public Works.

There are economic variables also. For one or two mills, the sale of a byproduct may help finance a method of treatment, the cost which is otherwise prohibitive. Because the quantities are huge, however, the market for the byproduct is soon saturated; other mills must find some other method. Again, the cost of treatment for one mill may be so great compared to the cost for others as to destroy its ability to compete, resulting in ruin for the investors and migration for the employees.

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E. W. Tinker, Executive Secretary of the American Paper and Pulp Association, Testimony, Subcommittee of the Committee on Public Works

Experience has also shown that there is another aspect of the problem which, by exciting hasty and improvident legislation, delays progress. I refer to the unpleasant connotation which surrounds the word ‘pollution.’ The public is likely to think of that word in terms of sewage and epidemics. I am told, however, that industrial waste is not a menace to public health….it is sewage which does the harm....

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E. W. Tinker, Executive Secretary of the American Paper and Pulp Association, Testimony, Subcommittee of the Committee on Public Works