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

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.

We are a small-town industry. We are the sixth largest industry in the United States, but we are essentially a small-town industry. If a paper mill is shut down, it isn’t the mill and its employees that are affected, but the whole community, and we have hundreds of towns and small communities in the United States that might be liquidated if this weren’t handled in a reasonable manner. That is just a fact, and it is a very real situation to us.

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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

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.