Water Quality Today - Has the Clean Water Act Been a Success?

Date Published: 
Mon, 06/07/2004

William L. Andreen. Alabama Law Review. June 7, 2004.

Water Quality Today - Has the Clean Water Act Been a Success?” is framed as a rebuttal to the industrial and conservative critics of the Clean Water Act. Andreen argues that the Clean Water Act has achieved a remarkable amount of success over the last 30 years.

The act managed to greatly reduce the flow of toxic pollutants (and municipal waste) into or waterways. Water quality improved across the nation as a result. American rates of wetland loss have declined dramatically since the CWA passed, while the total annual oil spillage dropped to one-tenth of the 1970s levels.  Andreen emphasizes that the act has had little to no negative effects upon economic growth. Costs have been lower than originally anticipated. Andreen acknowledges that the CWA needs to be protected and strengthened (he offers several suggestions in this regard), but concludes that industry criticisms of the law are inaccurate.