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Clean Water Act - Essay Example

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Heavy industrialization, farming with the help of fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides and other injudicious human activities are polluting the surface water and ground water sources. Clean water…
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Clean Water Act
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Clean Water Act Clean Water Act Water pollution is one of the major problems facing by United s at present. Heavy industrialization, farming with the help of fertilizers, chemicals and pesticides and other injudicious human activities are polluting the surface water and ground water sources. Clean water act (CWA) was introduced in America with an intention to reduce water pollution activities as much as possible. “Under the CWA, any discharge of a pollutant from a point source is only allowed pursuant to a permit issued by the EPA or by a state agency after EPA approval of a state plan” (Smith, 2009, p.133).
According to CWA, the more complex problem associated with the water problems in America, is with respect to the quality of the available water rather than the quantity. In other words, America has enough water sources to cater the needs of the public; however, the number of fresh water sources is less. Point sources such as pipe, sewer, ditch, factories, some sewage treatment plants, landfills, hazardous waste sites, and leakage from gasoline storage tanks and non-point sources such as runoff from irrigation containing salts and residue from pesticides, runoff from animal feedlots, salts from the salting of winter roads, and storm runoff from the streets of urban areas (Smith, 2009, p.133) are equally causing major threats to the availability of fresh water in America.
“Since 1970, CWA regulations have reduced the discharge of untreated sewage into the nation’s waterways by 90 percent” (Smith, 2009, p.136). CWA succeeded in reducing a substantial amount of water pollution in America. However, the depth of the problem is so severe and CWA needs periodical updating to strengthen its norms. Clean Water Act is giving more emphasize to the prevention of pollution from point sources and it remains silent on the issue of the pollutions from nonpoint sources. In other words, CWA is addressing only one side of the problem and that also in an ineffective manner. Smith (2009) has pointed out that budget cuts in the EPA as well as in state environmental agencies and poor staffing have resulted in the ineffective functioning of EPA and other environmental agencies (Smith, 2009, p.134). In other words, only the most visible permit violators are getting punishment for polluting water in America whereas all the others who are responsible for water pollution in an indirect manner, able to escape from punishments.
The budget allocation for the functioning of EPA and other environmental agencies should be increased further in order to make the functioning of these agencies more effective. Staffing problems in these agencies should be corrected so that comprehensive monitoring and subsequent prevention of pollution of the waters sources would be possible. The penalties for water pollution are not adequate to force the polluters from refraining from their activities. Stiffer penalties will force the water polluters to think twice before they start any activities which may pollute water. Smith (2009) has pointed out that the difficulties in employing the mechanisms provided by CWA are the major cause of failures of CWA (Smith, 2009, p.134). In the absence of aggressive monitoring, polluters will influence the officials through bribes and will escape from punishments.
To conclude, Clean Water Act is good in principle; but it failed to meet its objectives because of budget shortage for the functioning of EPA and other environmental agencies, ineffective monitoring methods, ineffective penalties, etc. These problems should be corrected and environmental agencies should be given more power to make the CWA more effective and meaningful.
References
1. Smith Z. A. (2009). The Environmental Policy Paradox (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River,
NJ : Pearson. ISBN 9780555030264 Read More
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