Last week, a former EPA administrator, William K. Reilly, published an editorial in the New York Times marking the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. He notes the many successes under the act—in 1972 when it came into being, he says, two-thirds of the country’s waters were not “swimmble and fishable”—and, just as then-Administrator Carol Browner did in the very first issue of Stormwater magazine 11 years ago, he cites the notorious event that helped spur the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency itself: the 1969 fire on Ohio’s extremely polluted Cuyahoga River.
Reilly also notes the continued resistance to the act from big businesses, which have often tried to find ways around it, such as trying to limit its jurisdiction by claiming that certain water bodies aren’t really covered, that they aren’t actually waters of the United States because they don’t connect with interstate waters. He specifically mentions two Supreme Court decisions in the last decade that have made more ambiguous the question of which waters the act actually covers.
The larger question he drives at, though, has to do with the relationship between the economy and the environment. He writes, “The American economy has performed well over the past four decades: real per capita income has doubled since 1970 and pollution is down even with 50 percent more people. The choice between a healthy environment and a healthy economy is a false one.” Yet he acknowledges that when times are good, people feel better about enacting environmental protections, and when times are rough, many feel those same protections are a luxury we can dispense with. He warns that we should not “buy into the misguided notion that reducing protection of our waters will somehow ignite the economy.”
In your stormwater program or community, are you seeing recommendations for specific cutbacks because of the economic situation? And if so, how do you view these: as a weakening of clean-water protections, or as useful streamlining of previous inefficiencies? Share your thoughts in the Comments section.
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
December 13th, 2011
Stormwater Inspection and Maintenance
Don’t get caught in the storm. Join Andrew J. Erickson, M.S., P.E., for Stormwater Inspection & Maintenance on Dec. 13th, a discussion of standardized stormwater inspection methods and performance assessment. Learn how to use these to assess, select, and schedule effective and financially sustainable maintenance on stormwater treatment practices (e.g., stormwater ponds, bioretention facilities, infiltration basins, swales, and filter strips).
January 12th, 2012
Planning & Executing an Effective Pavement Preservation Program
As roadway networks and commercial vehicle loading continue to increase and Municipality taxation power remains limited, the need to effectively maintain and improve our pavement infrastructure is paramount. Join David Hein, V.P. of Transportation for ARA, to explore the key concepts of an effective pavement preservation program, program implementation needs and guidelines, and common roadblocks to successful implementation.
January 26th, 2012
5 Steps to Creating a Successful Public Outreach Campaign
Change starts with people. Whether your focus is stormwater pollution, energy conservation, pavement restoration, or recycling, a successful public outreach campaign resonates with your target audience and leads to long-lasting behavior change. Join Erica Hooper of SGA to explore a proven 5-step approach to crafting a successful outreach campaign based on real-world examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
February 9th, 2012
Differentiating & Monitoring Groundwater Plumes
Threatened by various plumes of mobile contaminants, urban potable groundwater resources require groundwater professionals to not only determine the source of individual plumes, but apportion the contributions of multiple sources within a composite plume. Join William G. Soukup, P.G. of Cornerstone Environmental Group LLC to discuss the analytical and interpretive techniques for differentiating plumes and their sources, as well as tips to improve long-term plume monitoring and management.