Editorial: 50 years later, the Clean Water Act is under assault
In his 50 years as president of the American Water Works Association, the late Howard Gardner was a man of ideas that had a profound influence on generations of Americans, many of them first-generation immigrants.
His legacy is not simply the idea that water plays a role in health and quality of life, but that we should take action to ensure safe drinking water. That is why every day, America’s water suppliers stand up to the forces of special interests to do the right thing. They serve the interest of their customers, and they do what’s right for the future of America’s water resources.
With the help of a new generation of water leaders, that role will be even greater as Congress once again debates a national water policy.
Gardner called that policy one that would be “reusable,” meaning that it would be used again and again for many decades.
But his dream, which has long been unrealized, will soon be realized under a proposed amendment to the Clean Water Act being floated by the Senate committee responsible for water policy.
The bill would change the definition of “waters of the United States” to protect them from development, pollution and the kind of pollution that causes birth defects in children.
Gardner’s dream was that by putting something back into a watershed, the water would have more life. It has.
Water is like a river. The river flows, and that flow is affected by land use and other things, but if you could take the river back to its beginnings, you might see a stream of water that was cleaner and clearer. It would be a cleaner, fuller river.
And it would probably do more good in the world.
Water is life
But not everyone shared Gardner’s dream.
An influential group of water interests, such as the American Water Works Association, the Rural Water Association and the Association for Watershed Protection all opposed the bill. The