On 40th Anniversary of Clean Water Act, Country Must Continue to Build on Progress

The National League of Cities released the following statement on the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act:

In 1972 Congress passed the Clean Water Act establishing a national system for controlling pollution and protecting our nation's waters by setting unified water quality standards for the country. Today we commemorate the Act's historic importance and its impact on the quality of our nation's water, our cities and citizens. At the same time, we also recognize the future challenges of protecting America's water resources.

Clean water is the backbone of daily life, providing innumerable benefits to cities. It is crucial not only to the environmental well-being of communities, but also critical to their economic and social interests. We applaud the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for developing the recent Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Planning Approach Framework, which demonstrates an awareness of the challenges local governments face in meeting Clean Water Act requirements, as well as the conflicts they face in balancing environmental protection with economic feasibility.

Still, communities around the country face impaired waterways, deteriorating infrastructure and the rising burden of unfunded federal mandates.

As our nation's cities struggle to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act, we call on Congress and the Administration to increase federal spending on water and wastewater infrastructure. Investing in water infrastructure will create jobs and stimulate economic growth, advancing water quality protection through improvements in wastewater treatment, stormwater treatment and drinking water facilities. Additionally, we must provide maximum flexibility for local governments through the state revolving loan fund programs to direct funds as necessary to local projects. We must also seek to address control over nonpoint source pollution.

It is imperative that we continue to build on the progress made in the last four decades. The National League of Cities looks forward to working with our partners in Congress, the Administration and in cities and towns around the country to ensure that all our waters meet the laudable goals of the Clean Water Act.