The federal Clean Water Act turns 50 years old in 2022, so how has it affected Indiana’s waters? The short answer is that there have been benefits, but it has also left some water pollution unaddressed. Indiana has seen a significant reduction in sewage and industrial waste going into our waterways since this law was passed in 1972. However, the Clean Water Act is weak on some issues:
- It does not address runoff pollution. 73% of the assessed waterways in Indiana have too much bacteria to be safe for swimming largely due to runoff.
- Water cleanup plans under this law (TMDLs) are not effective enough
- It continues to allow permits for wetland destruction, despite Indiana having lost more than 85% of its original wetlands.
Some aspects of the Clean Water Act simply need more effective implementation in Indiana. In particular, Indiana’s discharge permits are far from the law’s original objective of eliminating pollution discharges, and the permits that have been issued aren’t always fully enforced. The Environmental Integrity Project released an in-depth report on the Clean Water Act at 50 with recommendations for strengthening the law and strengthening implementation of the law.