The Clean Water Act at 50

A half century after the passage of the landmark federal Clean Water Act, and almost four decades after the law’s deadline for all waters across the U.S. to be “fishable and swimmable,” 50 percent of assessed river and stream miles – 703,417 miles nationally — are so polluted they are classified as “impaired,” according to a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project.

The report, “The Clean Water Act at 50: Promises Half Kept at the Half Century Mark,” uses state data to also show that 55 percent of lake acres that have been studied in recent years and 25 percent of assessed bays and estuaries are impaired — meaning they cannot be used safely for one or more public uses, such as swimming, fishing, or as sources of drinking water.