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Michigan Radio

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Amendment to Clean Water Act improves Great Lakes through critical observation, collaboration

From fishing to enjoying a summer day at the beach, the Great Lakes provide enjoyment, comfort and a sense of home to the region. But these bodies of water were not always secure, as the lakes and connecting rivers used to be considered dangerous due to high pollution spots.

The Great Lakes region has seen some of the most historic river fires. High levels of pollution in the waters led them to catch fire, stretching for miles on end and flowing into the Great Lakes. The Cuyahoga River fire in Cleveland, Ohio and the Rouge River fire in Detroit, Michigan were only four months apart, causing a nationwide urgency. This resulted in the Clean Water Act of 1972.

“The main objective of the Clean Water Act is to go after point source pollution,” environmental law attorney and urban policy expert Nick Schroeck said, “making people have to get permits if they want to dispose of heavy pollution that is mainly found in huge factories or companies that deal with heavy waste.”

Within the laws of the Clean Water Act is a subsection that is tied directly to the Great Lakes: the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act of 1990.

“Although the United States and Canada, working together, have made much progress in cleaning up the Great Lakes, much work remains to be done,” former president George H. W. Bush said in his statement on signing the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act of 1990. “This Act will provide a substantial boost to our efforts by providing additional tools to make progress on much needed planning and cleanup activities.”

Over the years, many laws have changed parts of the Clean Water Act. The Great Lakes Critical Programs Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to “establish water quality criteria for the Great Lakes addressing 29 toxic pollutants with maximum levels that are safe for humans, wildlife, and aquatic life,” according to the EPA.

The amendment was signed by the U.S. and Canada and also required the Great Lakes National Program Office to take on new responsibilities and tasks, such as identifying areas where hazardous spills were happening frequently as well as weaknesses in already established regulations which resulted in slow responses.

“(The Act) directs Great Lakes states to adopt water quality standards, anti-degradation policies and implementation procedures consistent with such guidance,” according to the amendment’s summary.

The Great Lakes Critical Programs Act led to the improvement of the Great Lakes through critical observation and education. The condition of the waters has greatly improved, reaching levels that are safe for food consumption, wildlife survival and human interaction, leaving a significant impact on the history and culture of the region.

Do you agree?

34 more agrees trigger social media ads

  • Ajema Lydiah

    45 w

    water is life and therefore it needs to be protected from contamination which may cause diseases and death of marine life

    • Joseph Githinji

      45 w

      Clean water is vital, this is a great act.

    • johnte ndeto

      45 w

      Aquatic beings deserve conservation too

      • Hilda Wangui

        45 w

        Water bodies needs to be protected by all means and ensuring clean and safe water to be used in the environment by the living things

      • bonke reinhard

        45 w

        Water is life we all need clean water and good environment

        • Princess

          45 w

          Critical observation and collaboration are key in ensuring the health and preservation of such vital ecosystems.

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