ANN ARBOR: Today, October 18, 2012, marks the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, a landmark environmental law. The Clean Water Act was enacted after years of citizen outrage about massive and persistent water pollution across the country. Ohio’s Cuyahoga River was so polluted it even repeatedly caught on fire. Virginia Shannon, State Associate from Environment Michigan issued the following statement:
“Today, we have come a long way from rivers catching on fire. But we face a new set of problems. Thanks to two polluter-driven court cases, too many of our waterways are currently unprotected under the clean water act. In fact here in Michigan 56 percent of our streams may be unprotected from pollution under the Clean Water Act, risking the drinking water of 1,400,633 Michiganders.
“Over the past forty years, there’s been an explosion in the number of huge factory farms that dump tons of manure too close to our waterways. There are nearly 220 very large factory farms in Michigan. These are industrial agricultural facilities where hundreds and sometimes thousands of animals are confined in a small area. Particularly in Michigan, dairy cows produce 8,478,000,000 pounds of milk. As you can imagine, that many cows generate tons of manure and all too often the waste finds its way into a local stream.
“Finally, the oil and gas drilling practice known as fracking has contaminated streams and water supplies in more and more communities.
“It’s time to build on 40 years of progress. The EPA should restore Clean Water Act protections to all streams, set tough limits on pollution from factory farms and protect drinking water from drilling.”