Before the Clean Water Act (CWA), our nation’s waters were severely contaminated by sewage, trash, oil, and toxic industrial pollution. Large and small waters across the country were unsafe for human contact, water supplies, or fish consumption.
An estimated two-thirds of lakes, rivers, and coastal waters were unsafe for fishing and swimming.
Only 85 million Americans were served by sewage treatment plants and untreated sewage was dumped directly into rivers and lakes.
The Potomac River was so polluted that Arlington, Virginia, residents were advised to seek immediate medical attention if they had prolonged exposure to the water.
The Waterkeeper movement was started by a band of blue-color fisherman on New York’s Hudson River in 1966 because industrial polluters were destroying their way of life. By signing the CWA into law in 1972, Congree provided the foundation needed for the beginnings of a waterbody-based grassroots effort to enforce the protection of water from pollution through litigation, education, and community engagement. The CWA’s framework of strict permitting requirements for point source discharges, numeric permit limits, monitoring requirements, and, most importantly, for citizen lawsuits sparked Waterkeeper organizations to form across thr country and influence the development of U.S. environmental law. The grass-roots membership model based on recreational use of rivers, lakes, sounds, and bays was a natural fit for environmental standing requirements.
Today, Waterkeeper Alliance unites more than 300 Waterkeeper groups around the world protecting more than 2.5 million square miles of rivers, lakes, and coastal waterways on six continents. St. Marys Riverkeeper is one of hundreds on the front lines ensuring that the CWA is enforced through our own water quality monitoring program, resiliency projects, community partnerships and engagement opportunities, and increasing awareness on how we can be better stewards for our St. Marys River and environment.
As a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, St. Marys Riverkeeper is partnering with local river-loving business this October for our TOAST TO CLEAN WATER CAMPAIGN. through a series of events and engagement opportunities, we will work together to strengthen the clean water movement and connect our community with their waterways.
Join us in celebrating our watershed successes and ACT to engage our broader community in our critical work to ensure everyone has drinkable, swimmable, fishable water. We must all do our part to ensure we leave a lasting legacy for future generations.
Campaign Events and Engagement Opportunities
Thank you to our Campaign Sponsors and Partners for supporting our efforts to protect the St. Marys River:
Support Toast to Clean Water Campaign!