40 Years Later: The Way Forward for the Nation's Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act turns 40 this week. For Mark Gold, this calls for a celebratory overview of the many environmental successes it has produced, as well as careful consideration of the steps needed for it to be effective in years to come.

Read Time: 2 minutes

October 19, 2012, 8:00 AM PDT

By Erica Gutiérrez

The Clean Water Act "sets wastewater standards and regulates the discharge of pollutants into the nation's oceans, rivers and lakes", says Mark Gold, former president of Heal the Bay and associate director of UCLA's Institute of The Environment and Sustainability, in a recent editorial piece published in the Los Angeles Times. Yet, "without a more comprehensive federal approach to water management, the nation's aquifers, rivers, lakes and coastal waters will continue to degrade."

According to Gold, the Clean Water Act has been responsible for a myriad of successes locally in Los Angeles County, as well as nationally, in no small part due to collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. He asserts, however, that although the act has led to cleaner, safer and healthier beaches for aquatic life, swimmers and surfers, it still has a long way to go before achieving what Congress envisioned 40 years back.

Gold points to the fact that the act cannot create "universally fishable, swimmable and drinkable waters," as Congress initially foresaw. He adds that pollution from agriculture, mining and timber industries, as well as from septic systems are largely unregulated, and that storm-water management also needs to be strengthened.

Some of these improvements require minor revisions to the existing rules mandated in the Act, but others require congressional action and bipartisan support. Gold challenges Congressional representatives to listen to Americans' concerns about water quality, and to work harder to meet the act's initial aspirations.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 in Los Angeles Times


Redesigning Streets for Livability: A Global View

An excerpt from the introduction of the recent book, “Streets For All: 50 Strategies for Shaping Resilient Cities,” edited by Vinayak Bharne and Shyam Khandekar.

January 18, 2023 - Vinayak Bharne

Aerial view of Bend, Oregon with river and old mill district

Bend Eliminates Parking Minimums

The city is complying with an Oregon state mandate that some cities have challenged in court.

January 20, 2023 - KTVZ

Sunset view over canal and downtown Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale Cuts Water Supply to Nearby Suburb

The city claims it has no responsibility to provide water to the unincorporated Maricopa County community.

January 18, 2023 - The Washington Post

Pedestrians and people on bikes on Atlanta BeltLine multiuse trail

How To Prevent ‘Green Gentrification:’ Lessons from the BeltLine

For one author, the key is focusing on affordable housing from the start.

January 27 - The Conversation

View of stone-paved street with pedestrians and "Farmers Market" neon sign on left and old buildings on right in Seattle, Washington

Push and Pull: The Link Between Walkability and Affordability

The increased demand for walkable urban spaces could make them more and more exclusionary if cities don’t pursue policies to limit displacement and boost affordability.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive

Rendering of freeway deck over Interstate 10 in El Paso

El Paso Freeway Cap Linked to Road Expansion

A deck reconnecting neighborhoods divided by the interstate is part of a controversial freeway expansion proposal.

January 27 - Smart Cities Dive