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Act 50

Is that something like, "Act your age?"

No, ACT50 is Waterkeeper Alliance's collective celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. LEAD Agency's Tar Creekkeeper and Grand Riverkeeper programs will be participating and conducting actions this year you will be invited to join. For there is nothing more important to you and to all of us than water. And we deserve clean water.

The year before I was born the Federal Water Pollution Control Act was enacted.

Then after EPA was established in 1970 during what has been called the "American environmental movement" with President Nixon saying the, "70's must be the years when American pays its debt to the past by reclaiming the purity of its air, its water and our living environment. It is literally now or never."

Congress passed a significantly reorganized and expanded it into the Clean Water Act by themselves with a rare 2/3 majority vote because President Nixon did not sign it when it came to him, he vetoed it.

Can we afford rivers and lakes and streams and oceans which continue to make possible life on this planet? Can we afford life itself? Those questions were never asked as we destroyed the waters of our nation, and they deserve no answers as we finally move to restore and renew them. These questions answer themselves.” ~ Edmund Muskie

It was very popular to be for clean water at that time because our water was seriously in danger with sewage, trash, oil, and even rivers catching on fire. "The object of the act is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." - NRDC

This era also brought us the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act.

Our Clean Water Act will be 50 years old this year and so will my son, who was born just 2 months earlier. The Act has never been fully implemented and has never been as protective as is needed. The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless issued a permit, but it allows these permits that do pollute our water.

ACT50 is a collective call for governments, Waterkeepers, and people like you to unite in the fight for clean water. Working together, ga-du-gi, as we say in Cherokee, can ensure that water is drinkable, fishable, and swimmable by enforcing laws, holding polluters accountable, and empowering citizens.

There are ongoing and emerging threats to the health of American waterways and with provisions in this law governments and organizations like the Waterkeeper Alliance and LEAD Agency can take action, but we need citizens paying attention and the Act gives them legal standing to advocate for their own waterways.

This Clean Water Act actually has been watered down through the years by the very Congress that enacted it and has never been fully implements as the original Congress had intended. But because of it pollution standards have been set and American waterways have had significant protection with restoration and cleanup of serious problems.

The incredible hope that was written into this Act was the goal to see all American waterways drinkable, fishable and swimmable by 1983. As we know that hasn't happened.

Some of that is our own fault. We must elect politicians who believe this is important to their constituents and to the country as a whole, and will protect water, which is our future, and not corporations who entice them to protect their interests instead.

But the other thing we have to do is understand we are the change. We as a people made Congress take on the challenge to protect water. And for us here at Tar Creek we have to make them follow the law. The discharge going into Tar Creek for now 42 years, over 15,000 days is a violation of the Clean Water Act. A permit was never issued. You will be hearing more about this year, as it is my very own ACT50 action and you joining this effort can make that discharge be addressed as the law proposed those years ago.

Myself as Tar Creekkeeper and Martin Lively, our Grand Riverkeeper will be speaking out on clean water throughout this celebratory year and call you to join us as we ACT50.

Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim

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