Celebrate Clean Water

Jumping into the Rogue River | Echo River Trips

Can you remember standing on a rock or ledge and gathering up the courage to jump into a waiting river – the nervous energy building until you plunge into your favorite swimming hole? Well, it’s even harder watching someone else do it – especially if it’s your kid. This summer, I did just that.

During a raft trip on Oregon’s Rogue River, I held my breath as my daughter sidled out onto a rock ledge and peered over into the alluring, cool water. Three times up and back – until she decided – and then soared off. I let out my breath only when I saw her wildly grinning face pop up from the water.

One thing I wasn’t worried about was whether it was safe to swim – as one of our country’s Wild and Scenic Rivers, the Rogue is better protected than most. And although almost all Americans live within a mile of a stream or river, sadly, many of these waters are not fit for swimming –  closures of swimming spots from water pollution such as raw sewage and polluted runoff from streets and parking lots are all too common, and waterborne illness is a real concern.

One of the main objectives of Clean Water Act, our landmark national law is to make sure rivers and lakes are “swimmable.” Unfortunately, though we’ve made progress, clean water is now under attack as we approach the Act’s 40th anniversary:

  • The House of Representatives passed a “dirty water bill” that would roll back clean water protections nationwide;
  • Funding for water infrastructure, like upgrades to failing sewage treatment plants, is slated for deep cuts, and efforts to further rollback environmental protections are being loaded onto these budget bills;

We can’t give up on the progress made over the last 30 plus years. Instead, it’s time to renew our commitment to clean water and healthier communities, not look the other way – we know that clean water and good jobs go together, so we can’t let them use that as an excuse.

When you’re standing on the precipice and mustering the nerve to take your leap – the last thing you should have to worry about is whether the water is clean enough. Celebrate clean water – let’s make sure we can all come up smiling upon jumping into our favorite river.