The Clean Water Act Through the Generations: Baby Boomers Generation, Pt. 2

How has the Clean Water Act impacted your life? For those of us who were born before the Clean Water Act was passed into law in 1972, we interpret this law through the eyes of the Baby Boomers Generation.

Monongahela River, WV

Monongahela River, WV | Jeffrey Turner

I remember watching TV news coverage of the Cuyahoga River on fire.  I remember wondering how a river could be so polluted that it could burn. 

The next year, my class held a schoolyard cleanup as part of the first Earth Day event, and we all received “Ecology Flag” stickers for participating.  I remember the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Water Act, because we discussed in earth science class how it would require wastewater to be treated before being returned to rivers.   

Little did I know then that my passion and my career path would never stray far from this foundational law that has helped transform rivers like the burning Cuyahoga and the “red and dead” Monongahela to supporting record mayfly hatches and thriving fisheries. 

My career has positioned me to witness the resilience of rivers.  What took millennia to create and a less than a century to despoil has regenerated in my lifetime.  Our rivers are so greatly improved by 40 years of Clean Water Act implementation, yet so vulnerable to shortsighted assumptions that the work has already been done, or that economic recovery can only be achieved by abandoning environmental regulations. 

I look forward to a future of innovation that balances economic stability and continued resource protection.

How has the Clean Water Act impacted your life? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook