The Clean Water Act of 1972
As the 20th century progressed, more and more
metropolitan areas in the world found it necessary to install
water treatment plants in order to provide clean, healthy water
to their residents. It became a general principle in the developed
world that every person had the right to clean, pure water.
There was no universal standard or definition for clean, pure
water. Many city officials, as they noted the disinfecting power
of chlorine, believed that providing disinfected, yet untreated,
water to city residents was their only responsibility.
Environmental concerns rose in the United States in the 1960s
and 1970s that would greatly affect the definition of clean,
pure water and the responsibility of the government to provide
such water. In the early 1970s, environmental lobbyists in the
United States began to see results in their fight for the environment.
Multiple environmental acts passed through Congress in rapid
succession, including the formation of Earth Day as a national
holiday, the formation of the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), the passage of the Clean
Air Act, and, most important to the history of water filters,
the passage of the Clean
Water Act of 1972 (Outwater, 1996).
The Clean Water Act, like the discovery of the microscope and the disastrous effects of cholera and typhoid epidemics throughout the world, sparked renewed interest in water filtration. It became law that every city in the nation install a water treatment plant, and it became a national goal to have clean water, once more, by 1985 (Outwater, 1996).
Because industrial waste was viewed as the main culprit of contaminated water, industrial plants were the main targets of the law. Over the next few decades, the U.S. government expended billions of dollars in grants to industries to create environment-friendly waste management techniques. Cities were also given grant money to install water treatment plants. Eventually, the sludge in the rivers and water supplies of the nation began to disappear.
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