A benefits assessment of water pollution control programs since 1972: Part 1, The benefits of point source controls for conventional pollutants in rivers and streams
Since the early 1970s, national water pollution control programs at all levels of government can be largely credited with reversing the centuries-long trend in the degradation of the Nation’s waters. Foremost among these programs are those that have been implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972. Prior to these programs, the decline in water quality that accompanied economic industrialization and population growth was epitomized by the day in June 1969 when oil and debris in the Cuyahoga River caught fire. Today, the cumulative impact of the national water pollution programs has been to improve the health of aquatic ecosystems and to expand the share of the Nation’s water resources that support various forms of beneficial uses for humans. The purpose of this study has been to develop a preliminary assessment of the national benefits associated with these programs, in particular the CWA.