Clean Water Act Turns 30

Thirty years ago this month, the federal government made improving water quality a priority. In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act in an effort to protect our nation's water resources. Some long time residents along the Tchoutacabouffa River in Harrison County say sewer lines have made it a much cleaner river than it was 10 or 12 years ago.

"As the septic tanks go out, rather than re-fix them now most of them [neighbors] are going up and hooking onto the sewer system, and that's help some too, keeping a lot of pollution from septic tanks out of the river," Lewis C. Drawdy said.

The Department of Marine Resources is one of the government agencies that encourages people to switch from septic tanks to sewer systems. D.M.R. is working to reduce other marine pollution sources like sewage dumped by boats. Officials say what they're doing now is what was started by the Clean Water Act passed 30 years ago.

"Before the Federal Clean Water Act, virtually anything could be put into the water," said Executive Director Bill Walker." The Act brought lots of improvements, not only by cleaning up bad areas, but making good areas better."

The rivers empty into the Back Bay where Preston Williams has been fishing for the past 14 years. He says he's not impressed with water quality here.

Preston Williams said "The water doesn't physically look any better or visually look any better. So I would say that I don't see a whole lot of progress being made in terms of quality of the water."

But most people we talked to told us they're satisfied the Clean Water Act has done its job here on the coast.

October 18th is the official anniversary of the Clean Water Act, and has been proclaimed National Water Quality Day. To celebrate D.M.R. is asking for volunteers to become water quality monitors.

To register as a water quality monitor call (228) 374-5000 or click here to find out more.