URBANA – Congress passed the Clean Water Act 35 years ago this month, but its goal of eliminating pollution in lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands still hasn't been accomplished, according to a report released Thursday by Environment Illinois.
Facilities around the nation – including more than 46 percent of major facilities in Illinois – released more pollution in 2005 than allowed by the Clean Water Act, said LuCinda Hohmann, an Environment Illinois field organizer at a press conference Thursday in Urbana's Crystal Lake Park.
Such facilities include waste water treatment plants, factories and power plants, Hohmann said. Farms are not included, nor are facilities not classified as major facilities. The report's data is based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency information from 2005. It's the most recent information available, Hohmann said.
Representatives from the Prairie Rivers Network and the University of Illinois joined Hohmann on Thursday in urging citizens to support legislation to strengthen the Clean Water Act and pitch in to help eliminate pollution.
Hohmann said the Clean Water Restoration Act, which would strengthen the original Clean Water Act and prevent loopholes, is now in a congressional committee. She hopes it will be voted upon by the end of the year, she said, and she urged citizens to contact their representatives to show support for the legislation.
Stacy James, the clean water program coordinator at the Prairie Rivers Network, also suggested citizens join local organizations to fight for cleaner water. Those include the Sierra Club, the Salt Fork River Partners or the Prairie Rivers Network.
"Frankly, it's a community right to have clean water," James said, noting that water is crucial to the health of the area's citizens and wildlife.
Sierra Club member Jim Beauchamp said polluted water was one of the main reasons he joined the environmental organization. He said he continues to be concerned.
"It just doesn't seem like any progress has been made in the last 30 years," Beauchamp said.