Today, we celebrate World Water Day and the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act (CWA) which Congress passed in 1972 to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters."
The CWA is heralded as a triumph for state and federal cooperation, bringing together varying levels of government for the common purpose of protecting our natural resources. Forty years later, Congress continues to face the challenge of ensuring safe drinking water and livable ecosystems in the United States and worldwide.
On December 12, 2011, Representative Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) introduced the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2012 which would amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and direct USAID to designate a Global Water Coordinator to manage water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance. It would also direct the Secretary of State to designate a Special Advisor for Water Resources to coordinate and oversee policy relating to water and sanitation assistance.
"Global initiatives to improve universal access to clean water for drinking and sanitation have produced palpable results, but there is still a critical need not being met in many developing countries around the world," said Congressman Smith who is an original co-sponsor of the bill. "Clean water is vital to sustainable development in vulnerable areas, and we should continue to ensure these efforts remain a priority within our foreign assistance programs."
Recently, Congressman Smith also co-signed a letter with more than 50 other Members of Congress asking President Obama to restore critical protection of America's waterways included in the Clean Water Act.
To learn more about the Clean Water Act, visit the Environmental Protection Agency's 40th Anniversary website at Epa.gov/40th. To learn more about ways you can get involved in Water World Day visit WaterDay.org.