Ken Brenner: Clean Water Act anniversary
November 13, 2012
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 became the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972 as concerns about water pollution led to significant amendments to the old legislation. The CWA established regulations for the discharge of wastewater and other pollutants into the waters of the United States. It also set water quality standards for surface water pollution and funded the construction of wastewater treatment plants.
Today, everyone living in the Yampa Valley values our abundance of clean water coming off the Continental Divide. Compared to many places, the Yampa River basin is an unspoiled gem of a water supply. What are we doing to ensure that future generations will enjoy the same pristine water supply? I am asking that we support a proposal to conduct a comprehensive, Yampa River Upper Basin groundwater baseline analysis.
A recent proposal to the Routt County Board of Commissioners by the U.S. Geological Survey would use almost 100 locations throughout the upper basin to provide a scientific study of current groundwater conditions. In the past few years, the USGS has worked with Routt County, Steamboat Springs, Mount Werner Water, the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation District to assess the current surface water conditions in the upper basin and to establish an ongoing monitoring program. Thanks to all of those involved. Remember that the USGS is a scientific agency, not a regulatory agency. They produce high quality, reliable scientific data, not rules.
A comprehensive groundwater study would identify any current or pre-existing groundwater quality issues and give us a baseline to measure any changes that might occur in the future. It will protect all those future users of the valley's natural resources and allow us to hold accountable those who might diminish the quality of our most valuable natural resource.
Past generations of ranchers, recreationists and the mining interests have respected the Yampa Valley waters. Join me in urging our Board of Commissioners to work with the USGS and form a coalition of those who want to add groundwater quality to the ongoing surface water quality baseline effort in the Yampa Valley.