Recent Event Highlights: Largest Coastal No-Discharge Zone Designated Along California Coast, EPA Establishes Landmark Chesapeake Bay "Pollution Diet", Executive Order Forming Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, Water Infrastructure Improvements Needed, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Chesapeake Bay Executive Order, and 32 more...
Created by usepagov2 on Mar 5, 2012
Last updated: 03/19/12 at 04:46 PM
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The 1,624 miles of California coastline, from Mexico to Oregon, and surrounding major islands are deemed a no-discharge zone by the EPA as a ban is placed on large cruise ships and other large ocean-going ships from discharging any sewage into California's marine waters. Over 20 million gallons of vessel sewage is kept off the state's beaches, a boon to the state's economy, helping to protect marine species, fisheries, residents and tourists.
Eleven federal agencies form the Urban Waters Federal Partnership to revitalize urban waterways across the nation. The partnership announces pilot locations for initial efforts to stimulate regional and local economies, create local jobs, improve quality of life, and protect Americans’ health by supporting community revitalization of urban waterways in under-served communities.
The pollution diet, formally known as the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL), identifies the necessary reductions of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment from Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The diet is driven primarily by these jurisdictions’ plans to put all needed pollution controls in place by 2025.
The task force will coordinate efforts to implement restoration programs and projects in the gulf coast region. It also will coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services on public health issues and with other federal agencies on ways to enhance the economic benefits that ecosystem restoration will bring to the region.
EPA estimates that more than $298 billion is needed over the next 20 years to meet the nation's wastewater infrastructure needs.
The BP-operated Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico explodes, killing 11 workers. The resulting release is the largest oil spill in American history.
EPA and federal agencies commit to actions to significantly reduce the harmful environmental impacts of Appalachian mountaintop mining operations. EPA acts on its commitment by issuing comprehensive permit review guidance, developing and publishing new peer-reviewed science, and exercising its Clean Water Act authorities to prevent unacceptable impacts, safeguard streams, and protect Appalachian communities.
President Barack Obama signs an Executive Order recognizing the Chesapeake Bay as a national treasure and calling on the federal government to lead a renewed effort to restore and protect the nation’s largest estuary and its watershed.
EPA estimates that more than $334 billion in drinking water infrastructure investment is needed over the next 20 years to continue to provide safe drinking water.
EPA issues the Ground Water Rule to reduce risk of contaminations in public water systems that use ground water. Ground water had historically been considered free from contamination, but 1996 data from the Center for Disease Control showed 318 waterborne disease outbreaks over the previous two decades at systems using ground water. The new rule protects consumers regardless of their system’s water source.
In Rapanos v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that isolated wetlands could not be considered "waters of the U.S." under the Clean Water Act, but the court differed in its interpretation of how to define an isolated wetland, which has created uncertainty about which waters are subject to protection under the Clean Water Act.
EPA and industry partners join to create the WaterSense program, which seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering practical ways to use less water. Through the use of water-efficient products and services, WaterSense has helped consumers save 46 billion gallons of water and $343 million on their water and sewer bills since its launch.
EPA’s series of surface water treatment rules require removal and inactivation of waterborne pathogens to protect the health of 100 million Americans who obtain their drinking water from surface water sources such as lakes, rivers, streams and reservoirs.
EPA, states and tribes begin sampling for the first assessment of the condition of the nation’s small streams. By 2013, all rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and coastal waters of the continental U.S. will have been assessed under the national aquatic resource surveys.
EPA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issue their first joint consumer advisory about mercury in fish and shellfish. The purpose of the advisory was to inform women of child bearing age, children and minority populations that may consume large amounts of fish from polluted waters how to achieve the positive health benefits from eating fish and shellfish, while minimizing their mercury exposure.
EPA officially moves to clean up Hudson River PCB contamination by removing approximately 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a 40-mile stretch of the river.
In Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Supreme Court denies Clean Water Act protection for thousands of wetlands that serve as habitat for migratory birds, ruling that the Clean Water Act was being applied too broadly - "an impingement of states' power" - and that the law cannot be used to protect isolated wetlands.
Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act requires adopt water quality criteria to protect beachgoers from bacteria and authorizes EPA to provide states with grants to test beach waters and notify the public of unsafe water quality conditions.
EPA launches a website providing information on air and water toxic levels in specific communities. The idea later evolved into user-friendly maps that provide data on a specific location with the click of a mouse.
Following pfiesteria outbreaks on the mid-Atlantic coast, EPA and other federal agencies issue a federal response plan supporting state response efforts coordinating research with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and enhancing prevention activities.
EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner and Canada's Minister of the Environment sign a plan to remove toxic substances from the Great Lakes by 2006. The Great Lakes provide drinking water to over 15 million people.
The "Surf Your Watershed" tool is launched online, allowing citizens to type in their zip codes to learn about their local watersheds.
President Clinton signs amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act to improve protections ensuring that all Americans have access to clean, safe drinking water. The law makes funding available to upgrade water treatment plants and requires public drinking water suppliers to inform customers about chemicals and microbes in their water.
Cryptosporidium, a parasidic disease spread by contaminated water, sickens 400,000 people and kills more than 100 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now, EPA regulates cryptosporidium in drinking water through the Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule.
New York City was the last U.S. city to dump sewage at sea. It stopped as a result of its agreement with EPA under the Ocean Dumping Ban Act of 1988.
Puget Sound is first estuary to have a conservation plan under the National Estuary Program. There are now plans for 28 “Estuaries of National Significance.”
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, most hazardous wastes must be treated before they are disposed of on land to prevent toxins from contaminating the ground water supply.
Exxon Valdez spills 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound and is fined $1 billion. The spill spurs the adoption of the Pollution Prevention Act.
EPA issues comprehensive and stringent requirements for nearly 2 million underground storage tanks, half of which are used to store gasoline at service stations, in order to protect local water supplies from contamination by petroleum and chemical products stored underground.
Medical and other waste washes up on shores, closing beaches in New York and New Jersey. Concern over the potential health hazards prompt Congress to enact the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988.
Congress amends the Clean Water Act and establishes a comprehensive program for controlling toxic pollutants and stormwater discharges, a nonpoint source pollution grant program, and special programs to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes and other large estuaries. The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund Program becomes the principal funding source for water quality protection projects. The amendments also established a program to help pay for wastewater systems for federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages.
EPA Administrator Lee M. Thomas names endangered wetlands as a top EPA priority and announces the new Office of Wetlands Protection. He charged the new office with researching wetlands ecosystems, reaching out to property owners and educating them on wetlands value, and strengthening protection measures.
President Ronald Reagan signs the Amendments, which require the EPA to regulate over 100 contaminants by 1991 and expand EPA enforcement power. The legislation also banned the use of lead materials in water systems and called for tighter regulation of drinking water wells.
EPA sponsors the first Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup, an annual event where volunteers remove litter and debris from beaches and waterways.
United States v. Riverside Bayview was a Supreme Court case challenging the scope of federal regulatory powers over waterways as pertaining to the definition of "waters of the United States" as written in the Clean Water Act of 1972. The Court ruled unanimously that the government does have the power to control intrastate wetlands as waters of the United States.
Federal, state and local partners initiate a clean up of the Chesapeake Bay, which is plagued with pollution from sewage treatment plants, urban runoff and farm waste. The cleanup continues today.
President Jimmy Carter signs the Clean Water Act, amending the 1972 version. The Act stressed the importance of toxic pollutant control. A construction grant over five years created thousands of jobs, aided state and local planning, and encouraged experimentation with new water treatment methods.
National drinking water standards went into effect for the first time. For the first time, all public water suppliers were required to test their public water routinely and notify their customers if water was not up to EPA standards.
Congress passes the Safe Drinking Water Act, allowing EPA to regulate the quality of public drinking water.
In the first action of its kind in the nation, the Indiana Stream Pollution Control Board issues EPA-approved permits to five Indiana companies.
Congress enacts the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act to prohibit the ocean dumping of material into the ocean that would unreasonably degrade or endanger human health or the marine environment.
Congress passes the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act. The purpose of the Clean Water Act is to restore and maintain our nation's waters by preventing pollution, providing assistance to publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands.
The U.S. and Canada agree to clean up the Great Lakes, which contain 95 percent of America’s fresh water and supply drinking water to approximately 25 million people.
Following President Richard Nixon's "Reorganization Plan No. 3" issued in July 1970, EPA is officially established on December 2nd, 1970. The agency consolidates federal research, monitoring and enforcement activities in a single agency. EPA's mission is to protect human health by safeguarding the air we breathe, water we drink and land on which we live.
Time magazine describes how "each day, Detroit, Cleveland and 120 other municipalities fill Erie with 1.5 billion gallons of inadequately treated wastes, including nitrates and phosphates. Between human sewage and pollution from steel, paper, and automobile plants, Time magazine said, Lake Erie was in danger of dying by suffocation.
The Cuyahoga River in Ohio becomes so polluted that it catches on fire. The 1969 Cuyahoga River fire helped spur an avalanche of water pollution control activities like the Clean Water Act and the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. By bringing national attention to water pollution issues, the Cuyahoga River fire was one of the events that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, an indignant look at pollution in the United States, jump-starts the environmental movement. Carson, a birdwatcher, worried that pesticides were killing off her feathered friends. She also wrote about harmful chemicals used for defoliation in the Vietnam War.