• Pollution standards for different industries – standards that determine what the industries can put into the water and what they can’t – are out of date. Plus, new pollutants are emerging, including pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
• Aging infrastructure – including treatment plants and sewage systems that in some cities date to the 19th century – is a growing threat to water quality. Even sewage treatment plants built with federal money in the early years of the Clean Water Act are in need of upgrades.
“If we don’t reinvest in that infrastructure, we’ll start falling backwards again, in part due to population growth,” says Robert Adler, a professor of law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and the author of a book on the Clean Water Act.