Troubled Waters 1963 Water Pollution Report of the US Senate Committee on Public Works





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Uploaded on Mar 31, 2011

Narrated by Henry Fonda, this 25 minutes documentary film,Troubled Waters, tells the story of the many forms and sources of water pollution focusing on the Ohio River, but also including places such as Vermont, Maine, Alaska, Missouri, Tenneessee, Washington DC and California. The film highlights community efforts to solve the problem, time factors involved, thermal and chemical pollution and the need for more research in the field of water quality. This unique film was prepared as a report of the Sub-committee on Air and Water Pollution of the Senate Committee on Public Works of the 88th Congress at the behest of the Chairman, Senator Muskie (Maine). It was produced under the guidance of Muskie's Subcommittee staff based on a 1963 staff study on water pollution. That study and this film were helpful in the passage of the Water Quality Act of 1965, during the first month of the 89th Congress. In his February 1965 newsletter to his Maine constituents, Muskie wrote: "I am happy to report that my water pollution abatement bill has become the first piece of Great Society legislation to be adopted by the Senate.'' While the late Edmund Muskie served a variety of important public roles during his esteemed career - Governor, United States Senator, candidate for President, and Secretary of State - he will probably be best remembered as a skillful and accomplished national leader who molded environmental policy from 1963 until 1980, what may be usefully characterized as the formative years of modern American environmental law. During the course of his seventeen-year chairmanship of the United States Senate's Special Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution (the "Subcommittee"), Chairman Muskie helped move the nation, both politically and intellectually, from a state-centered, decentralized and laissez-faire regime of pollution control laws to a federalized, centralized and rigorous environmental regulatory system. Federal water legislation dates back to the nineteenth century, when Congress enacted the River and Harbor Act of 1886. Recognizing the threat that dirty water posed to the public health and welfare, Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) in 1948, in order to "enhance the quality and value of our water resources and to establish a national policy for the prevention, control and abatement of water pollution." The original Act and its amendments broadened the Federal government's authority in water pollution control. The Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1956 strengthened enforcement provisions by providing for an abatement suit at the request of a State pollution control agency; where health was being endangered, the Federal government no longer had to receive the consent of all States involved. The Federal role was further expanded under the Water Quality Act of 1965. That Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. The "Clean Water Act" became the Act's common name with amendments in 1977. That Act provided for the setting of water quality standards which are State and Federally enforceable; it became the basis for interstate water quality standards. For more information on water pollution and US laws pertaining to its control, go to the US EPA website http://water.epa.gov/ .The film is available at the US National Archive in College Park, Maryland.

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