Five Decades of Clean Water Act Achievements; U.S. Water Expert Tells Congress to Protect CWA-Funded Projects

Sep 20, 2022


National Association of Clean Water Agencies Board member testifies on role of public clean water utilities in CWA success stories, including restoration of major US rivers, green stormwater infrastructure, and new climate change practices for reducing GHG emissions, such as reusing biogas from wastewater treatment.

WASHINGTON, D.C.  Passaic Valley (NJ) Sewerage Commission General Counsel Michael Witt delivered Congressional testimony today about the role of public clean water utilities in the historic achievements of the Clean Water Act, during a public hearing hosted by the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) Board member laid out detailed examples on how and where Clean Water Act funding has benefitted American cities, rivers, and the environment over its 50-year history.

An excerpt from PVSC General Counsel Michael Witt’s official testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment stated:

“… By many measures, the Clean Water Act has fulfilled the goals of its drafters. More than $60 billion dollars provided through the Act’s Construction Grants Program in the 1970s and 1980s helped create vital partnerships among the federal, state and local governments to improve wastewater treatment facilities. Over the last 50 years, the effects of the Clean Water Act and its subsequent amendments have had a profoundly positive impact on improving our nation’s water quality and public health.

Public clean water utilities have resoundingly responded to the challenge in what can only be described as one of the greatest success stories of modern engineering, science, and planning, highlighting the power of the local-state-federal partnership created by the Act.

There are many examples of this success. 50 years after the Cuyahoga River unfortunately served as the posterchild for water pollution, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency declared that the river had been restored to the level where it is now safe to eat fish caught there. Along with the passage of the Act, my colleagues at the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and its member communities deserve much of the credit for that success.

Other examples include the City of Seattle, Washington, which is using innovative Green Stormwater Infrastructure to control its combined sewer system, enabling the city to cut pollution to its waterways by 75%.

In Alexandria, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from where we are sitting, Alexandria Renew Enterprises is capturing and reusing biogas from its treatment process to use as a heating fuel. As a result, it has realized a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas generation since 2005. These projects were funded in part by the Clean Water Act.

At my place of work, PVSC used Clean Water Act construction grants to construct an advanced secondary treatment process that went operational in 1981. This allows us to provide wastewater treatment services for one out of every six people in the entire state, making PVSC the single most important public health infrastructure investment to date in the State of New Jersey.

These are just a handful of the clean water utility success stories under the Clean Water Act.”

For more information and to learn more about CWA-funding success stories, download NACWA’s CWA 50th Anniversary Report at: www.nacwa50report.org.



For over 50 years, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) has been the nation’s recognized leader in legislative, regulatory, legal and communications advocacy on the full spectrum of clean water issues. NACWA represents public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. Our unique and growing network strengthens the advocacy voice for the public clean water sector and helps advance policies to provide affordable and sustainable clean water for all.  Our vision is to advance sustainable and responsible policy initiatives that help to shape a strong and sustainable clean water future. For more information, visit us at www.nacwa.org.


ABOUT Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission

The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission in Newark, New Jersey was formed in 1897, and is one of the oldest environmental agencies in the United States. PVSC has provided public sewer service for nearly a century, and operates the fifth-largest wastewater facility in the nation, treating over 250 million gallons of wastewater per day and providing service to 1.5 million residents in 48 municipalities across northeastern New Jersey.

 Patrick Mitchell for more information or to arrange interviews with NACWA and its members at pmitchell@bannerpublicaffairs.com.

Back To Top