U.S. waters deemed dirty

EPA database details the state of the nation’s waterways

The majority of U.S. waterways suffer from pollution and are getting worse, a new report finds.

The Environmental Protection Agency released a new database titled “How’s My Waterway?” that details the condition of streams, lakes, estuaries and wetlands across the country, according to an EPA press release. The database finds 81 percent of U.S. coastal waters, 69 percent of lakes and 84 percent of wetlands to be “impaired,” or “unable to support their designated uses.” The results are particularly grim in light of the 40th anniversary of 1972’s Clean Water Act, as little progress has been made toward the law’s promise to return the nation’s water to drinkable, swimmable and fishable conditions.

The data may underestimate the scope of the problem, however, as only 27 percent of rivers and streams and only 1 percent of wetlands have been properly assessed and figures do not include new chemicals that do not have set pollution standards.