The Clean Water Act (CWA), established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1972, has remained a cornerstone of United States environmental regulation for over half a century. Despite considerable progress, the nation still grapples with challenges in wastewater management, with microbial violations posing significant and persistent risks to public health. The increasing pressure to address these violations underlines the critical need for robust investment in infrastructure projects.
Microbial Violations: A Threat to Public Health and Clean Water Act Compliance
Microbial pollutants present the most pervasive problem on the EPA’s list of pollutants. These microorganisms, which include fecal coliform, E. coli, and Enterococci, constitute a staggering 28% of all Clean Water Act violations, causing the spread of waterborne illnesses and endangering public health. The EPA closely monitors presence of these microorganisms along with biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) levels, which indicate the rate at which oxygen is depleted by microorganisms decomposing organic matter in water sources. High BOD levels signal a serious microbial pollutant problem.
States grappling with nutrient violations frequently experience microbial ones, as excess nutrients provide a conducive environment for microorganisms to proliferate. A series of such violations, concentrated across Midwest and southern states (the same states dealing with the most microbial violations), validates this connection.
Louisiana’s Unique Challenge: Microbial Contamination
Louisiana finds itself at the forefront of this challenge, accounting for more than 22% of the total volume of microbial violations in the US. The state’s warm, humid climate and extensive wetland network foster an environment conducive to microbial growth. Moreover, once introduced, microbes become difficult to remove due to the intricate waterways. Nearly half of Louisiana’s effluent violations relate to microbial contamination, with fecal coliform posing a particular concern. The presence of some of the top ammonia-producing refineries in Louisiana and Texas further exacerbates this issue.
Investment in Infrastructure: The Way Forward
While Louisiana faces the most significant challenge, no state is immune to effluent violations. Therefore, infrastructure upgrades are essential across the country. Recent funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and other state and federal government initiatives offers an opportunity to bridge the gap between well-funded and under-resourced states.
The Role of Data in Clean Water Act Compliance
The creation and enforcement of EPA guidelines have been crucial in identifying and addressing instances of excessive pollution. As EPA broadens its scope to include emerging contaminants such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, communities gain more visibility into potential threats. The Citylitics Environmental Monitoring Dataset plays a pivotal role here, continually tracking these evolving signals and illustrating the complex narrative of water pollution in America, complete with its regulatory twists and turns.
The task of managing microbial pollution and achieving Clean Water Act compliance necessitates timely action, robust investment, and the leveraging of predictive sales intelligence. Only then can we secure a healthier and more sustainable future for our nation’s waterways.
Are you interested in tracking microbial violations, water pollution and other environmental issues? Citylitics’ Environmental Monitoring Dashboard (EMD) provides access to real-time data which helps our customers who help with solutions to these challenges. Book a Live Demo