SELC op-ed: Virginians want clean water
This week The Roanoke Times published a letter from Senior Attorney Deborah Murray highlighting the key role clean water plays in Virginian life. Below is an excerpt from the full letter, which is available here.
As July grows hotter, thousands of Virginians take to the Shenandoah, the James, the New, and countless other Virginia waterways. They go there to swim with children and grandchildren, fish for smallmouth bass and trout, to float in tubes and paddle canoes, and to just plain cool off. Millions more drink water year-round that comes from our rivers and streams. From the marshes and estuaries of the coast and the Chesapeake Bay, to the broad rivers of the Piedmont, to the swift mountain streams of western Virginia, it’s clear that Virginians are wild about water.
With more than 100,000 miles of streams and approximately one million acres of wetlands, our Commonwealth is rich in water resources. Virginians know this and place a premium on clean water for drinking and recreation.
Water quality in Virginia has improved over the past several decades, with many more rivers and streams fishable and swimmable than once were. Many of these improvements can be traced to the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972. The Act was put in place with two commonsense principles in mind: that pollution must be controlled at its source to keep our rivers, streams, and lakes clean; and that the burden of controlling pollution must fall on the polluting industries. Dealing with water pollution after it becomes a problem is far less effective, far less efficient, and far less economical than keeping pollutants out of our water in the first place.