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Delaware’s rivers and streams are the most polluted in the U.S., a new report says

From: WHYY News 

Delaware has a higher percentage of rivers and streams affected by pollution than any other state in the country, according to an Environmental Integrity Project report that evaluates the success of the Clean Water Act — 50 years after it was signed into law.

Released Thursday, the report evaluates waterways across the United States that are classified as impaired. That means they’re too polluted to meet standards for uses such as swimming and recreation, aquatic life, fish consumption, and drinking.

The report credits some of the successes of the Clean Water Act —- it provided funding for thousands of upgrades to wastewater treatment plants and played a role in reducing raw human waste and industrial discharges from pouring into rivers and streams. However, the report’s authors argue there are weaknesses in the law that have left several waterways tainted.

The Environmental Integrity Project is calling for federal and state agencies to hold farms accountable for agricultural runoff and impose harsher enforcement of regulations, upgrade technology for treatment plants, and improve standards for those plants.

“Fifty years ago, we had the imagination and political will to face big problems and try to do something about them. We’re hoping at this half-century mark that we can find the courage to recommit to the Clean Water Act and make the hard decisions we need to make if we’re ever going to get fishable and swimmable water for everyone,” said Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project and former director of civil enforcement at the Environmental Protection Agency. His comment came during a Thursday press conference on the report.