Photo: Darwin Bell via Flickr
It's been almost 40 years since the Clean Water Act became the law of the land in the United States.
And almost 40 years later, enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is lacking and violations are rising.
A New York Times investigation, "Toxic Waters," shows there have been a half million violations of the act in the last five years alone at chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces, and fines are rarely levied.
The report includes an interactive database where folks can search by ZIP code to see violations in their area.
The new EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, has vowed to tighten the spicket on violations, and increase the flow of fines for violators.
In the meantime, the information from the NYT, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, shows a disconnect between federal and state agencies that are supposed to be making sure our waterways are kept clean.
Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality, for instance, argues that the federal database is out of date, and fines levied aren't included in the EPA figures.
And in the meantime, people are drinking water that's unsafe. An estimated 1 in 10 Americans have been exposed to drinking water that contains chemicals linked to cancer and other ailments, the paper reports.