Clean Water Act Violations Widespread, EPA Enforcement Down

Violations of the Clean Water Act are rampant, but enforcement of the act by the U.S. EPA is down sharply in the last three years. According to a new study by the U.S. Public Research Interest Group, more than 60 percent of all major plants and factories in the U.S. exceeded the Clean Water Act’s mandated limits on discharges into waterways at least once between January 1, 2002, and June 30, 2003 — some by as much as 600 percent. A separate report by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility found that enforcement actions by the EPA have decreased sharply during the Bush administration. In 2000, the agency made 105 criminal referrals to the Justice Department; in 2002, there were 26.