The goal of the Action Center on Drinking Water and Pollution is to solve drinking water challenges with equitable solutions that address water pollution at the source. Polluting industries, not vulnerable communities, should bear the cost of cleaning up pollution that threatens drinking water sources.
The Action Center promotes policies to tackle sources of pollution that pose public health risks in drinking water and to identify and challenge inequities in implementation of the Clean Water Act, the nation’s landmark water pollution prevention law.
Many sources of pollution that lead to contamination of sources of drinking water are not adequately controlled by federal environmental policies, including the water pollution control programs of the Clean Water Act. For example, while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified integration of the nation’s primary water laws - the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act - as a priority, progress has been slow.
The Action Center takes Clean Water’s “Putting Drinking Water First” approach to address long-standing and emerging health and environmental risks with consideration of drinking water impacts as a starting point.
Preventing Water Pollution and Disparate Impact While Protecting Drinking Water
Ongoing Action Center priorities focus on specific areas where headway on pollution prevention is possible and where drinking water impacts are evident, including using Clean Water Act programs to get widespread “forever” PFAS chemicals out of drinking water sources and protecting drinking water sources from oil and gas water pollution (from drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations and their waste water).
Addressing Inequities in the Clean Water Act
We know that burdens of pollution, and the programs meant to address them, burden some people and communities more than others. For that reason, working to identify and address inequities in Clean Water Act programs is a signature project of the Action Center. Our Clean Water Act Equity Project identifies and explores remedies to disproportionate impacts on people of color and low-income communities in implementation of key Clean Water Act programs, including National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.
Additional resources on Equity and Environmental Justice related to EPA initiatives:
- EJScreen, Comments on revised EPA Environmental Justice screening tool, 2022
- Keeping an Eye on Justice40, Thea Louis blog post, February 2022
- Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund Comments on EPA, Clean Water Act Effluent Limitations and Guidelines Program Plan 15, October 2021
- Making Sure the Clean Water Act Keeps Working, Andrew Grinberg blog post on Clean Water Act/Clean Water Fund comments on EPA, Clean Water Act, ELG-15 Plan