Audubon Society of Rhode Island:
Public opinion polls find that clean water is a top environmental priority for most Americans. We appreciate and enjoy water for swimming, fishing, boating and paddling. We expect clean and safe drinking water supplies.
The Clean Water Act, first passed in 1972, has been successful in cleaning up the country’s waterways. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs implemented in partnership with the states have removed sewage and industrial effluents that once polluted waterways. Throughout the country, lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and coastal waters are much cleaner. Here in Rhode Island, we have seen this transformation. Old timers talk about the Blackstone River running blue and red with dye from the local mills. Today, you can see kayaks and fishermen on the river.
Nationally the remaining challenge to water quality is nonpoint source (NPS) pollution – the oil, metals, sediment and other pollutants that are washed from the landscape when it rains. In Rhode Island, storm water runoff (or NPS) is a significant source of pollution, particularly in urbanized areas.