HomeOutdoorsRoughly Half of US Water Too ‘Impaired’ for Fishing, Drinking, or Swimming: Study

Roughly Half of US Water Too ‘Impaired’ for Fishing, Drinking, or Swimming: Study

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by ANDRE BORGES/AFP via Getty Images)

Water pollution has been a high-profile problem for decades on an international scale. Now, though, a study revealed that about half of all US water is too “impaired” for fishing, swimming, or drinking. The study now has experts on the matter arguing for updated water assessment regulations.

Key Points:

  • Roughly half of the natural water sources in the US have become too polluted.
  • The recent study reveals the Clean Water Act, passed 50 years ago, has fallen far short of its goals.
  • Study contributors have requested updates to the US’s current water assessment practices.

Hundreds of Thousands of Miles of Rivers ‘Too Polluted’

Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) conducted this particular study. The group found that an alarming total number of American water sources are beyond polluted. According to The Hill, affected bodies of water include 700,000 miles of waterways. That’s in addition to 51% of assessed river and stream miles, 55% of lake acres, and 26% of estuary miles.

Altogether, the study finds that nearly half of US water sources became too polluted, failing to meet standards for swimming, recreation, aquatic life, fish consumption, and drinking water. The disheartening report saw assessments of rivers and streams across all 50 US states.

That said, the outlet shared some states have done better than others in upholding the standards set forth by the Clean Water Act. Researchers participating in the study found that Indiana tops the list of states with the dirtiest water sources, followed by Oregon then South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the outlet reports Florida ranks first in the US for total acres of lakes classified as impaired for swimming and aquatic life. The Southern state ranks second for total lake acres impaired for any use.

Unfortunately, though, the study was unable to provide the full context of the current water pollution crisis in the US. Despite guidelines set forth by the Clean Water Act, every US state has different monitoring practices for its native water sources, therefore the EIP is unable to see the full scope of the crisis.

Further, the EIP estimates 73% of rivers and stream miles went unassessed during the latest cycle. As a result, findings from the water study possibly became skewed or completely wrong.

EIP Arguing for Updated Regulations for Monitoring Bodies of Water

Because the Clean Water Act “has not achieved what it promised,” EIP representatives are calling for an update in policies and monitoring practices. The news outlet reports that updates to current monitoring software have not been updated since the 1970s.

Since then, highly pollutive industries have grown and emerged, with agriculture industries greatly contributing to water pollution.

The Hill reports run-off from agriculture has greatly influenced the rate of pollution in the US. The EIP report said, “Factory-style animal production has become an industry with a massive waste disposal problem and should be regulated like other large industries.”

Essentially, run-off carrying excess fertilizer and manure washes into streams and rivers. This is what leads to deadly algal blooms.