Clean Water Act turns 50

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KBSI) – This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

It was established in 1972 and is the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the basis of the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1948 and was called the federal water pollution control act, but the act was reorganized and expanded in 1972.

“We’re treating, on average, five million gallons of water a day, and we’re producing roughly 700 dry tons of fertilizer product a year,” said Todd Fulton, wastewater plant manager for the City of Cape.

The primary responsibility of Cape’s wastewater utility is to operate and maintain the system that collects, treats, and disposes of sewage generated within the city.

“So, we take all of the wastewater generated at the household level, restaurant industry, hospitals, in town and we clean that water up to meet the discharge limits in our NPDS permit,” said Fulton. “We discharge all that water to the Mississippi River. We take the solids that are removed from the water, and we convert that into a fertilizer and distribute it to area farmers.”

The NPDS is the National Pollutant Discharge System for state disposal system permits and collective water quality standards for United States municipalities.

City of Cape officials say the sewer division maintains around 225 miles of sewer lines. Many of these lines run by gravity flow.

There are numerous lift stations throughout the city that pump the sewage when gravity flow does not work.

All waste in the sewer system eventually ends up at the wastewater facility to be treated, tested, and discharged back into the environment.

“I’ve spent most of my life now in the wastewater treatment industry, and that is a direct result of passage of the Clean Water Act,” said Fulton.

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