POLLUTION LOCATOR|Water| Clean Water Act Status Report - Content Descriptions

Clean Water Act Status Report - Content Descriptions

This report profiles the Clean Water Act status of surface waters in a community. The CWA requires states to identify all waters where required pollution controls are not sufficient to attain or maintain applicable water quality standards and rank the waters taking into account the uses of the water and severity of the pollution problem. Under the CWA, waters have designated beneficial uses (such as recreation, or aquatic habitat support). Scorecard identifies where beneficial uses are reported to be impaired, as well as the causes and sources of impairment. You can take action to urge public officials to protect water quality.

Data Source: Scorecard's profiles of Clean Water Act status are derived from U.S. EPA's tracking system to identify surface waters that fail to meet regulatory water quality standards (TMDL tracking system). This, in turn, relies on reports from the individual states. The most current available data are for the year 1998.

NOTE: Data limitations: The official EPA sources that Scorecard uses, compiled from reports by each individual state, have important limitations and flaws. Most importantly:

  • Not all water bodies or watersheds are included.
  • The criteria for including water bodies are not uniform from state to state.
  • The criteria for determining whether impairment exists also are not uniform from state to state.
The user of this information should always keep in mind that some portion of a state's water bodies may be left out, and there is no reliable way to determine how much has been left out. One partial clue is the percentage of particular types of waterbodies (such as Rivers, Streams, and Creeks) that a state has assessed for the most recent two-year reporting period; but see possible inconsistencies within state data.


Map Locating Clean Water Act Problems
Scorecard provides maps at the national, state, county, and watershed level that illustrate the number of impaired waterbodies and show their location. Pie charts at the state, county, and watershed level illustrate the percentage of surface waters with impaired or threatened uses.
More on Scorecard's mapper.

Clean Water Act Comparative Ranking
Scorecard gives you a way to compare the water quality of your community with other communities within your state and across the nation. You can rank states, counties, and watersheds by the number of impaired waterbodies or the percentage of surface waters with impaired or threatened uses. In addition, states can be ranked by the number of waterbodies impaired by a specific cause (e.g., sediment) or source (e.g., agriculture). Data
limitations affect the accuracy of rankings and comparisons.

1998 Clean Water Act Status
The summary provides an overview of Clean Water Act compliance in your community. Scorecard calculates the percentage of surface waters with impaired or threatened uses and the total number of impaired waterbodies in any geographic area (based on state data, which may be incomplete; see
data limitations). Scorecard indicates which designated beneficial uses are most frequently impaired. This section also indicates how water bodies have been prioritized for regulation, providing a measure of the severity of problems and the degree to which those problems are being addressed.

Leading Pollutants/Stressors of Surface Waters
This section identifies the
pollutants or stressors that are causing water quality degradation in an area. Pollutants include sediment, nutrients, and chemical contaminants (such as dioxins and metals). Stressors are processes that degrade waters and include habitat modification (such as destruction of streamside vegetation) and hydrologic modification (such as dams). Listed pollutants and stressors directly impair designated beneficial uses. At the national, state, county, and watershed level, Scorecard shows the number of waterbodies reported to be impaired due to specific sources for each of four types of waterbodies. Scorecard also shows what percent of a state's waterbodies were assessed by regulatory agencies. See data limitations; see also possible inconsistencies.

Leading Sources of Water Quality Problems
This section identifies the
sources or activities responsible for the pollutants or stressors which are degrading water quality (such as agriculture). At the national, state, county, and watershed level, Scorecard shows the number of waterbodies reported to be impaired due to specific sources for each of four types of waterbodies. Scorecard also shows what percent of a state's waterbodies were assessed by regulatory agencies. See data limitations; see also possible inconsistencies.

Take Action
Scorecard enables people to take a variety of actions to protect water quality in this community: send messages to regulatory and legislative decision makers about water quality, volunteer with environmental groups working on water problems, or share your opinion about water issues in your community.

Links
Scorecard provides links to additional online resources on surface water quality for this area, and to Scorecard reports profiling other pollution issues in your community.