Public opinion polls consistently document that Americans value water quality.
Although U.S. waterways have become cleaner because of pollution controls on industrial
discharges and sewage treatment plants, extensive water quality
problems remain. The Clean Water Act requires surface water quality to be high
enough to support fish and wildlife populations, protect drinking water sources,
and allow for human recreation. Nationwide, 36% of rivers and streams, 39% of
lakes and reservoirs, and 38% of estuaries are not supporting at least one of
these uses. Many more waterways are either threatened by degradation, or lack
the data required to assess their condition. See Scorecard's overview of water issues.
Provide your zipcode for a report on your community, or use the Pollution Locator to search for reports on specific areas. To get a national report on water quality, select an issue below.
NOTE: Data limitations: The official EPA sources that Scorecard uses for its water reports have important limitations and flaws. Most
The user of this information should always keep in mind what percentage of a state's water bodies were actually included in that state's report to EPA (i.e.,
how much was left out), and what percentage of the water bodies being reported
were actually assessed for the particular type of water quality impairment the
user is interested in (i.e., how thorough was the state's assessment).
- 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 a problem exists also are not uniform from state to state.
- The watershed index does not give a complete or necessarily reliable picture of either current conditions or future vulnerability.
Sources of data: 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.
Scorecard's profiles of watershed indicators are derived from U.S. EPA's Index
of Watershed Indicators, a science-based but limited analysis that uses varying
amounts and quality of data. The most recent available Index is from 1999 and is based on information gathered between 1990 and 1999.