Stafford testifies to Senate on Clean Water Act

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(Host) When the U.S. Senate Environment Committee examined the thirty-year legacy of the Clean Water Act, it turned to one of the people who made the law a reality.

Former Vermont Senator Robert Stafford came out of retirement Tuesday to testify before the committee that he used to chair. The 89-year-old former senator spoke by video hook-up from Castleton State College. The committee hearing was broadcast over the Internet:

(Stafford) “We have come a long way since 1972. And it’s almost impossible to imagine there was a time in Vermont when rivers would turn the color of dye used in the woolen mills. And when untreated human sewage flowed directly into the waters of our state. But that is part of history.”

(Host) Stafford says the Clean Water Act changed national attitudes toward the environment. He says the law was significantly strengthened in 1987 due to a bipartisan effort in Congress. Stafford chaired the Environment Committee at the time. According to Stafford, the act has gone a long way to clean up the nation’s waterways through construction of sewage treatment plants.

Yet he says the problem of non-point pollution, such as the dirty run off from farms and city streets, remains a serious issue. And he says there’s not enough money to complete the clean-up:

(Stafford) “I understand the EPA estimates that non-point source pollution is responsible for close to 50% of our current water quality problems. It must be addressed if we’re to take the next step in cleaning up our waters.”

(Host) Stafford says that thirty years ago, and again in 1987, Congress met the challenge facing the rivers and lakes. He says the current Congress must use the same bipartisan approach to finish the job.

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