The evolution between 1935 and 1965 of federal legislation to control water pollution and its relationship to water quality regulation in the Lower Columbia river Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/w3763973j

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  • This study traces the evolution of federal legislation to control water pollution in the period between 1935 and 1965. In this legislative history, the function of interest groups, the actions of congressmen and congressional committees, and the role of the President and the Executive Branch are reviewed. The water pollution control program as developed under this law provided financial and technical aid to state and interstate agencies for the development of state programs and financial aid to municipalities for the construction of sewage treatment facilities. The federal government also sponsored research on improved methods of waste treatment, and cooperated with state agencies in the collection of basic data on water quality. The most controversial elements of the federal program in the period between 1948 and 1965 were the attempts to control pollution through: 1) holding enforcement conferences between the particular states involved and the federal administering agency; and 2) setting water quality standards to reduce the amount of wastes discharged into interstate waters. The administering agencies played an important part in this program. The criticisms of these agencies and the numerous administrative reorganizations are emphasized. The overall effect of the federal water pollution control law is evaluated as having mixed results. The impact of the federal water pollution control legislation from 1948 through 1965 on water quality of the Lower Columbia River is examined. This impact took the following forms: 1) Financial aid was given to municipalities for the construction of waste treatment facilities which reduced the load of bacterial pollution and some of the organic pollution. 2) Grants were made to the state water pollution control agencies of Oregon and Washington which enabled these agencies to improve their programs. 3) An enforcement conference was initiated by the states of Oregon and Washington with the Public Health Service regarding the municipal and industrial pollution interferring with legitimate uses of the Lower Columbia River. Little was accomplished by this conference to affect the discharge of wastes from the pulp and paper mills, but other industries and most municipalities did meet the requirements of an Action Program devised by the conferees. In addition, the conference was at least partially responsible for making the city of Portland increase its treatment capacity and install chlorination facilities to rid the river downstream of serious levels of coliform bacteria. 4) The setting of water quality standards had a positive impact on the approach to water pollution control by requiring the states to catalog the waste sources and develop treatment requirements and time schedules for their abatement. Standards also gave state agencies one more weapon against recalcitrant polluters. In summary, the Water Pollution Control Act provided stimuli for the states of Oregon and Washington to improve the water quality of the Lower Columbia River.
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