Sarbanes Joins EPA in Highlighting Water Quality Improvements in Chesapeake Bay to Celebrate the Clean Water Act’s 50th Anniversary

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative John Sarbanes (D-Md.) joined U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, EPA Region 3 Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz, and other regional and community leaders to highlight water quality improvements in the Chesapeake Bay as part of the EPA's 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act celebration tour.

"The Clean Water Act set forth a vision for our country's waters that has guided our efforts to protect and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. On the 50th anniversary of this landmark law, we recognize its significance to the great progress we have made in reducing pollution in the Bay and in the watershed's lands, rivers and streams," said Congressman John Sarbanes. "To accelerate this work, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in water infrastructure improvements that present a new opportunity to meet the goals of the Bay Agreement and preserve this national treasure for generations to come."

"When Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972—with an overwhelming bipartisan majority—it charted a new path for America's waters. As a result, we have seen transformational progress over the last 50 years—waters that were once polluted are now fishable and swimmable," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. "President Biden and Congress have laid the foundation for the next 50 years of progress by investing $50 billion in EPA's water programs through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law."

"In just a few decades we are turning around 400 years of degradation of the Bay and the waters that flow into it. There is much still to do but there is certainly much to celebrate," said EPA Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz.

Five decades of Clean Water Act implementation have reduced direct pollution discharges to our nation's waters and improved wastewater and stormwater infrastructure. This progress was built on strong partnerships between EPA, and state, local, and Tribal governments as well as community and environmental organizations, industry, and agriculture.

The Chesapeake Bay serves as an economic powerhouse. Prior to the Bay TMDL being implemented, it was estimated that the Chesapeake Bay provided economic benefits to the region in the amount of $107.2 billion annually. It is further estimated that after the Bay TMDL is fully implemented, that annual value will increase by $22.5 billion. Since 2012, state partners have maximized more than $366 from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to invest in green infrastructure solutions that reduce pollution in the Bay. Now, with funding available from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the federal family will continue to invest in restoring and protecting the critical habitats that drive the region's economy and environmental health.

"The Clean Water Act has been essential to Bay restoration," said Hilary Falk, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The law provides the legal framework we depend on to reduce pollution in streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Without it, we could not have stemmed the flow of untreated sewage, toxic waste, and other harmful pollutants that industrial facilities once sent directly into our waterways. We also would not have the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the science-based plan to clean up the Bay. And we would not have the legal tools we need to continue pushing for water that is safe for the benefit of all who depend on clean water."

As EPA kicks off a tour celebrating the Clean Water Act, the agency is also collaborating with its partners to chart a course for the next fifty years of progress for clean water. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has provided a historic investment in water infrastructure, including $12.7 billion through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund programs that were established by the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act. This funding is a significant investment in the future of clean water in the country. This investment in improved, resilient infrastructure will have positive impacts on waterways for years to come.