Renowned Environmentalist Says U.S. Water Pollution Cleanup is Ineffective and Wasteful
Water pollution has long been a topic of debate throughout the U.S., and one environmentalist thinks that the billions of dollars being spent to combat it are being wasted on the wrong solutions.
According to Pamplin Media Group, Joe Whitworth, executive director of the Freshwater Trust in Portland, OR, claims that much of America’s water pollution problem stems from improper allocation of preventative resources from the government.
Whitworth contends that, while the country is spending boatloads of money to undo water pollution, it is compounding the issue by failing to address sources of pollution that contaminate already-polluted bodies.
The claims are made in Whitworth’s new book, “Quantified: Redefining Conservation for a New Economy.” He adds that the conservation movement has good intentions, but is attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole by administering “one-size fits all” regulations to stop water pollution.
“We are just throwing money at problems, and hope it works,” said Whitworth.
Currently, over 147 million people do not have access to clean water, a crisis that is made even worse by the lack of potable fresh water around the world. According to National Geographic, only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh, and only 1% is easily accessible.
Whitworth argues that environmentalists need to have a “come to Jesus” moment, meaning that they should be admitting their prior faults and using the new technology available to them to get positive results.
“For the first time, we can see clearly what the environmental benefit actually is, and we should align our actions accordingly,” he said.
“It’s the difference between spending billions and spending billions right. By engaging quantified conservation, we’d make big water-quality gains straightaway with money we’re already spending.”
The passage of the Clean Water Act was successful in that it eliminated “point sources” of water pollution, which were often sewer pipes discharging harmful contaminants into the water.
Where the Clean Water Act failed was in remitting “nonpoint sources” — like the polluted runoff from farms in which harmful chemicals are used to protect crops from animals — from the legislation.
While Whitworth believes his book details a realistic way to drastically reduce water pollution, he also thinks the clock may be running out on humanity’s chance to avoid a widespread water crisis.
“When water is in trouble, everything is in trouble, including the economy, the environment and life itself,” he said.