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The history & future of the Clean Water Act

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Credit: Dave Davis, Pine Barrens, NJ

With the average political soundbite on TV having shrunk to about 8 seconds, it’s refreshing to hear a reasoned policy discussion that doesn’t dissolve into packaged one-liners.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies posted to its YouTube channel a recording of a fascinating session on the history and future of the Clean Water Act.  The nearly two-hour video, taped in April, features Dawson & Associates Senior Counsel/Senior Advocate Les Edelman discussing his role in creating and drafting this legislation while serving as Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Public Works and Transportation.

Other experts in the discussion include Leon Billings and Gordon Wood, both of whom were Congressional staff members who had preeminent roles in the creating and drafting of the Act.

Les’ formal remarks begin at about 17:47 and they last about 13 minutes, though he actively participates throughout the session.  Anyone interested in the Urban Rivers Renewal Initiative should also listen to Les’ insights towards the end of the session.

Throughout this event, Les shows why he’s one of the nation’s recognized leaders on the history of the Clean Water Act.  He was intimately involved in the negotiations that produced this law and for nearly 20 years since passage, he served as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

To read an excerpt from Les’ testimony, click here.

For almost 50 years, the federal Clean Water Act has provided the main legal and regulatory framework for addressing water quality and pollution. The Act is responsible for significant improvements in lake and river water quality, revitalized urban waterfronts and a general improvement in public welfare.

Maj. Gen. (Ret) Don Riley

Senior Vice President

Gen. Riley is a former Deputy Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


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