CLEVELAND - Water. It's a precious commodity, and it's so important to our economy and our health.
It's everywhere and in the Cuyahoga River, that vital element has never been cleaner. That can be said as well for the Great Lakes as well, thanks to the work that started with the Clean Water Act.
But all of that could change and money is the root of the problem.
The Cuyahoga River has changed drastically in the 45 years since the Clean Water Act went into effect.
"The Clean Water Act seeks three goals," says Jane Goodman, Executive Director of Cuyahoga River Restoration. "Fishable, swimmable, and drinkable."
Right now, the Cuyahoga River is closer to meeting those three goals than ever before.
The fish population has grown, the water is swimmable, spawning water sports in the waterway such a rowing and kayaking.
While it's not yet drinkable, it's much less polluted than in the past.
But changes at the federal level could reverse all of that progress.
"It's not enough to have a program if you don't support the personnel that run it," Goodman says. Cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency could mean many of the efforts to clean up our waterway could deteriorate.
"If we are required as local government to come up with the money for these projects, it's just not going to happen," Goodman adds.
That means no more dredging of the river and no one to keep an eye on those who cause harm by dumping or other industrial activity.
Mike Mikulka represents those who currently do that job and says we're in danger without them. "The public will be harmed, the environment will be harmed and in some cases, the effects of some of those actions are long-term," he says.
Goodman argues money shouldn't be deciding factor in regard to public health. "The only agency, the only people who are protecting us...are threatened by budget cuts," she says.
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