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Sierra Club Water Sentinels

Toxic Contaminants

The Clean Water Act established a goal of eliminating the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985, but toxins continue to be discharged in alarming quantities.

These chemicals fall into groups that may present "unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment." More specifically, this means that they:

  • persist in, and are found throughout, the environment
  • demonstrate bioaccumulation, meaning they move up the food chain as larger animals eat smaller ones
  • are proven chemical toxins in animal tests

Power plants are the nation's biggest source of toxic waste. Much of that waste once went into the sky, but due to tougher air pollution laws it now increasingly goes into lakes and rivers, or landfills that leak into nearby groundwater. Mining operations and manufacturing industries are also sources of toxic discharges.

Through water testing and reporting, the Water Sentinels track the presence of toxins in our lakes, rivers, and streams. We report violations and help develop tighter regulations that will reduce and ultimately eliminate toxins in our waterways and drinking water.

We hope you will join us as we work to protect the American public from these sources of water pollution.

Learn more | Find Water Sentinels in your area | Contact us

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