The initial US federal law that addressed water pollution in an impactful way was the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948. This came in the wake of several political, social, and economic shifts (such as industrialization and globalization) that had left rivers in the US unhealthy and damaged.
This initial law was a step in the right direction but not a total solution. Future amendments sought to increase its implementation and impact.
Those amendments came to a head in 1972, where coordinated effort led to the culmination of these additions becoming known as the Clean Water Act, which:
More recent additions and amendments have sought to further strengthen protection for the rivers, water and ecosystems that keep us alive. Read more on the EPA's History of the Clean Water Act page.
The Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) requires us to report on certain aspects of water conservation in our 2016-2021 Strategic Development Plan.
We source our water from the municipal Lowell Regional Water Utility (LRWU), and our wastewater flows to the Lowell City Wastewater Utility’s (LRWWU) Duck Islands Waste Water Treatment Plant. These utilities treat the water before it either comes out of our faucets or reenters the Merrimack.
UMass Lowell is also working to reduce impervious surfaces on campus, so that water does not swiftly flow into the rivers as runoff but rather percolates slowly through the ground. Such initiatives lessen erosion and pollution.
Similar initiatives (such as stormwater drainage systems and green roofs) are listed in the 2016-2021 Strategic Development Plan, which the University updates every five years in accordance with MEPA.