Advancing clean water in the Northeast since 1947.
NEIWPCC’s roots stretch back to the post-World War II era, when an industrial and population boom was in full swing and pollutants often flowed unchecked into lakes, rivers, and bays. Congress recognized the need for states to coordinate in the fight against this growing threat. In 1947 Congress passed legislation allowing for the formation of interstate water pollution control commissions.
Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts initially formed NEIWPCC (originally called the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission). Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York State joined shortly thereafter.
The seven member states endowed NEIWPCC with responsibilities, power, jurisdiction, and financial support. NEIWPCC originally focused on creating water quality standards and classifications for interstate waters in the region. This led to addressing wastewater treatment standards and operator training.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, federal and state legislative changes, coupled with the growing complexity of water quality issues, spurred NEIWPCC to take on a broader role in serving our member states’ interests. In 1969, NEIWPCC created the New England Regional Wastewater Institute (NERWI), a training school for wastewater treatment plant operators located in South Portland, Maine. After the passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972, NEIWPCC expanded activities to include public outreach and an even greater emphasis on environmental training and assistance.
Evolving Water Challenges
Due to a slew of environmental legislation in the 1970s, our waters began to appear cleaner. However, pollution remained an issue – it was just less visible than before. NEIWPCC’s work began to include issues surrounding acid rain, hazardous and toxic waste, groundwater protection and nonpoint source pollution in the 1980s and 90s. We also started providing administrative and staff support for several place-based programs, including the Long Island Sound Study, the Lake Champlain Basin Program, and two Hudson River based programs.
NEIWPCC is a vibrant organization comprised of more than 100 staff throughout New England and New York – a far cry from the original four staff members in the 1950s. We continue to evolve as we respond to ever-changing and complex water challenges that impact our vision of clean and sustainable water throughout the Northeast.
- Read our first Annual Report, from 1948.
- The 2002 Water Connection celebrates “The Year of Clean Water,” which marked the 30th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.
- Ordering the Waters tells how work begun in the 1940s continues to guide today’s efforts for clean water.
- 50 years of Training Excellence celebrates the first wastewater training courses and what followed.
- The fall 2022 issue of “Interstate Waters” focused on NEIWPCC’s 75th anniversary, featuring commissioner stories and reflections, a timeline of important NEIWPCC and national milestones and events, and much more.
- The 75th Anniversary video series showcases staff and commissioner perspectives about the significance of this anniversary and the role NEIWPCC has played – and continues to fulfill – in advancing clean water in the Northeast.
- Explore our Clean Water Timeline, created in 2022 in honor of NEIWPCC’s 75th anniversary.