Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Science Matters

Science Matters Header

About EPA Water


Babies in a bath tub

When you get dirty, you use water to clean up, right? But what about the water: Who cleans your bath water after it swirls and gurgles down the drain? (Bye-bye dirt!) And how do people know what to do to make water safe and clean before it flows from our drains or driveways and into nearby rivers, lakes, or the ocean?

If you've ever been curious about any of that, then you think like a water scientist or engineer.

Those are the same kinds of questions that researchers working at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been working to answer ever since the Clean Water Act—the county's primary water protection law—was passed in 1972.

What EPA researchers learn helps the Agency and others know how much pollution needs to be kept out of rivers, streams, and other waterways to keep them clean and healthy. They also study drinking and waste water systems to help keep water supplies and the environment clean.

Going for the Green

One example of EPA water research is the work they do exploring new ways to reduce runoff. Runoff is the rainwater and melting snow and ice that cascades down our driveways, streets, roofs, and other surfaces that don't absorb water.

The problem is that as runoff flows, it picks up substances like spilled motor oil, excess lawn fertilizer, road salt, and improperly stored or discarded pesticides and other harmful chemicals. When that dirty runoff flows together into a nearby river, lake, or estuary it can be bad news.

During big storms or when lots of snow and ice melt, so much water can flow into the local sewer system that the pipes that lead toward a water treatment facility can't handle it all. When that happens, a mix of runoff and sewage can end up spilling over into local waterways.

To help solve this problem, EPA researchers are working on ways to reduce runoff through what is known as green infrastructure.

The researchers are measuring how adding green solutions to the landscape can help reduce runoff and the amount of polluted water entering nearby streams and local sewer systems. They are working on things like rain gardens, rain barrels, and permeable pavement (parking lots and sidewalks that have air pockets in the them like a sponge to let water soak in).

Word Search

Throughout this article, there are a number of words colored in blue. Each of those words is hidden in the word search below. See if you can find them all!

Water Kids Words Search

Learn More!

Check out the EPA Water Kids' web site

Area Navigation

Jump to main content.