LEWISTON — One of the landmark environmental laws developed by the late U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie, the Clean Water Act turns 40 in mid-October.

Bates College, from which Muskie graduated in 1936, will present a panel discussion exploring the history and future of the Clean Water Act at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1, in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives, 70 Campus Ave.

The event is open to the public at no cost. An installment in the Harward Center for Community Partnerships’ Civic Forum series, the event is jointly sponsored with the history department, the environmental studies program and the Muskie Archives. For more information, call 786-6202.

The panelists are: Stephen Hinchman, an attorney who works with the Androscoggin River Alliance, an organization dedicated to the health of not only the river, but the local economy and local communities; Pete Didisheim, advocacy director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, one of Maine’s best-known environmental advocacy organizations; Emily Figdor, director of Environment Maine, a research, education and advocacy organization; and John Storer, engineer for the city of Auburn’s water and sewerage districts and the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission.

A native of Rumford, Muskie grew up well aware of the sorry condition of the Androscoggin River, rendered one of the nation’s dirtiest waterways by decades of municipal and industrial pollution. An early champion of environmental protection, Muskie spearheaded the Clean Air Act of 1970 and later the Clean Water Act.

Coinciding with growing public awareness of environmental issues and the establishment of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, these laws were instrumental both in reducing pollution of the nation’s air and waters and establishing the pro-environmental mindset that continues to shape U.S. society and policymaking today. Today, while not pristine, the Androscoggin is dramatically healthier and is increasingly the focus of recreational and economic development initiatives.

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