Publication Center


2000 Annual Report

January 11, 2001
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It was just over 100 years ago that water quality in this region was at a low point due to
industrial pollution and raw sewage. The most productive oyster and clam beds in the world were
condemned, finfish stocks were depleted and tasted like “oil”, health agencies were inundated with
patients suffering from dozens of different types of waterborne diseases from using recreational
waters, and the air was filled with coal dust. This was a time when interstate conflicts arose regarding
the sanitary conditions of the waters surrounding and shared by the States of New York, New Jersey
and Connecticut.

In the 1920s, the Tri-State Treaty Commission recommended the establishment of a body to
control and abate water pollution. Following their recommendation, the Tri-State Compact
establishing the Interstate Sanitation District and the Interstate Sanitation Commission was enacted
in 1936, with the Consent of Congress. The ISC initially consisted of the States of New York and
New Jersey; the State of Connecticut joined the Commission in 1941. As its structure suggests, the
Commission has an overall responsibility of protecting the environment by viewing the District from
a regional, impartial and unbiased perspective. Whereas each state deals with issues within its own
political borders, the Commission can and does cross state lines. The Commission strives to
harmonize water quality standards, regulations and requirements throughout its District. The ISC’s
work over the last 64 years has resulted in the similarity and compatibility that exists throughout the

These standards and regulations have been periodically revised in order to reflect the most
recent scientific and technologic information that deals with water quality, living marine resources
and best intended uses of the waters. Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, the Commission
issued Enforcement Orders for wastewater treatment plant construction that were to be the
foundation for many municipalities’ current infrastructure.

With positive changes in the ecosystem, it makes sense to make appropriate changes in the
day-to-day focus of water pollution control. Over the years, many of the area’s environmental and
health departments changed their names to better reflect their missions. Due to its interstate nature
and jurisdiction, to change the name of the Commission takes the adoption of appropriate legislation
in the three member states, followed by the Consent of Congress. The last step in this process, the
Consent of Congress, took place in 2000 and, on October 27, 20100, the President of the United
States signed the Bill containing the language that changes the name of this agency from the Interstate
Sanitation Commission to the Interstate Environmental Commission (IEC). The new name —
Interstate Environmental Commission — brings the Commission into the 21st Century and more
accurately reflects the Commission’s mandates, mission and responsibilities that embrace a broad
range of programs and activities that include air pollution, resource recovery facilities and toxics.
However, the IEC’s continuing emphasis is on water quality — an area in which the Commission is
a regulatory and enforcement agency.