The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948, and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. This Act was expanded, restructured and reorganized in 1972 with the “Clean Water Act” we have today. The CWA as we know it regulates the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the United States, and regulates the quality standards for surface waters.
The statute employs a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory tools to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoff. These tools are employed to achieve the broader goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of our nation’s waters so that they can support the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water.
The CWA makes it unlawful to intentionally or negligently discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit is obtained. “Point Sources” are discrete conveyances, such as pipes, or man-made ditches. While industrial facilities and municipalities must obtain permits for discharge, individual homes need not obtain a permit, whether they are connected to a municipal system or a septic system.
For more information the CWA, compliance and monitoring, visit the EPA’s Website.