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The Clean Water Act


Projects and Updates

August 2011
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If there is anything that you should know about clean water the first should be where the regulations come from.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States. It employs a variety of regulatory and nonregulatory tools designed to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities, protect wetlands, and manage polluted runoff. Congress designed the 1972 act “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” The act also called for zero discharges of pollutants into navigable waters by 1985 and “fishable and swimmable” waters by mid-1983. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the states are primarily and jointly responsible for implementing the act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also plays a role in Clean Water Act implementation, because it shares responsibility with the EPA in the act’s Section 404 wetlands permitting program.

The above excerpt from a 2008 report by the National Research Council entitled “Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities,”

Water is a cornerstone for life we need it to survive; taking part in protecting our waterways is a global responsibility.

What part do you play?

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