Water Quality
The Clean Water Act, which is also formerly known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, was passed by Congress in 1972. It was originally enacted in 1948, and has been revised several times since 1972 (Copeland, 2002). The primary objective of this act is to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters" (no author, 2002).
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 was originally passed to provide funding for research as well as for water pollution problems at the state and local level. During the 1950s and 1960s the law was amended several times to include federal enforcement and point source pollution provisions. The main feature of the 1965 amendment was the establishment of water quality standards. Genuine public interest in protecting the environment as well as public awareness of environmental issues was on the rise during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In 1972 there was a major overhaul of the Act. It would now require wastewater treatment; it would allow federal assistance for treatment plant construction; it defined enforcement roles, and clarified federal and state responsibilities. This amendment also established two important goals 1) "zero discharge of pollutants by 1985", and 2) water clean enough to be "both fishable and swimmable by mid-1983" (Copeland, 2002). Still today, not all of our waters are clean enough to be considered fishable and swimmable. However, each state is continuing to work on reaching these goals.
Before 1987, the main intention of the Clean Water Act was to target point source pollution problems. The amendments of 1987 added provisions that would also target non-point source pollution problems. Today there are specific water quality standards for all surface waters to include rivers, streams, and lakes. There are also effluent limitations for point source dischargers which are in the form of discharge permits. With these permits, some facilities practice full containment while others are allowed to discharge certain amounts of effluent into surface waters.
The funding for the Clean Water Act is appropriated by Congress. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for making sure the Act is carried out. The federal government ensures State compliance and sets national standards. However the federal government also maintains a partnership with each state, tribe, and territory. Each state, tribe, and territory is responsible for enforcing the Clean Water Act as well as carrying out the activities under this act. These activities include such things as establishing state specific water quality standards and issuing permits.
..... and the Clean Water Act
There are six major divisions of the current Clean Water Act:

I. Research & Related Programs - Sections 101-124 related to:
o Pilot projects
o Specific water body research (i.e. Great Lakes, Lake Pontchartrain Basin, etc.)
o Grants and scholarships for research and programs
II. Grants for Construction of Treatment Works - Sections 201-221 related to:
o Wastewater treatment plants
o Programs related to recycling and education
III. Standards and Enforcement - sections 301-320 related to:
o Point source pollution
o Non-point source pollution
o Associated standards
o Enforcement
IV. Permits and Licenses- sections 401-406 related to:
V. General Provisions - sections 501-518 related to:
VI. State Water Pollution Control Revolving Funds - sections 601-607 related to:
o Administrative duties
o Coordination
o Judicial and authoritative powers
o Permitting of facilities
o Dredging and disposal
o Coastal water quality
o Appropriations
o Fund agreements

Copeland, C. (2002). Clean Water Act: A summary of the law. Retrieved November 2,
2006 from http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/laws/majorlaw/cwa.pdf

_______ (2002). Federal Water Pollution Control Act (full text of act). Retrieved
November 2, 2006 from http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/pdf/ecwa.pdf

** This is one of the most recognized and most publicized
divisions of the Clean Water Act

Click here to Learn more about the State of South Dakota and its water quality standards.

Click here to find out more from the EPA about Water Quality Standards.
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