The Clean Water Act turns 41


Summary of the Clean Water Act

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33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq. (1972)

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. “Clean Water Act” became the Act’s common name with amendments in 1972.

Under the CWA, EPA has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. We have also set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.

The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained. EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls discharges. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters.

Compliance and Enforcement

History of this Act

More Information

The Office of Water (OW) ensures drinking water is safe, and restores and maintains oceans, watersheds, and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, support economic and recreational activities, and provide healthy habitat for fish, plants, and wildlife.

  • The EPA Watershed Academy provides training courses on statutes, watershed protection, and other key Clean Water Act resources.

Ford could turn Native American lands into toxic waste dump


For 25 years, Ford Motor Company dumped toxic waste from a nearby factory into New Jersey’s Ringwood State Park.

Members of the Ramapough tribe, who’ve lived on the land for generations, routinely fell ill from various poisons. Their children suffered nosebleeds any time they played outside.

Cancer rates in the area are elevated, and the Bergen Record found arsenic and lead one hundred times above safe levels in the nearby Wanaque Watershed, which supplies water to millions.

But instead of working to clean up the area, the Environmental Protection Agency is actually considering giving the land back to Ford to use it as a toxic waste dump.

There’s not much time left to protect the park — the EPA is announcing its plan in less than two weeks.

Edison Wetlands Association started a petition on Change.org asking the EPA to keep the park public and make Ford clean up the park for the public’s use. Click here to add your name to Edison Wetlands’ petition to demand the EPA protect Ringwood State Park from Ford’s continued pollution.   http://www.change.org/petitions/save-ringwood-state-park-dont-let-ford-motor-company-use-it-as-a-toxic-landfill

Right now, Ford is secretly lobbying both state and federal officials to gain the right to resume toxic dumping in the park. But a national outcry can outdo them.

Sign Edison Wetlands’ petition to the stop Ford from polluting before the EPA’s deadline in less than two weeks:

http://www.change.org/petitions/save-ringwood-state-park-dont-let-ford-motor-company-use-it-as-a-toxic-landfill

Thanks for being a change-maker,

– Corinne and the Change.org team