All You Need to Know About The Clean Water Act & Its Amendments
The Clean Water Act laid the the foundation for the body of environmental laws pertaining to the fight against polluted water. The Clean Water Act first came into effect in 1972. Since then it has been amended during the same year it came into effect and further provisions have been added to the original act in 1977 and 1987.
The Clean Water Act targets polluted water at the surface. The Clean Water does not protect sources of ground water or water quantity issues. The Clean Water Act sets the framework for regulatory and nonregulatory measures to fight the trend of polluted water that threatens human recreation activities in or on the water and aquatic life.
Waterways are of economic importance to the United States and its people. They are sources of food, commerce, and recreation. Polluted water threatens to destroy the ability of Americans to enjoy their waters; therefore, the Clean Water Act was passed to protect the integrity of America's water systems.
The Clean Water Act fight polluted water by adopting a strategy that targets point sources of water pollution. The Clean Water Act targets point sources like industry, municipal and state governments, and agriculture. The Clean Water Act targets industry by focusing on the chemical aspects of polluted water. Certain water pollutants can be traced back to industrial facilities.
The Clean Water Act is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. They are able to construct enforcement policies to coerce companies into complying with the standards and provisions of the Clean Water act to make them do their part in the battle against polluted water. The targeting of industry allows the maritime and heavy industry to live in harmony without threatening each other's industry.
Polluted water threatens maritime industries like fishing and shipping because chemical toxicity in water can kill fish and make America's waters less appealing to navigate. Municipalities used to dump much of their garbage in nearby waters.
The Clean Water Act regulated the behavior and helps to fund municipal water treatment plants. Water treatment plants help to clean polluted water, many local industries bring their waste water to water treatment facilities to municipal water treatment plants to be recycled. The Clean Water Act made this type of municipal program by helping cities buy the expensive infrastructure.
The EPA is also responsible for mitigating polluted water runoff from agriculture. Farmers use pesticides and herbicides; they spray the chemicals on the soil. When it rains, the chemicals get washed up and slowly make their way to navigable waters. This was the focus of the Clean Water Act Program for the early years.
The Clean Water Act was later amended in 1977 and 1987 to include provisions that regulate the quality of water. The 1987 Water Quality Act responded to the problem of industrial storm water that carried deadly pollutants into larger bodies of water. Urban runoff is also a problem because oil, antifreeze, and other pollutants on the road flow into storm drains and pollute rivers, streams, and oceans.
Over the years, the EPA's Clean Water Act program has become more holistic in its approach to the fight against polluted water. Taking the holistic approach is considered a good policy decision because the issue of water pollution is complex because bodies of water are interrelated as water travels through the water cycle.
NEXT: What Is Water Pollution