History of Clean Water Act
The first major act to address the water pollution issue in U.S. was The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948. The growing need for generating public awareness led to an amendment in 1972. After an amendment, the law came to be called the Clean Water Act (CWA). The amendments of 1972:
It brought about a basic structure that regulated the pollutant discharge into the waters.
Authorizing the EPA to set up pollution control plants like setting the wastewater to the industry’s standards.
The quality standards for water were maintained by checking all the contaminants like lead, zinc, etc., in the surface waters.
No person could release any pollutant into open water from a point source. It was unlawful to do so. Special permits need to be obtained to do so.
New sewage treatment plants were set up. They were funded through the construction grant program.
Worked towards identifying the no-point sources of pollution and removing those.
The CWA provisions were modified through numerous amendments. The 1981 revisions smoothed the grants process of Municipal Corporation. It enhanced the capacities of those treatment plants that had been built under the program. Changes that were made in 1987 removed the construction grants program. The State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund has taken its place. Today it is more regularly referred to as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. In addition, an EPA-state partnership was built, which addressed the needs and importance of water quality.
Clean Water Act
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is made up of two parts. The first part is the Title II provisions, and the second is the Title VI provisions. For municipal sewage treatment plant construction, these are the parts that provide the federal financial assistance. The other is a regulatory requirement, which is found throughout the act. It is concerned with municipal and industrial sources of pollution.
To protect the water quality, the CWA refers to water standards and the technology-based effluent. These technology-based effluent limitations are fixed numerical limitations. They were formed by the EPA and are placed on specific pollutants from specific sources. States or the EPA have these statistical effluent limits in discharge permits. They apply to both sources – industrial and municipal. The standards of water quality are the standards for the complete quality of water. The standards comprise the assigned beneficial use or uses of a water body. They also have a numerical or narrative statement. These standards point out the maximum concentrations of numerous pollutants which would not interfere with the assigned use.
The act has made it necessary for each state to set up the water quality standards for all the water bodies in the state. These standards act as a backup to technology-based requirements established federally. It is because technology points out at what place increased pollutant controls are needed to accomplish all the act’s goals. These technology-based effluent limitations have been achieved in numerous water bodies. However, the standards of water quality have not been met. In such situations, dischargers may be needed to complete the additional pollution control requirements. The act requires a TMDL of pollutants to be set up for these waters by each state. It is set at a level that makes sure that water quality standards that are applicable can be achieved and maintained. A TMDL is both a planning process and a quantitative assessment. It plans for attaining the standards of water quality set. It performs a quantitative analysis of pollution sources and issues, as well as the reductions in pollutants levels required to restore and protect a river, lake, or stream. According to the latest state reports, the EPA estimated that more than 40,000 of the waters are impaired. As a result, the preparation of TMDLs is needed.
Though urges for great technological demands, this act also understands that there is a requirement for broad research on water quality problems. The same has been given in the statute. It also emphasizes the in-place toxic pollutants in navigable waterways and harbors. The water pollution, which is the result of mine drainage. It also sanctions providing support to train those people who maintain and operate the wastewater treatment facilities.
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