In 1948, Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to address concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands, and contaminated runoff. The CWA was revised in 1972 and set a new national goal "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." As a federal-state partnership, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the authority while states, territories and authorized tribes administer and enforce CWA programs, and citizens are given a strong role in protecting and restoring waters.
The CWA specifies that all discharges into the nation's waters are unlawful unless authorized by a permit and sets baseline, across-the-board technology- based controls for municipalities and industry.
Under the CWA, there are several water programs and regulatory tools to assist in protecting and restoring the nation's waters. The core programs, outlined here, can be also be found by clicking here: EPA - Clean Water Act 101
- Identifying Polluted Waters and Developing Plans to Restore Them
- Permitting Discharges of Pollutants from Point Sources
- Addressing diffuse, nonpoint sources of pollution
- Protecting Wetlands
- Protecting Coastal Waters through the National Estuary Program
- Protecting large Aquatic Ecosystems