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What is the Clean Water Act?

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is legislation for two things.

  1. It establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States.
  2. It regulates quality standards for surface waters.

History: 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.

Outcomes: Under the CWA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. EPA has also developed national water quality criteria recommendations for pollutants in surface waters.

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