By Haley Daily // 2020-08-04
As urbanization and development activities continue the number of impervious surfaces increases, leading to a rise in volume and rate of stormwater runoff. With higher amounts of runoff, pollutants are more likely to contaminate water if not properly treated. In the early 1970s, two-thirds of the nation’s lakes, rivers, and coastal waters were unsafe for fishing or swimming, and untreated sewage was dumped into open water (Reilly, 2011). Due to this contamination the 1948 Federal Water Pollution Control Act was amended during the 1970s and forever became known as the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The Act aims to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters" as described in CWA section 101(a). Under Section 402 of the CWA the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit was created and regulates how discharges are managed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ultimate authority over the CWA and the sections that fall under it. Most states have been given authority by the EPA to create their own NPDES program. Individual states who have the power to establish their own permit must enforce regulations that are as or more stringent than the EPA’s NPDES permit.
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System is only one component of the Clean Water Act. The Act has multiple sections and the EPA have a variety of enforcement capabilities which can lead to severe fines or imprisonment. Depending on the type of development additional permits to the NPDES can be required. Knowing the details of a development and the city, state, and federal regulations are crucial in maintaining a compliant site. With all the complexities that come with local and federal codes it’s critical to have the right team in place to handle all the unexpected challenges that builders experience over a life of a project.
Clean Water Act (CWA) and Federal Facilities. (2018, January 29). Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/clean-water-act-cwa-and-federal-facilities.
Reilly, W. K. (2011, November 29). Keep the Clean Water Act Strong. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/29/opinion/keep-the-clean-water-act-strong.html.