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Editor’s Note: Welcome to part 1 in our Stormwater 101 Series about controlling runoff pollution. This article offers a sneak peek at our newest series — the rest is currently under construction but coming soon!
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, enacted in 1948, was the first national legislation that addressed water pollution. However, decades passed before an executive order created the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, in 1970) and the Congress amended the earlier legislation to create what is known as the Clean Water Act (CWA, in 1972).
The CWA governs the conditions of each body of water in the United States and forbids their purposeful or negligent pollution. The CWA charges the EPA with creating and enforcing pollution control programs and regulations.
Some of the regulations that the EPA has enacted in support of the CWA are:
Although there is still work to be done, the CWA effectively established a framework for states to identify their impaired waters and create plans to prevent further pollution. To help accomplish this goal, the EPA created a permitting program for facilities that discharge any type of pollutant into waters of the United States. The stormwater permitting program – known as the NPDES permitting program – strictly limits volume of pollutants and requires facilities to monitor discharges and have plans to prevent larger discharges.
Only waters of the United State are subject to EPA regulation. These include:
Waters of the United States do not include:
Uses of water vary, of course, and water quality treatments vary accordingly. Resources for drinking are carefully guarded, while water quality requirements are slightly relaxed for waters used for fishing or swimming. The EPA requires each state to designate the uses for each of its waterbodies. States must also create a management strategy to improve contaminated waters and prevent further pollution.
The EPA has authorized most states and territories of the U.S. to administer, monitor and enforce CWA programs, including industrial and municipal wastewater systems, NPDES permitting, pesticide permitting, pretreatment programs and animal feeding operations. Authorized states must ensure that their programs meet federal regulations, but they may also enact additional requirements that they deem necessary to maintain or improve the various waters in their state. The EPA itself enforces these programs in states not yet authorized.
Facilities with the potential to pollute stormwater or other waters of the United States need to develop plans and procedures to prevent discharges. This series will provide information about stormwater pollutants, permitting, planning, sampling, monitoring, inspections and reporting to help planners in all of these areas.
Check back soon for more parts of the Stormwater 101 series! In the meantime, feel free to contact our Service Team (1-855-493-HOGS) for answers to your runoff pollution and stormwater questions.
Start shopping! Check out some of our best-selling solutions to help meet the EPA’s SWPPP requirements.