Georgia Water/Laws/Clean Water Act

U.S. Clean Water Act (1966, 1972, 1987)

General Description


The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States.



The CWA gives EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.

The CWA requires that water quality standards be set for all contaminants in surface waters.

The CWA makes it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions.

The "Hole" in the CWA


While the CWA regulates pollutant discharges originating from point sources, non-point sources are not regulable under the CWA. Thus, certain types of water pollution- water runoff from roads and airports, pesticides, etc.- are not regulable despite having an adverse effect on water quality. However, those entities that are subject to CWA regulations can typically be relied upon to exert pressure on those not subject to the regulations, due to the formers ability to discharge being based upon the total pollution in the water body (regardless of the source).