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USA - Water Laws and Regulations
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States. (The Act does not deal directly with groundwater nor with water quantity issues.) The statute employs a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory tools to reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways, finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities, and manage polluted runoff. These tools are employed to achieve the broader goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters so that they can support "the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water."
EPA introduction to the Clean Water Act (CWA)
National Environmental Policy Act
42 U.S.C. §4321 et seq. (1969)
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was one of the first laws ever written that establishes the broad national framework for protecting our environment.
16 USC 460(L)(12)-460(L)(21), 79 Stat. 213, P.L. 89-72 (Fish and Wildlife Service)
33 USC 1251 (Cornell Legal Information Institute)
33 USC 1251 - 1376, P.L. 845, 62 Stat. 1155 (Fish and Wildlife Service)
33 USC 1301 et. seq. And 2701 et seq.; 104 Stat. 484, P.L. 101-380 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
33 USC 2401 (Cornell Legal Information Institute)
33 USC Chap. 26 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
33 USC 2701-2761 et seq. (Army Corps of Engineers)
42 USC 300j-2l (Cornell Legal Information Institute)
Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000
16 USC 1001 (Cornell Legal Information Institute)
16 USC 1271 (Cornell Legal Information Institute)
16 USC 1301 (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
16 USC 1301-1311; 84 Stat. 1468; P.L. 91-559 (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)
The Environmental Protection Agency sets standards that, when combined with protecting ground water and surface water, are critical to ensuring safe drinking water.
Requirements of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002
The Bioterrorism Act requires community drinking water systems serving populations of more than 3,300 persons to conduct assessments of their vulnerabilities to terrorist attack or other intentional acts and to defend against adversarial actions that might substantially disrupt the ability of a system to provide a safe and reliable supply of drinking water. The requirements of the Act assign EPA and water utilities responsibilities to enhance water sector security and to develop response measures for potential threats to the nation's water supplies and systems, as outlined below.
Polluted Runoff (Nonpoint Source Pollution)
Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.
Storm water runoff is generated when rain and snowmelt do not soak into the ground but flow over land or impervious surfaces, accumulating pollutants that could adversely affect water quality. This page provides technical and regulatory information about the NPDES storm water program.
Source Water Protection
The drinking water we receive from our local drinking water utilities or individual wells comes from ground water, streams, rivers, springs or lakes in a watershed. Although most water requires some treatment before use, protecting this source water is an important part of providing safe drinking water to the public.
EPA's Office of Wastewater Management (OWM) oversees a range of programs contributing to the well-being of the nation's waters and watersheds. Learn about OWM programs that promote compliance with the requirements of the Clean Water Act through effective and responsible water use, treatment, disposal, and management and by encouraging the protection and restoration of our watersheds.
SDWA Fact Sheets
Understanding the Safe Drinking Water Act
EPA 816-F-04-030 June 2004
Drinking Water Standards & Health Effects
EPA 816-F-04-037 June 2004
Drinking Water Treatment
EPA 816-F-04-034 June 2004
Drinking Water Monitoring, Compliance, and Enforcement
EPA 816-F-04-031 June 2004
Protecting Drinking Water Sources
EPA 816-F-04-032 June 2004
U.S. EPA's Program to Regulate the Placement of Waste Water and other Fluids Underground
EPA 816-F-04-040 June 2004
EPA Publishes Final Rule on Aquatic Pesticides - November 27, 2006
Sanitary Sewer Overflows and Peak Flows
Code of Federal Regulations - Title 40, Protection of Environment -
Chapter I - Subchapter D - Water Programs (Parts 100 - 149)