Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Water, Environment, Law, Government, Cleanliness, Agency, Pollution, Policy

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2021/03/02

Overview of the Clean Water Act

Clean water act was formulated in the United States federal laws in the year 1972 with a core objective to mitigate water pollution and safeguard water catchment areas as wells other sources (Federal Water Pollution Control Act 3). Water is an important element in the sustaining human, animals and plants, and its scarcity nature demands stringent regulations to deter the society from over-exploitation. The public good are often susceptible to physical factors from the human act and chemical effluents emanating from the industrial sector. The reaction of biological elements is another threat to water availability particularly the indeterminable change in the climatic conditions that expose the social and economic life of the society to a great risk in the ensuing period.
Upon enactment and subsequent implementation, the Act embraced the revolution of technology concepts to create standardized rules and schedules while considering flexibility of the rules due to unpredictable event as well as maintaining a long-term environmental sustainability for current and future generation. In a bid to secure the provisions from bureaucratic delays by self-interested parties, the Senate and the Congress formulated a provision that empowered the individuals and other interested parties to influence the accredited authority in accelerating the implementation of the policies as well as whistle-blowing on unorthodox acts by the greedy parties.
The United States Environment Agency owned up the responsibility for developing the technology program that monitored pollution point sources to ensure strict observation of the observations without bias. The primary point sources covered by the Act include military governments, agricultural sector and the vast industrial sector that accounts for the highest percentage of pollution discharge to the American waters. To enhance quick implementation, the Act provided for the establishment of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination system whose objective was to offer authorization permits to any point source that needed to discharge effluents into the surface waters.
The point sources such as industries had to undergo through scrutiny under the guidelines of the water quality standards to ascertain the extent of harm the effluents could cause to the environment. The development of the system rose in the wake of ineffective and biased standards formulated and implemented by accredited state agencies whose success was impeded by the provision of stringent permits. As a result, the federal government resolved to amend the Act and introduce a centralized system to oversee the process and issue authorization permits to pertinent parties.
Under the designated policies, it is ethically imperative to identify the essential usage of water by particular bodies based on chemical, biological and physical assessment characteristics. The core essence of the procedure was to evaluate the legality of designated organizations in the use of water and preservation of the commodity from extinction. Notably, the standards required periodic revisions to the policies to accommodate ensuing physical or environmentally influenced changes as a cautionary approach to future sustainability.
The water standards are subject to continuous revision under a stipulated clean water Act established the Shore Protection Act in 1992 to protect offshore Sand bars and sand dunes that are susceptible to pollution by natural occurrences, as well as human activities. As a cautionary approach, the act prohibits the transfer of sand from the offshore and inshore since the action renders the coastal areas to environmental risks. Further, the Act provisions expand regulatory guidelines on rock revetments, beach renourishment, jetties and sand crossovers as well as boat basins and boat ramps.

Problem and solution

Despite the stringent provision and enforcement of the water quality standards under the Clean Water Act, it would be disheartening to claim that water pollution continue to escalate by the day exposing the human, animal and plant life to ecological degradation. The Act provides for criminally enforced measures to the culprits; nevertheless the human beings continue to release harmful effluents to the surface water oblivious of the environment and health risk. The bureaucratic system of governance and collusion with industrial managers are the major inhibiting factors to the success of the Clean water Act. The community as well is yet to comprehend the importance of self-regulatory measures towards water conservation and the future implications for the ecological system. While the federal government has embarked enforcement action, the approach portrays itself as a necessary but an insufficient condition towards enhancing the long-term sustainability of conserving water catchment areas and surface water.
The Clean water Act states that individuals and organizations would have to apply a National Pollutant, and Discharge Element System (NPDES) permit to oversee the release of environmentally acceptable effluents. For instance, the parties need to renew the permits after every five years upon review and subsequent amendment pertaining to the designated sector (Gaba 418). Unfortunately, most parties especially in the industrial sector collude with the enforcement agencies to bypass the renew policy thus exposing the environment to pollution and ecologic degradation. Hence, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) remains oblivious of the party’s unscrupulous deals at the expense of the society sustainability. Additionally, the Clean Water Act enforcement faces the challenge of distinguishing the provision criteria for general and individual permits. The general permits require the applicants to obtain a Notice of Intent (NOI) that overlooks the provision of public participation to create awareness for a particular point of source. Most point of sources prefers general permit issuance procedure that excludes the expression of the community thus creating an information asymmetry loophole between the environment agency and the organizations.

Inadequate public awareness and participation

The Environment Protection Agency has continuously undermined the impact of the public in enacting universal policies to conserve water pollution. Further, the public remains unaware of their oversight role in strengthening the agency’s policies and providing ground information on the performance of firms and individuals (Rechtschaffen 795). The agency should establish community-based organizations that would act as ground officers and bridge the information asymmetry gap with the permit holders that have derailed the agency from realizing the set objectives. Aggressive campaigns and educational forums would culminate in the active implementation of the Act and mitigating water resources.

Failure to renew the NPDES permits

Collusion between enforcement agencies and point of sources is a major impediment to the success of the Environment Protection Agencies (EPA). While the law demands a five-year period renewal of general and individual permits, most organizations have reported persistent failure to obtain new permits. Further, lack of stringent enforcement measures to punish the culprits aggravates the problem with rising cases of repeat offenders. Consequently, the enforcement agencies find difficult in implementing the process and accustoming with the point of source operation changes. For instance, an industrial company may opt to adjust the operation ingredients to a particular product. Unfortunately, the included ingredient could exceed the stipulated allowance of pollution in the company. The company would be operating under the old permit- a factor that curtails the agency from realizing full enforcement of the water Act.


The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in association with the federal state should exceed the penalty of $32500 for a single day violation as well as the one-year imprisonment imposed on the culprits (Gaba 419). Raising the penalty would cushion the individuals and the firms from evading the renewal policy.

Controversy between General and Individual Permits

While the general permits from the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDES) do not require the agency to seek public opinions about the company, most firms apply use the general permit channel to bypass public scrutiny that could result in denial of the permit. The Clean water Act has not entrenched distinguishing factors between the general and ordinary permits. For the general permits, the permitted applies through a Notification of Intent (NOI) upon which the Environment Protection Agency assess the viability of the party based on the Act provisions (Gaba 419).


Inadequate material and financial resources to enforce the program
The Environment Protection Agency claims that with the anticipated increase in point of source organizations and the unpredictable emergence of non-point sources impact, the available funds are unsustainable in the long-term (Rechtschaffen 788). There is the need for extensive field study by the authority to avoid over-reliance on the point of source documented information as well as embark on sensitization to educate citizens on their oversight role in mitigating water pollution.
For that reason, the Congress and the Senate should rescind the adamant positions; embrace the dynamic environment change by injecting additional monetary and material resources to the agency’s kitty.

Political hindrance to implementation of TMDL

The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is an assessment criterion that identifies foreign water bodies and the level of the pollutant according to the stipulated water standards (Boyd 7). The program, as recognized under article 303 of the Clean Water Act, is an advanced policy that accommodates the impact of non-point sources that had previously been overlooked by the conventional policies. However, the policy has received strong opposition from political forces especially with the proposal to create a trading platform between non-point and point source (Boyd 2). The opponent’s lawmakers argue that the approach would pave the way for pollutants and create incoherence of the law since there are no distinct criteria to differentiate between the varying degree of point and non-point sources.
Therefore, the federal government ought to intervene and formulate a unified team of experts from pertinent sectors to blend the TMDL into the current system and safeguard the sustainability of the Clean Water Act.

Clean water act regulations in Kuwait

Kuwait is one of the key countries in the Gulf council cooperation that boasts of an enormous capacity of ground water. The country applies the Coastal zone management water Act of 1972 whose common objective is to protect groundwater against pollution from point and non-point sources. The Act holds similar grounds with Clean Water Act with a critical emphasis on mitigating pollutants under stringent universal standards. Notably, the Kuwait government under the water agencies undertakes the desalination process to eliminate hot brine, chemicals other harmful elements that pollute the water and expose the society to ecological problems (UNEP 39). In summary, the Clean Water Act was enacted in recognition of international standards on environmental conservation and therefore, there is little distinction of the laws across the globe.

Works cited

"Water and development: Industry's contribution." United Nations Environment Program(UNEP) 27.1 (2014): 1-54. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Andreen, William L. "Water Quality Today-Has the Clean Water Act Been a Success?." Alabama Law Review 55 (2004): 537-593.
Boyd, J. The New Face of the Clean Water Act: A Critical Review of the EPA’s Proposed TMDL Rules. Resources for the Future, Washington. DC. Discussion Paper 00-12, March 2000. 35 pp. Available on the Internet at http://www. rff. org/CFDOCS/disc_papers/PDF_files/0012. pdf, 2000.
FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT [As Amended Through P.L. 107–303, November 27, 2002. United States of America: Federal government, 2002. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Gaba, Jeffrey M. "Generally illegal: NPDES general permits under the Clean Water Act." Harvard Environmental Law Review 31.409 (2007).
Rechtschaffen, Clifford. "Enforcing the Clean Water Act in the twenty-first century: Harnessing the power of the public spotlight." Ala. L. Rev. 55 (2003): 775.

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Clean Water Act Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/clean-water-act-essay-example/. Published Mar 02, 2021. Accessed June 27, 2022.

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