Free Essay About The Clean Water Act

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Water, Environment, Law, United States, Policy, Cleanliness, Protection, Security

Pages: 2

Words: 550

Published: 2021/02/11


The establishment of environmental laws and policies are important in addressing the environmental issues that covers the local to global settings. In the United States, several environmental policies and acts have been approved by the government and are being applied in order to mitigate environmental problems (My Unique Student Experience [MUSE], n.d.). One of the environmental agencies that promote protection of environment as well as human health is the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The provisions of the established policies are carried out by the authorized environmental agencies through detailed regulations and enforcement. One of the major environmental laws in the United States is the Clean Water Act wherein the water pollutants are being monitored by the EPA by checking if the actual values of the pollutants are within the standards (US Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], 2014).

The Clean Water Act (CWA) and its Provisions

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, first enacted in 1948, was the first major environmental US law that covers water pollutions issues. It served as the basis of the Clean Water Act (CWA) which was amended in 1972. Basically, the CWA aims to establish the policy for regulation of the water pollutant discharges in the United States (US EPA, 2014). It also sets the ideal quality standards for the surface waters. The EPA implements the provisions of the CWA by enforcing control programs against pollution by setting wastewater standards based on different industries and for the surface water contaminants as well.
The major provisions of the CWA include the following: (a) prevention of oil spill, (b) required permits for wetlands or stream filling, (c) required permit for discharge of water pollutants, (d) meeting the set water quality standards, (e) development of plan for polluted water restoration, (f) establishing the role of the state in approval of the federal permits, and (g) enforcement permission for the federal government and the localities (US EPA, 2011 April 27). The CWA covers only the water that is within the bounds of the US territory. Moreover, discharging of the pollutants from a point source into waters without permit is unlawful.

Economic and Environmental Impact of CWA

Water is considered as one of the raw materials in many industrial processes. Due to this, as one of the raw materials, it should maintain its ability in absorbing or dealing with the wastes. If this ability will be hindered, the economy will tend to degrade. Although water is considered renewable, the rate of water usage or consumptions cannot cope up easily with the renewal cycle.
In order to help address issues of wasting water, environmental policies such as the CWA were established. However, it is to be expected that with the implementation of the programs under the CWA, there should be investments to be done. Thus, to check the economic impact of the programs under the CWA, cost-benefit analysis is conducted. The analysis conducted by the EPA in 2011 stated that there are potential indirect benefits upon implementation of CWA programs. One of these benefits is the services that arise from the implemented or proposed programs. Revenues may come in once the goods and services are proven to be effective. Also, these revenues will help in maintenance of the programs under the CWA. Another economic impact is by avoiding of incurring cost due to actions that have not been done to prevent the problem (US EPA, 2011).
The CWA has definitely provided an environmental solution to water pollution problems. With the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program under the CWA, regulation of pollutant discharges in different industries including municipal wastewater has been possible. Stormwater pollution and animal waste discharge can also be prevented by enforcing the CWA by requiring installation of sewer systems. The CWA also prevents spillage of hazardous materials or chemicals and oil in specific quantities. This threat can result to adverse effects in the human health as well as the environmental setting. One of the worst environmental problems covered by the CWA is the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill that occurred in April 20, 2010. The drilling rig located in the Gulf of Mexico exploded which resulted to the largest oil spill in water pollution history. As an answer to this challenge, the EPA conducted cleanup programs and strict monitoring in order to slowly revert back the environmental status in that specific area (US EPA, 2015 January 15).

Global Warming: A Threat or Not?

Emission of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases nowadays has increased immensely as compared to the era before the Industrial Revolution. The emission of these gases has contributed to the continuous warming of the earth’s atmosphere which leads to conclusions of the occurrence of global warming. The changes in the environment, such as melting of ice caps, migration of animals, and changes in weather patterns, which are believe to brought about by global warming must be considered as a proof that it is indeed a threat.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Laws

Instead of adopting additional policies or laws to restrict emission of greenhouse gases, the US must focus more on strengthening the enforcement of the existing environmental policies on gas emissions such as the Montreal Protocol (from 1987) , the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (from 1994), and the Kyoto Protocol (from 1997) (MUSE, n.d.). The Montreal protocol should continuously regulate the production and usage of harmful air pollutants such as CFCs which affect the ozone layer. Moreover, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change must keep on spreading information regarding the adverse effects of increase levels of greenhouse gases. Lastly, the Kyoto Protocol must keep on regulating the amount of greenhouse gas emissions by assuring compliance of the countries included in the agreement.


My Unique Student Experience [MUSE]. (n.d.). “Environmental solutions, laws, and agencies.” Retrieved from
My Unique Student Experience [MUSE]. (n.d.). “The environment, the economy and policy.” Retrieved from
United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2014, November 12). “History of the Clean Water Act.” Retrieved from
United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2011, April 27). “Potential Indirect Economic Impacts and Benefits associated with Guidance Clarifying the Scope of Clean Water Act Jurisdiction.”
United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2015, March 13). “Summary of the Clean Water Act.” Retrieved from
United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]. (2015, January 15). “Water Enforcement.” Retrieved from

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