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Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The Clean Water Act was originally called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, which was the first major U.S. law to address water pollution. Growing concerns for controlling water pollution led to amendments of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1972. After more amendments in 1977, the act became commonly known as the Clean Water Act (CWA). The amendments in 1977 included: establishing the basic structure for regulating pollutants discharged into the waters of the United States, gave EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry, maintained existing requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters, made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters unless a permit was obtained under its provisions funded the construction of sewage treatment plants under the construction grants program, and recognized the need for planning to address the critical problems posed by nonpoint source pollution. Under the CWA, EPA implemented pollution control programs, such as for storm water, to set water quality standards.