Federal Water Laws

The United States Congress passed two very important laws that have shaped water treatment and distribution throughout the country.

The focal point of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was water that is or may be used for drinking, regardless of whether it is from above ground or underground sources.  It authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish water safety, purity, and health related standards, and required all owners and operators of public water systems to comply with these standards. Today, state governments assume these responsibilities by enforcing the same standards established by the SDWA.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1977 was an amendment to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972.  This law established the basic structure for regulating the discharge of pollutants into United States waters. The law gave the EPA authority to set effluent, or discharge, standards on an industry basis and to continue water quality requirements and standards for all contaminants in surface waters.  The law also makes it unlawful for any person or organization to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters without a permit obtained under the CWA.