IN RESPONSE TO increasing public concern for the environment and for the condition of the nation's waters, the U.S. Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, revising previous ineffective legislation. Amended once again in 1977, Congress refused to allow continued unregulated discharges of untreated wastewater from municipalities, industries, and business into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters of the United States. The law became more commonly known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), and provided a plan to restore and maintain clean and healthy waters.

The CWA can be broken down into five main elements: minimum standards for waste discharges for each industry, standards for water quality, a permit program with enforceable discharge limits, regulations for specific problems like toxic chemicals and oil ...

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