Clean Water Act

The Federal Water pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 a.k.a. the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, and amended in 1977, due to the increasing public awareness and concern for controlling water pollution. The Act established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. It gave EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.

The Clean Water Act also contained requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The Act made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutants from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions.

It also 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.

    Clean Water Act has Five Main Elements:
  • A system of minimum national effluent standards for each industry.
  • Water quality standards.
  • A discharge permit program where these standards are translated into enforceable limitations.
  • Provisions for special problems such as toxic chemicals and oil spills.
  • A construction loan program for publicly owned treatment works (POTW's)

Facts About Pennsylvania's Streams

  • Forested buffers filter pollutants 15 times more efficiently than grassy areas.
  • Over 1/3 of streams and rivers have converted or degraded streamside.
  • 84% of assessed streams in PA support aquatic life, but 16% of assessed streams in PA are damaged.
  • The Fish and Boat Commission classifies 29 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic insects as endangered.
  • Urban runoff and storm sewers damage 1187 miles (14%) of assessed streams.
  • Residential runoff damages 311 miles (4%) of assessed streams in PA.
  • Reference:
    Three Rivers Habitat Partnership "Streamside Buffers For Your Backyard"



Department of Planning and Community Development

P. 412-831-9000
(Ext. 5010)
F. 412-854-0773

1820 McLaughlin Run Road  Upper St. Clair, PA 15241

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