The Clean Water Act of 1972 is recognized
as the beginning of modern efforts to control pollution of the nation’s waterways. Officially called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, the CWA was amended in 1977, and after it expired in 1982, the Water Quality Act of 1987 was passed to continue the basic structure of the Clean Water Act. These acts and amendments are generally referred
to as the Clean Water Act.
The purpose of the CWA is to protect the quality of the nation’s rivers and lakes from pollution
by giving the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate both point source and non-point source pollution. The major elements of the Clean Water Act, including
later amendments, are as follows: