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The following list of regulations to consider when developing a watershed-scale management plan is intended as an overview of major legislation pertinent to water management. This list is not considered to be an all-inclusive list of applicable legislation. Be aware that local ordinances may be more environmentally protective than the federal or state regulations listed here.


Major Federal LAWS

The Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the cornerstone of surface water quality protection in the United States. The statute uses both regulatory and non-regulatory tools to reduce direct pollutant discharge into waterways. It also helps finance municipal wastewater treatment facilities and manages polluted runoff. The Clean Water Act works to achieve the broader goal of restoring and maintaining the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of our surface waters so that they can support "the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and recreation in and on the water." 

Rules and regulations implemented under the Clean Water Act can be found here

The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000 is an amendment of the Clean Water Act that addresses pathogens and pathogen indicators in coastal recreational waters. 

The Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments

The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program (Section 6217 of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990) addresses nonpoint pollution problems in coastal waters. Section 6217 requires states and territories with approved Coastal Zone Management Programs to develop Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Programs.

The Coastal Zone Management Act

The Coastal Zone Management Act, administered by NOAA, provides for the management of the nation’s coastal resources, including the Great Lakes. The goal is to “preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance the resources of the nation’s coastal zone.”

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment.

The Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species Act provides a program for the conservation of threatened plants and animals and the habitats in which they are found. 

The Safe Drinking Water Act

The Safe Drinking Water Act was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation's public drinking water supply. The law was amended in 1986 and 1996 and requires many actions to protect drinking water and its sources: rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells serving more than 25 people.

The Bioterrorism Act

Title IV of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (also known as the Bioterrorism Act) addresses drinking water security and safety. 

In addition to the Bioterrorism Act, four Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs) are of particular relevance to water security issues. These are HSPDs 7, 8, 9, and 10.  

Executive Orders

Executive Order 13547 - Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes establishes a comprehensive, national policy for the stewardship of the ocean, coastal waters, and the Great Lakes. 

Executive Order 13514 - Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance requires federal agencies to reduce their water consumption and to identify, promote, and implement water reuse strategies consistent with state law that reduces potable water consumption. 

 

Other Federal Statutes

Endangered Species Act

Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899

The National Environmental Policy Act

Water Quality Standards Policy

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

The Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act

Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention (16 USC 1001)

Refuse Act of 1899, navigable waters (33 USC 407)

North American Wetlands Conservation Act


Wild and Scenic Rivers Act

Non-indigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act of 1990

The Pollution Prevention Act

The Toxic Substances Control Act


The Soil Conservation Act

The Clean Air Act

Food Security Act of 1985