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What is the Clean Water Act (and why does it matter?)

If you read our blog post on A Brief History of Wastewater Treatment, than you’re aware of the fact that for a long time in US history, waste water was not treated.  The thought at the time was “the environment can handle our waste” and pollution became a growing concern. In the early 1970’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to life and the Clean Water Act (originally known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of ) was set into legislation.

The Clean Water Act is the documentation that regulates water treatment in the United States. The act sets the rules and regulations that businesses follow for dumping their wastewater back into the environment. The goal of the act is to make sure that our waterways are safe for human enjoyment, for things such as swimming or fishing. Pollution control is the most important role of the Clean Water Act. Anything that changes the environment – even things such as temperature or even natural things like food wastes- is legally “pollution”. By setting these regulations in place, the governing agencies aim to make communities a better place for living and working.

Why is the Act Important to my Business?

The Clean Water Act is important to business owners because of the standards that it sets. It sets federal water quality standards, helps state and local governments plan their water strategies, and handles enforcement. Effluent (discharge) limits keep business owners in check and ensures that the surface waters of the community stay clean. What happens if a business does not meet regulation? The business will have to pay a fine and fix the issues or the EPA will shut it down.

Wastewater Operator and The Act

It is because of the Clean Water Act that wastewater operators exist. Without the regulations, there wouldn’t be anybody to test for them! It is the responsibility of a wastewater operator to make sure that the business it works for stays in compliance with the federal (and local) laws.

Wastewater Operators play an important role in making sure their companies are following the law. If you are currently working as an operator, then you are probably aware of the Clean Water Act. If you are a student studying to become an operator, then learning about the act will be very useful in studying for the state exam. You can prepare for the exam by taking our wastewater operator training course.