The Clean Water Act

TheClean Water Act

Alegal change can be described as the act of varying or ratherchanging a certain law to accommodate either something new or vital.Changes in legal matters causes both positive and negative changes todifferent categories of people. The impacts also tend to range frombehavioral aspects, business and economics among others. This paperwill look to analyze a legal change and the impact it has ondifferent sects of people. Additionally, it will provide anassessment of the positives and negatives of the process in line withhow the people it impacts on feel. Some of the legal changeexperienced over the years include, the clean air act, contract laws,consumer protection acts and affordable care acts among others. Asportrayed by the various acts, improvements in the different areasare evident i.e. employees are treated better, consumers are accordedadequate and quality goods and services and also the environment isconserved. Alterations in the legal matters are therefore quite vitalwith the capacities varying across the various sects. This paper willtry to assess the clean water act and its effect to the generalpublic and the companies as well. Outlining the major beneficiarieswill also be a major undertaking within this paper. Additionally, theeconomic aspects of the law will be elaborated. The quantitativeanalysis will also be outlined within the paper.

Theclean water Act

Cleanwater is a basic commodity not only to the human beings but aquaticlife as well. Human beings have the right to consume clean water soas to curb any detrimental effects dirty water brings about likestomach upsets. Additionally, living organisms within the waterbodies survive under cleaner waters than contaminated ones. Inbusiness perspective, the fishing industry depends immensely oncleaner waters so as to ensure adequate supply. In that regard, cleanwater tends to be vital for a balanced environment [ CITATION EPA15 l 1033 ].In that respect, analysis of clean water represents quantitativeanalysis.

Theclean water act is a federal law within the United States thatgoverns water pollution. Established in 1948, the act has gonethrough several alterations to ensure it is up to date. For instance,it underwent amendments in 1972, then in 1977 and 1987 all in the aimof improving water quality. Under the clean water act, pollutioncontrol mechanisms like setting the standards of wastewater for anyindustry, quality water standards for all the contaminants withinsurface water have been adopted [ CITATION EPA15 l 1033 ].

Throughthe clean water act, release of pollutants into navigable water hasbeen made unlawful unless one has a permit. Through the NationalPollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), discharges to waterbodies have been regulated. This permit was introduced in 1972 tospecifically regulate discharges into water bodies. The body givesout permits before release of pollutants into water bodies. Thesources vary from septic systems at homes, man-made ditches,industrial facilities and municipal among others. The NPDES controlsthe permits ensuring effluents released do not endanger water speciesor human beings. Industries are hence forced to acquire the permitbefore releasing anything to the water bodies. Economically it may beregarded as time consuming i.e. instead of making profits, industriesare forced to allocate time for effluent safety checks. However,since the inception of the act, various water bodies have beenpreserved and prevented from contamination. It is therefore a worthysacrifice [ CITATION EPA151 l 1033 ].

Introductionof law into this aspect was meant to answer a variety of questions.For example, “does permits or rather effluents control, limit theindustries operability?” This is because industries were forced tolook for permits before releasing effluents into water bodies [CITATION Rob07 l 1033 ].The permit mostly affected industrial companies such as themanufacturing, service, gas and oil extraction and mining industries.Agricultural facilities like animal feedlots and municipalgovernments including military bases were also inclusive. All thesewere labeled as point sources hence had to adhere to theseregulations. Industries cannot release effluents into water bodieswithout getting the permit. Any attempts to do the same could lead toserious repercussions both in penalties and operationability of theindustry. Though the impacts are quite positive in terms ofconservation, time constraints are the underlying repercussions. Forinstance, industries have to allocate time for tests unlike in thepast where effluents were released without any considerations [ CITATION Ame14 l 1033 ].Thisacts are economically challenging. The costs involved in takingpermits, penalties if any law is contravened and time allotted to theexercise all pose economic challenges that impact on company’sprofits.

Inthe business world, every minute means a lot since money or ratherprofits are made in each and every second of operation. Prior to theinception of this policy, industries were not mandated to conducttests before releasing the effluents into water bodies. In thatrespect, much time was allotted to production rather than tests.Additionally, no additional funds were allocated to these tests.However, with the advancement in technology more and more companieshave come up, each with different means of producing their products.In the process, rates of effluents rose and among them toxiceffluents emanated. A good example is gases produced throughcombustion of fossil fuels. The gases are either released to the airaffecting air quality or into water bodies. Degradation of thesenatural resources tends to cause detrimental impacts on variety ofspecies. It is the main reason why the clean water act was developedand further amended to prevent further damage. Economic advancementsgo hand in hand with environmental protection. In other words, ifwater bodies are completely contaminated, industries such as fishery,cruise ship, marine among other recreational and food industrieswould suffer. Regulations are therefore meant to limit detrimentalimpacts [ CITATION Rob07 l 1033 ].

Thepermit is controlled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) which authorized around 46 states to grant the permits. In thatmanner, it is easier to regulate industries due to centralizedcontrol. It also makes it easier to come up with regulatory measuresthat are unison. Whenever some aspect is incorporated, it clearlyaffects all related companies. In other words, no biases ordiscriminations are involved. All the industries involved are treatedwith equity.

Importanceof change

Sincethe advent of industrial revolution, environmental conservation hassuffered immensely. The aspects involved include, air and waterquality degradation, global warming among others. Climate change hasbecome a global issue. Additionally, fish kills event have beenexperienced in many parts of the globe all being traced back totechnology or rather uncontrolled release of effluents. With noapparent restrictions on kind of effluents allowed into water bodies,industries maximized their profits without necessarily consideringenvironmental aspects. This necessitated the need to adopt mechanismsto regulate such activities. The legal changes brought about by theclean water acts are quite beneficial to humans, aquatic life amongothers. For example, controlling effluents tends to control or evenprevent fish kills which happens to be a source of livelihood to manypeople. While exerting control in one industry i.e. ones producingtoxic wastes affects its operations, it benefits fish industries andother industries dependent on marine life. In accordance to law andeconomics perspective, the nature of legal scholarship involved inenvironmental conservation has changed considerably to the benefit ofthe general public. Businesses are bound to adhere to the regulationsthereby creating a conducive environment [ CITATION Rob07 l 1033 ].

The1972 act also developed fresh standards to be adhered by thetechnology based industries. Though the 1948 act outlined the essenceof clean water, it is the 1972 alterations that stamped authority inmaintaining cleaner waters. The standards were level across thecountry to curb any undertakings that could utilize any loopholes.The standard developed was deemed the minimum requirement for anypoint source discharge across the country.


TheNPDES ensures point sources release safer effluents into waterbodies. Under this permit, several aspects are involve i.e. dischargemonitoring reports, on-site assessments. The kinds of dischargesbeing monitored include

  • Pretreatment

  • Storm water

  • Bio-solids

  • Municipal wastewaters overspills as well as storm water management

  • Discharges from animal feeding undertakings

NPDESgrant permits are given to any industry discharging directly intowater bodies. All the categories mentioned above fall under thedocket of this body.

CleanWater Act (CWA) 404

Thissection controls placement of fill or dredged materials intoestuaries, Stream Rivers, lakes and wetlands among other waterbodies. The sections targets to deter losses to wetlands as well asother waters. Additionally, it compensates unpreventable losses byrestoration and mitigation. The EPA and United States Engineers Corpsare tasked with implementing this section by ensuring compliance. The404 enforcement procedures are outlined within the Memorandum ofAgreement (MOA) established in 1989.

Oilspills and prevention

Numerousindustries depend on clean water as a source of generating income. Inaccordance to laws and economics, there should be a balance betweenproduction and safety. If a given act generates much income but isenvironmentally unfriendly, then the business is not well balanced.Additionally, it is the company’s responsibility to ensure safedisposal of waste products [ CITATION Rob07 l 1033 ].In that regard, spillagedoes not only involve oil but includes any hazardous materials. Inaccordance to the Act, spillages are prohibited. If the materials areharmful to the environment, welfare or public health, quantitiesought to be regulated. EPA Oil prevention rules also mandate ownersof oil facilities to enact plans that avoid oil spillages. And incasespillages occur, containment mechanisms must be quickly implemented.The body conducts inspections periodically whether announced or notso as to ensure the regulations are well adhered to. The facilitiesto inspect can be randomly chosen in accordance to

  • Resident complaints

  • Risks facilities e.g. industry closeness to sources of water

  • Follow ups to oil spills


  • Review prevention countermeasures and control mechanisms employed

  • Grill facility personnel

  • Conduct unannounced visits as required by government

Generally,this act exemplifies impact of law on environmental aspects. Theregulations are directly related to some facets of economy throughinvolvement of industries. Industries have to adhere to theregulations so as to maintain their economic mainstay.


Legalchanges are common especially in the ever evolving globe. This isbecause different techniques tend to be adopted each and every time.Variance in the ecological features have drawn negative impacts suchpoor quality of air and water as well as climate changes. It is thereason why clean water act was developed. To curb the detrimentalactivities on the water bodies. Industries were used to releasingwaste products without necessarily taking into consideration thenegative impacts it had on aquatic life. First adopted in 1948, theact continuously evolved to curb the newer mechanisms used to destroythe water bodies. The 1972 amendments posed the major impact with anumber of sectors developed such the NPDES.

Evolvementof these sectors of the Act help maintain a stable ecologicalbalance. Whenever companies sway away from the establishedregulations, punishments or even deregistration can occur. In otherwords, the Act suitably ensures all industries adhere to theregulations. Over the years, fish kill events have been seen withmost being out of hazardous effluents. Business activities thatdepend on marine life are the mostly affected industries. It couldhave been much worse without inception of this Act. As outlined bythe environmental agencies across the globe, weather patterns arecontinuously changing due to the human activities. The natural aspectof the environment is continuously being degraded through humanactivities.

Asportrayed above, apart from the economics aspects of viewingindustries, conservation of environment ought to be adhered to.Currently industries that conserve the environment like water bodiestend to have a better image. Consequently, the economic facets areimproved. The nature of business depends a lot on the environmentalrequirements. In addition to that, the act is a good example ofeconomic law i.e. it governs the environmental aspects throughregulation of industries thus benefiting industries relying onaquatic life. The laws stabilized the environmental aspects thatresulted in a stabilized economy especially in relation to fishingindustries.


American rivers. (2014). Protecting the clean water act. Retrieved March 7, 2006

EPA. (2015, October 13). Clean Water Act compliance monitoring. Retrieved March 7, 2016, from Clean Water Act compliance monitoring.

EPA. (2015, October 8). of the Clean Water Act. Retrieved March 7, 2016

Robert Cooter &amp Thomas Ulen (2007). Introduction to Law and Economics. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.