Regulating water pollution not only takes effort, but community conscience and action. The federal government is doing their part to manage pollution. They’ve created acts and are enforcing permits that protect our lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Clean Water Act

In 1976, the Clean Water Act (CWA) was passed by Congress to govern water pollution due to a clean water crisis. The primary purpose of this act is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity” which prevents people from pouring harmful chemicals or pollutants into the water without a permit.

Congress passed the first Clean Water Act in 1948. This act was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). The FWPCA remains the foundation for the CWA that is still intact today. 

The Clear Water Act maintains the quality of water by addressing pollution issues and recognizing the responsibility each state should have regarding pollution through permits.

What are Water Board Permits?

The permits that allow people to discharge pollutants into bodies of water with restrictions are called water board permits or National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

NPDES permits ensure that state mandatory standards for federal minimum regulations are met to keep water clean. These permits allow facilities, such as factories or farms, to discharge a specified amount of pollution or industrial and agricultural waste. 

These facilities are allowed to distribute a certain amount of chemicals into a body of water with consideration of the water’s current condition. For example, if a lake already has high toxicity levels or bacteria and is close to the federal regulations of pollutants, facilities cannot discharge pollutants into that body of water. 

Individual homes that use a basic septic system are not required to have a NPDES permit. The only case where individual homes need a water board permit is when that home connects to a municipal system, which in most cases, they do not.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and authorized states issue water board permits. Check with your state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to see if they issue NPDES permits, water board permits, water permits or water discharge permits. 

The name of NPDES permits varies from state to state. For example, the state of California labels them water board permits.  

Since the Environmental Protection Agency issues NPDES permits for New Hampshire, New Mexico and Massachusetts, it’s important to know what the federal government calls them.

Author Bio-

Building off over 3 decades of experience from working with his father Jim Mayfield (Mayfield Enterprises, Inc.), James mastered the industry in Foremanship for over 15 years on HAZMAT and Superfund Sites throughout Southern California. Among many other partners, we has worked with Project Navigator, RE Solutions, Crew Grading Inc., WSP, SCS Engineers, TRC Corporation, GeoSyntec, NV5 Environmental, Entact Corp, Waste by Rail, Michael Baker, ERRG, O&M Corp, Largo Concrete, B&D Construction, Xebec, WorkSmart, JLL Enterprises, Mayfield Enterprises, Inc., Arcadis, and more. In addition to being a Stanford-educated Professor with over 30 publications and books in several languages (see Academic Resume), James’ real passion lies in Construction-related Project Management, Environmental Cleanups, HAZMAT, Excavation, and Field Labor. We are also Minority-Owned. James Mayfield is a Native American citizen of the Iowa Tribe of Kansas & Nebraska.

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