Many people have heard of the Clean Water Act, but not many know exactly what it is or how it governs clean water. Understanding this law is particularly important for people who have oil or gas rights to a property. The current law, enacted in 1972, is an important one for the environment throughout the United States, not just in Louisiana. It regulates how pollutants are released into the waters of the country.
The legislation was originally introduced as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act in 1948. In 1972, the act was expanded and reorganized into the law that companies and citizens must still follow today.
The changes to the act in 1972 made it illegal to discharge pollutants into water that is navigable from a point source (man-made ditches or pipes), unless the entity discharging the pollutants obtained a permit to do so. The permit, which is part of what is known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, is a program that controls discharges into waterways.
This act does not regulate dumping of pollutants from private homes if the homes are connected to a septic system, do not have surface discharge or are connected to a municipal sewer system. Municipalities, industrial companies, and other types of facilities all must obtain this permit if they discharge pollutants directly into waterways anywhere in the country.
The Clean Water Act is an important piece of legislation that protects our waterways, fish, livelihood and health. If you have questions about the law be sure to perform a little research so you know that any actions you take are in compliance.