The Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq) is a 1977 amendment to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, which set the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants to waters of the United States.
The law gave EPA the authority to set effluent standards on an industry basis (technology-based) and continued the requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. The CWA makes it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters unless a permit (NPDES) is obtained under the Act.
The 1977 amendments focused on toxic pollutants. In 1987, the CWA was reauthorized and again focused on toxic substances, authorized citizen suit provisions, and funded sewage treatment plants (POTW's) under the Construction Grants Program.
The CWA provisions for the delegation by EPA of many permitting, administrative, and enforcement aspects of the law to state governments. In states with the authority to implement CWA programs, EPA still retains oversight responsibilities. Michigan is one of two states in the Nation which EPA has authorized to administer the “Section 404” federal wetland permitting program. See the Michigan Wetland law and its Summary for further information.
(Always refer to the most current version of the law, either by checking the compiled laws, or referring to the U.S.Code Service site above.)