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Clean Water Act
Citizen's Guide to the Clean Water Act
1. Overview of the Clean Water Act
2. Discharge Permits
3. Permitting Process
4. Enforcement of Permit Conditions
5. Know your Watershed
6. Protect your Watershed
7. Taking Action
8. Tool Kit
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Clean Water Act
The Citizen’s Guide to Fighting Water Pollution in Georgia is designed to help citizens like you understand permitting, monitoring and management processes under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and help achieve the Clean Water Act’s fundamental goal of protecting our water resources. This 8-step Guide offers insight on the federal and state permitting programs, TMDLs, 303(d) Lists, 305(b) reports, CAFOs and other point sources, and watersheds. Links to the summaries and full-text documents of federal and state statutes are made available in the Guide.
Never before has there been such a need to protect Georgia's water resources. Rapid population growth, corresponding growth of urban areas, and poor implementation and enforcement of existing environmental laws have taken a toll on Georgia's streams, rivers, and lakes. While the extent of water pollution in our State may be discouraging, Georgians have the tools to prevent further degradation of our waterways.
The Clean Water Act, passed by Congress to protect our nation's waters, gives citizens the power to protect our streams, rivers, lakes, and watersheds. While enacted as a regulatory tool for the government, the Act also allows for public involvement in environmental decision-making. This guide is designed to help citizens like you maneuver through these processes and help achieve the Clean Water Act's fundamental goal of protecting our water resources. We will take you step-by-step through the process of finding out what type of pollutants are being discharged into your watershed, by whom, whether they are harmful, and how to develop a strategy to reduce the amount of that pollution.
We will also let you know how GreenLaw can help you through this process. In fact, we are available to answer questions, point you in the right direction, and even help you implement your strategy! This Guide is sponsored in part by the
Georgia Civil Justice Foundation
. The purpose of the Guide is to educate you about environmental laws and regulations, not to advocate any particular position on any of these provisions, and the support for this program by the Civil Justice Foundation is intended solely to educate citizens of Georgia in the law and the process for participation by citizens in the legal process.
Step1: A Brief Overview of the Clean Water Act
The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, more commonly known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), is the basic federal law for controlling water pollution in the United States.
Step 2: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) is a permit-based program designed to regulate the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters.
Step 3: NPDES Permitting Process
Understanding the permitting process is critical for anyone wanting to use the Clean Water Act as a tool for protecting and restoring Georgia’s waters.
Step 4: Enforcement of Permit Conditions
Establishing liability for NPDES permit violations is relatively straightforward: A violation of an NPDES permit constitutes a violation of the CWA.
Step 5: Know your Watershed: Getting the Big Picture
Now that you have a general understanding of the Clean Water Act, it is time to learn more about your watershed and what you can do to protect it.
Step 6: Protect Your Watershed: Reviewing EPD Files
The quickest and easiest way to determine who is discharging in your watershed is to access the Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Web site.
Step 7: Taking Action
GreenLaw was founded to help citizens like you take the next step and do something about pollution in your watershed.
Step 8: Tool Kit
Review tools that will assist you in developing a strategy to address the problems in your watershed.
Photo by James Holland
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