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Enforcement

Water Enforcement

overflow

Too much rain can sometimes cause overflows at sewage treatment plants, pushing raw sewage out of sewers and into city streets.

yavapai

EPA and Indian Health Service inspect a drinking water plant on the Yavapai Apache Nation reservation in Arizona.

climbing at water plant

During inspections of drinking water treatment plants, inspectors must climb to the top of the storage tank to check the condition of the tank.

inspections with booms

EPA field personnel using booms and absorbent pads to clean up an oil spill in the Pacific Northwest.

inspector preparing for inspection

EPA inspectors preparing to measure discharge flow during an inspection of a NPDES-permitted wastewater treatment plant in Georgia.

polluted with sediment in an Oklahoma creek

This photo shows an Oklahoma creek that has been polluted with sediment from the activities of a nearby oil and gas drill site.

construction site

Construction sites are required to minimize stormwater pollution by stabilizing exposed dirt and placing filters around storm drains to catch dirt and other debris.

sand bags keeping debris out of water

(Cont) Two sand bags were not sufficient to keep dirt and other debris from entering this storm drain.

cinder blocks and gravel keeping sediments out of storm waterdrain

(Cont) At this construction site, cinder blocks and gravel were effective in keeping sediment out of the storm drain.

East Bay Municipal

In a 2009 settlement, the East Bay Municipal District agreed to address inadequately treated sewage discharges that were spilling into the San Francisco Bay during wet weather.

sewage spill caused partial closure

In 2006, a sewage spill caused partial closure of Waikiki Beach. Honolulu paid a $1.6 million penalty and agreed to upgrade its wastewater system.

CAFOs

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) generate large volumes of animal waste which can contaminated drinking water sources, kill fish, and transmit bacteria.

Louisiana wetland

EPA enforced against a logging company that disposed of fill material in this Louisiana wetland without a permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

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Información relacionada disponible en español (Related Information in Spanish)

EPA enforces requirements under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). For more on EPA's enforcement process, go to basic information on enforcement.

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Clean Water Act

Wastewater Management. Under the CWA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, EPA regulates discharges of pollutants from municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants, sewer collection systems, and stormwater discharges from industrial facilities and municipalities. Learn more about the NPDES program

Pretreatment.  EPA enforces requirements to ensure that industries pre-treat pollutants in their wastes in order to protect local sanitary sewers and wastewater treatment plants. Industrial discharges of metals, oil and grease, and other pollutants can interfere with the operation of local sanitary sewers and wastewater treatment plants, leading to the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated pollutants into local waterways. Learn more about pretreatment .

Stormwater Pollution. This occurs when debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants from industrial, construction, or urban areas get washed into water bodies, either directly or via storm drains. Uncontrolled stormwater discharges can pose significant threats to public health and the environment. The CWA requires that industrial facilities, construction sites, and municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) have measures in place to prevent pollution from being discharged with stormwater into nearby waterways. Learn more about stormwater pollution

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Animal Waste from Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.  CAFOs that are not controlling their animal wastes and illegally discharging pollutants to water bodies are a serious threat to water quality and human health.  Learn more about animal feeding operations.  

Spills - Oil and Hazardous Substances. Oil spills can harm animal and plant life, contaminating food sources and nesting habitats. Petroleum oils can form tars that persist in the environment for years. The CWA prohibits oil or hazardous substance spills in quantities that may be harmful to human health and the environment and requires actions to prevent future spills.  Learn more about oil spill prevention and preparedness regulations

Wetlands - Discharges of Dredge and Fill Material. EPA ensures that dredged or fill material is not discharged into wetlands and other waters of the United States except as authorized by a permit issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. EPA investigates and inspects those discharging dredge and fill material into wetlands and other waters of the United States without a permit and pursues appropriate enforcement to ensure compliance. Learn more about wetlands

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Clean Water Act Compliance Monitoring 

EPA works with its federal, state and tribal regulatory partners through a comprehensive Clean Water Act compliance monitoring program to protect human health and the environment by ensuring that the regulated community obeys environmental laws/regulations through on-site visits by qualified inspectors, and a review of the information EPA or a state/tribe requires to be submitted. 

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Framework for Protecting Public and Private Investment in Clean Water Act Enforcement Remedies

  • The goal of this framework is to ensure that remedies in Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement actions are resilient in the face of climate impacts, such as sea level rise, flooding, and drought, which will increasingly affect water infrastructure and regulated entities’ ability to comply with CWA requirements. This framework relies on the use of common sense measures for protecting people, the environment and economic investments from the impacts of a changing climate. 

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Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)

Drinking Water. EPA safeguards human health by enforcing the requirements of the SDWA to ensure that the nation's public drinking water supply and its sources (rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells) are protected. Learn more about drinking water.

Public Water Systems. EPA ensures that public drinking water systems comply with health-based federal standards for contaminants, which includes performing regular monitoring and reporting.  Learn more about public drinking water systems

Underground Injection Control. Underground injection is the technology of placing fluids underground, in porous formations of rocks, through wells or other similar conveyance systems. EPA ensures that underground injection wells do not endanger any current and future underground or surface sources of drinking water. Learn more about UIC.

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Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Monitoring and Assistance

EPA works with its federal, state and tribal regulatory partners through a comprehensive Safe Drinking Water Act compliance monitoring program to protect human health and the environment by ensuring that the regulated community obeys environmental laws/regulations through on-site visits by qualified inspectors, and a review of the information EPA or a state/tribe requires to be submitted. 

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