Wetlands Regulations Under the Federal Clean Water Act

April 24, 2012 — 1,322 views  
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The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) is based upon the Federal Water Pollution Control Amendments of 1972, and continues to mandate water quality standards in the United States today. This includes everything from drinking water to the rivers and streams in the American countryside. However, the main body of this legislation focuses on the regulation of construction and subsequent material dumping that occurs in or around bodies of water in the United States.

When it comes to wetland regulations, the CWA is explicitly clear in regulating the dumping of dredged or fill materials into anything classified as waters of the United States. If any material discharge affects bottom elevation, land developers must obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This is because improper disposal can result in damage to the natural habitats of various indigenous creatures, and if allowed to continue unabated it can destroy entire ecosystems.

For example, mining processes require a special permit to dump extra soil and rocks in streams and rivers despite the natural formation of such by-products. These professionals must obtain a Natural Pollutant Discharge Elimination System from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or at least provide one for inspection.