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EPA Publishes Rules for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

June 1973

Citation: ELR 10085

EPA recently issued final regulations implementing the discharge permit requirements of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.1 The permit system is the basic enforcement mechanism for achieving the effluent and water quality standards established by the Act. The discharge of any pollutant into navigable waters requires a permit, either from the federal government or an EPA-approved state program. So far, California is the only state to have had its program approved.

The scope of the Act is set out in two important definitions contained in the Regulations. Part 125.1 (o) defines "navigable waters" and encompasses any water that Congress would have the power to regulate under the Commerce Clause, a much broader assertion of federal power than would be possible were the test "navigability in fact." The term "pollutant" is defined in Part 125.1 (x) as "dredged spoil, solid waste, incinerator residue, sewage, garbage, sewage sludge, munitions, chemical wastes, biological materials, radioactive materials, heat, wrecked or discarded equipment, rock, sand, cellar dirt, and industrial, municipal, and agricultural waste discharged into water." Most vessel discharges, dredge and fill material, deposits into publicly owned treatment works, and uncontrolled storm runoffs are specifically excluded from the permit requirement.

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