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The Clean Water Act Returns (Again): Part I, TMDLs and the Chesapeake Bay

March 2011

Citation: 41 ELR 10208

Issue: 3

Author: Oliver A. Houck

The CWA, with multiple paths to its destination, is reinventing itself once more. Enacted in modern for  in 1972, the next quarter century saw EPA focused on the development of technology standards for industrial and municipal point sources. In the mid-1990s, prodded forward by a stream of citizen suits, the Agency started to address nonpoint sources of pollution through water quality standards and the TMDL program. This movement stalled from 2000-2009, and the current revival raises the question whether EPA, at last, can make nonpoint and ambient-based controls effective. The answers are being tested in two venues where the problems are among the most acute and their solutions the most resisted: the Chesapeake Bay and Florida. As go the Chesapeake and the Sunshine State, so will go the future of clean water for years to come.

Oliver A. Houck is Professor of Law, Tulane University. The research assistance of Claire Yancey, J.D. 2010, and Walewska M. Watkins, LLM 2010, Tulane Law School, is acknowledged with gratitude, as is informational assistance from G. Tracy Mehan, former EPA Assistant Administrator for Water; Cy Jones, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute; Yee Huang, Policy Analyst, Center for Progressive Reform; and Rick Parrish, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center.

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