Rules & Regulations


  • The Clean Water Act
  • The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program EPA - NPDES


  • Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES) TCEQ - TPDES

Clean Water Act (CWA)

In 1948, Congress enacted the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to address concern about untreated sewage, industrial and toxic discharges, destruction of wetlands, and contaminated runoff. The CWA was revised in 1972 and set a new national goal "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters." As a federal-state partnership, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the authority while states, territories and authorized tribes administer and enforce CWA programs, and citizens are given a strong role in protecting and restoring waters.

The CWA specifies that all discharges into the nation's waters are unlawful unless authorized by a permit and sets baseline, across-the-board technology- based controls for municipalities and industry.

Under the CWA, there are several water programs and regulatory tools to assist in protecting and restoring the nation's waters. The core programs, outlined here, can be also be found by clicking here: EPA - Clean Water Act 101

  • Identifying Polluted Waters and Developing Plans to Restore Them
  • Permitting Discharges of Pollutants from Point Sources
  • Addressing diffuse, nonpoint sources of pollution
  • Protecting Wetlands
  • Protecting Coastal Waters through the National Estuary Program
  • Protecting large Aquatic Ecosystems

The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)

The NPDES is one of the key regulatory tools available in the CWA to protect and restore the nation's waters. The law requires that any point source facility that discharges polluted wastewater into a body of water must first obtain a permit from the EPA or their designated representative. NPDES permitted sources include municipal and industrial wastewater, wet weather discharges including stormwater sources, combine sewer and sanitary sewer overflows, and large concentrated animal feeding operations.

Texas Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (TPDES)

The state of Texas assumed authority to administer the NPDES program on September 14, 1998. The TPDES is a regulatory program to control discharges of pollutants to surface waters. The TPDES now has a federal regulatory authority over discharges of pollutants to Texas surface water, with the exception of discharges associated with oil, gas, and geothermal explroation and developmetn activites, which are regulated by the Railroad Commission of Texas.

(Information on this page was largely reproduced from Clean Water Act 101 and TCEQ - TPDES)