The Clean Water Act NPDES Program: How Citizens Can Use the Law to Protect their Watershed
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In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251 et seq. (CWA), "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters.'" In implementing this Act, Congress recognized that a necessary component of achieving the fundamental goal of protecting our nation's water resources is that of meaningful public participation." However, despite Congress' clear mandate of public participation, the CWA and its processes designed to involve the public remain elusive to many. For example, here in Georgia, the Governor's Environmental Advisory Council, created by Georgia's General Assembly, identified lack of meaningful public participation in environmental decision-making as a key concern. This paper discusses the requirements of one program of the CWA — the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program — that offers EPD a vehicle for fulfilling the Congressional mandate of meaningful participation in environmental decisionmaking. Through that participation, citizens can ensure that Georgia's environmental agency implements policies that are fully protective of our state's precious natural resources.
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