What is Clean Water Act?

Legal Definition
The Clean Water Act (CWA) is the primary federal law in the United States governing water pollution. Its objective is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources, providing assistance to publicly owned treatment works for the improvement of wastewater treatment, and maintaining the integrity of wetlands. It is one of the United States' first and most influential modern environmental laws. As with many other major U.S. federal environmental statutes, it is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in coordination with state governments. Its implementing regulations are codified at 40 C.F.R. Subchapters D, N, and O (Parts 100-140, 401-471, and 501-503).

When EPA first opened its doors in 1970, the agency had weak authority to protect U.S. waters, lacking the legal power to write effluent guidelines and possessing only general authority to require secondary treatment from industrial dischargers.

Technically, the name of the law is the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The first FWPCA was enacted in 1948, but took on its modern form when completely rewritten in 1972 in an act entitled the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. Major changes have subsequently been introduced via amendatory legislation including the Clean Water Act of 1977 and the Water Quality Act of 1987.

The Clean Water Act does not directly address groundwater contamination. Groundwater protection provisions are included in the Safe Drinking Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Superfund act.
-- Wikipedia