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S. 2770, Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, introduced by Senator Edmund S. Muskie of Maine, reorganized and expanded earlier legislation regulating surface-water quality. It required federal permits for release of pollutants into the nation’s waters. Congress had to balance the financial costs to businesses and farmers with the health and environmental costs of pollution.

"The objective of this Act is to restore and maintain the natural chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters."

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

S. 2770, Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 - Page 1 S. 2770, Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 - Page 2

The Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act—part of a series of environmental acts Congress initiated in 1948—was one of the outstanding U.S. legislative achievements of the twentieth century. Intended to reduce pollution of interstate rivers and of surface and underground water, the Clean Water Act of 1972 provided the first effective enforcement of water-quality standards. It was forged in a laborious compromise between divergent House and Senate bills and between concerns of environmentalists and industry. Congress passed it over President Richard Nixon’s veto.