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The Water Quality Act of 1965

The Water Quality Act of 1965

Legislation

By: United States Congress

Date: October 2, 1965

Source: U.S. Congress. "The Water Quality Act of 1965." 79 Stat. 903, 70 Stat. 498. Washington, D.C.: October 2, 1965.

About the Author: The Congress of the United States was established by Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution of 1787. It is the legislative arm of the U.S. Federal Government.

INTRODUCTION

The Water Quality Act of 1965 and the amendments that became law in 1977 represent two of several initiatives by the federal government of the United States to protect and ensure the quality of surface and ground waters.

Legislative concern over water quality began in 1948, with the passage of the Water Pollution Control Act. The act was essentially an adoption of principles to be followed in the pursuit of water quality. It was the Water Quality Act of 1965 that put some legislative teeth to these principles.

The 1965 legislation directed the states to develop water quality standards. A federally directed initiative was deemed necessary since many watersheds and waterways crossed state boundaries. By the early 1970s, water quality standards had been developed and enacted by all the states. Since then, revisions have occurred to reflect changing scientific information and new testing procedures.

In 1972, the Clean Water Act legislation came into effect. The act aimed to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters." The act was slightly modified in 1977 by the implementation of amendments that expanded the mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to encompass the release of toxic compounds into sewers and surface waters. Thus, EPA had the legislative muscle to regulate runoff.

Legislation specifically directed at drinking water was tabled in 1974. The Safe Drinking Water Act required the EPA to establish standards for a variety of contaminants and requirements for the operation and upkeep of municipal drinking water treatment systems. The 1974 legislation was amended in 1986 because many contaminants identified in water had not been regulated. Since then, a list of contaminants is published every three years and is used to drive future regulatory changes.

In 1987, another series of amendments to the Clean Water Act, which were also referred to as the Water Quality Act, strengthened EPA's mandate to control runoff. Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes were specifically targeted by the formation of remediation and protection programs. The Great Lakes Program authorized research into the bioaccumulation of toxic pollutants in aquatic species, particularly those of commercial and recreational interest. As well, this Water Quality Act broadened the reporting of the harmful effects of "acid rain" in water courses and created a program for states to identify and control surface runoff (also known as nonpoint source pollution).

Revisions to the Clean Water Act in 1995 and 1996 were intended to provide states more latitude in determining the quality of water within their jurisdictions, and to harmonize the Safe and Clean drinking Water Acts.

PRIMARY SOURCE

THE WATER QUALITY ACT OF 1965

An Act To amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to establish a Federal Water Pollution Control Administration, to provide grants for research and development, to increase grants for construction of sewage treatment works, to require establishment of water quality criteria, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That (a) (1) section 1 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 466) is amended by inserting after the words "SECTION 1." a new subsection (a) as follows:

"(a) The purpose of this Act is to enhance the quality and value of our water resources and to establish a national policy for the prevention, control, and abatement of water pollution."…

FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ADMINISTRATION

SEC. 2. Effective ninety days after the date of enactment of this section there is created within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare a Federal Water Pollution Control Administration (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the "Administration")….

GRANTS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

SEC. 6. (a) The Secretary is authorized to make grants to any State, municipality, or intermunicipal or interstate agency for the purpose of assisting in the development of any project which will demonstrate a new or improved method of controlling the discharge into any waters of untreated or inadequately treated sewage or other waste from sewers which carry storm water or both storm water and sewage or other wastes, and for the purpose of reports, plans, and specifications in connection therewith. The Secretary is authorized to provide for the conduct of research and demonstrations relating to new or improved methods of controlling the discharge into any waters of untreated or inadequately treated sewage or other waste from sewers which carry storm water or both storm water and sewage or other wastes, by contract with public or private agencies and institutions and with individuals without regard to sections 3648 and 3709 of the Revised Statutes, except that not to exceed 25 per centum of the total amount appropriated under authority of this section for any fiscal year may be expended under authority of this sentence during such fiscal year.

(b) Federal grants under this section shall be subject to the following limitations: (1) No grant shall be made for any project pursuant to this section unless such project shall have been approved by an appropriate State water pollution control agency or agencies and by the Secretary; (2) no grant shall be made for any project in an amount exceeding 50 per centum of the estimated reasonable cost thereof as determined by the Secretary; (3) no grant shall be made for any project under this section unless the Secretary determines that such project will serve as a useful demonstration of a new or improved method of controlling the discharge into any water of untreated or inadequately treated sewage or other waste from sewers which carry storm water or both storm water and sewage or other wastes.

(c) There are hereby authorized to be appropriated for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1966, and for each of the next three succeeding fiscal years, the sum of $20,000,000 per fiscal year for the purposes of this section. Sums so appropriated shall remain available until expended. No grant or contract shall be made for any project in an amount exceeding 5 per centum of the total amount authorized by this section in any one fiscal year….

(3) Standards of quality established pursuant to this subsection shall be such as to protect the public health or welfare, enhance the quality of water and serve the purposes of this Act. In establishing such standards the Secretary, the Hearing Board, or the appropriate State authority shall take into consideration their use and value for public water supplies, propagation of fish and wildlife, recreational purposes, and agricultural, industrial, and other legitimate uses….

(5) The discharge of matter into such interstate waters or portions thereof, which reduces the quality of such waters below the water quality standards established under this subsection (whether the matter causing or contributing to such reduction is discharged directly into such waters or reaches such waters after discharge into tributaries of such waters), is subject to abatement in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (g) of this section, except that at least 180 days before any abatement action is initiated under either paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (g) as authorized by this subsection, the Secretary shall notify the violators of other interested parties of the violation of such standards. In any suit brought under the provision of this subsection the court shall receive in evidence a transcript of the proceedings of the conference and hearing provided for in this subsection, together with the recommendations of the conference and Hearing Board and the recommendations and standards promulgated by the Secretary, and such additional evidence, including that relating to the alleged violation of the standards, as it deems necessary t a complete review of the standards and to a determination of all other issues relating to the alleged violation. The court, giving due consideration to the practicability and to the physical and economic feasibility of complying with such standards, shall have jurisdiction to enter such judgment and orders enforcing such judgment as the public interest and the equities of the case may require.

(6) Nothing in this subsection shall (A) prevent the application of this section to any case to which subsection (a) of this section would otherwise be applicable, or (B) extend Federal jurisdiction over water not otherwise authorized by this Act.

(7) In connection with any hearings under this section no witness or any other person shall be required to divulge trade secrets or secret processes.

Public Law 89-235

Joint Resolution Authorizing and requesting the President to extend through 1966 his proclamation of a period to "See the United States," and for other purposes.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the president is authorized and requested (1) to extend through 1966 the period designated pursuant to the joint resolution approved August 11, 1964 (Public Law 88-416), as a period to see the United States and its territories; (2) to encourage private industry and interested private organizations to continue their efforts to attract greater numbers of the American people to the scenic, historical, and recreational areas and facilities of the United States of America, its territories and possessions, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and (3) to issue a proclamation specially inviting citizens of other ceremonials to be celebrated in 1966 in the United States of America, its territories and possessions, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

SEC. 2. The President is authorized to publicize any proclamations issued pursuant to the first section and otherwise to encourage and promote vacation travel within the United States of America, its territories and possessions, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, both by American citizens and by citizens of other countries, through such departments or agencies of the Federal Government as he deems appropriate, in cooperation with State and local agencies and private organizations.

SEC. 3. For the purpose of the extension provided for by this joint resolution, the President is authorized during the period of such extension to exercise the authority conferred by section 3 of the joint resolution approved August 11, 1964 (Public Law 88-416), and for such purpose may extend for such period the appointment of any person serving as National Chairman pursuant to such section.

Approved October 2, 1965.

SIGNIFICANCE

The Water Quality Acts have been an integral part of the evolving water quality strategy in the decades since the principles underlying safe and clean water were first proposed in the 1940s.

FURTHER RESOURCES

Books

Copeland, Claudia. Clean Water Act: Current Issues and Guide to Books. Hauppauge, N.Y.: Nova Science Publishers, 2003.

Ryan, Mark A. The Clean Water Act Handbook, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: American Bar Association, 2004.

Web sites

United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Water Quality Standards Program History." 〈http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/standards/about/history.htm〉 (accessed February 17, 2006).

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