Federal Equity Implications of Federal Water Laws
February 23, 2024

Scott Berry, Director of Policy & Government Affairs with US Water Alliance, and Julian Gonzalez, Senior Legislative Counsel with Earthjustice, presented to the Caucus. 

The takeaways:

  • The training covered landmark U.S. federal water law, the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act, and their key amendments.
    • The Clean Water Act's (1972) purpose is to elimination pollution into the nation's surface waters. Later amendments allow the EPA to assess penalties and fines, began address nonpoint source pollution, and created the Clean Water State Revolving Funds.
      • 50 years of the Clean Water Act is a story of both progress and continued struggle. The good?
        • The Clean Water Act is an important legal advocacy tool, and 2/3 of all environmental citizen law suits are Clean Water Act suits, that are a deterrent to polluting industry. Clean Water Act permitting also provide an opportunity for Tribes and communities to shape local clean water protections.
      •  The Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) is a more narrow law that sest the groundwork to protect public health and drinking water from contamination but provides fewer advocaccy pathways than the Clean Water Act. Later amendments established the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to provide federal support for drinking water infrastructure.
        • Unfortunately, there have been barely any new contaminants regulated under the State Drinking Water Act since 1996, leading to thousands of unregulated contaminants. The law is barely enforced and includes only weak citizen suit provisions, compared to the Clean Water Act.

To learn more, access the training slides here. A recording of the training is available upon request.