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United States Regulation of Point Source Water Pollution. David Christopher, Kristen Davee , Jessie Skaggs, Susan Wambugu. Presentation Outline. Introduction Regulatory Framework Tensions/issues/concerns emerging Regulatory approaches Policy instrument piñata. Need-to-Know Stuff.

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united states regulation of point source water pollution

United States Regulation of Point Source Water Pollution

David Christopher, Kristen Davee, Jessie Skaggs, Susan Wambugu

presentation outline
Presentation Outline


Regulatory Framework


emerging Regulatory approaches

Policy instrument piñata

need to know stuff
Need-to-Know Stuff
  • Definition/Context
    • Point sources of water pollution are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches from stationary locations
    • Sources include sewage treatment plants, factories, wastewater treatment facilities, septic systems and ships
relevant science
Relevant Science

Biological, Chemical, Physical CHANGES

Water Quantity Issues







cuyahoga river case
Cuyahoga River Case
  • The river had become extremely polluted due to industrial and oil refinery activities along its banks
  • This resulted in numerous fires beginning in 1936


  • The 1969 fire finally drew national attention
  • Credited for the amendments leading to the enactment of the CWA and the creation of the EPA


history of regulation
History of Regulation
  • 1899 – Rivers and Harbors Act
  • 1948 – Federal Water Pollution Control Act
    • 1966 – Clean Water Restoration Act
    • 1970 – Water Quality Improvement Act
    • 1972 – Clean Water Act

Health-based Standards

Tech-based Standards

clean water act
Clean Water Act
  • Point source water pollution is regulated through the Clean Water Act, which gives the EPA the authority to set limits on the acceptable amount of pollutants that can be discharged into waters of the United States.
    • Direct Sources
    • Indirect Sources
indirect point sources
Indirect Point Sources
  • City sewer => POTW => Discharged
  • National Pretreatment Program


direct point sources
Direct Point Sources
  • Discharged directly into a water body
  • National Pollution Discharge Elimination System
    • Technology-based
      • Municipal
      • Non-municipal
    • Water quality-based
    • Enforcement
tensions issues concerns


  • Lack of funding on the state's part that is required to carry out monitoring
    • Can lead to an uncertainty regarding water quality
  • Point Source Control Costs
    • Private costs: $14 billion
    • Public costs: $34 billion
    • Total: $48 billion
  • Self-monitoring and self-reporting
    • Self-incriminating?
    • US v. Hopkins
  • State/Federal tension
    • Commerce Clause
    • SWANCC v. US Army Corps of Engineers
ambiguity of the cwa
Ambiguity of the CWA
  • Coeur Alaska v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council
    • Disposal of mine tailings
    • NPDES or Dredge and Fill permit
    • Implications



water quality trading wqt the basics
Water Quality Trading (WQT)—The Basics
  • EPA Water Quality Trading Policy
    • January 2003
  • Market-based approach
  • Low cost polluters trade with high cost polluters
  • Watershed-scale
  • Still subject to CWA requirements


wqt the markets
WQT—The Markets
  • Most markets focus on nutrient trading
  • Often based on TMDLs
  • The currency: Pollution Credits
  • Trade Ratios
    • Location
    • Delivery
    • Uncertainty
    • Equivalency
    • Retirement


wqt the good stuff
WQT—The Good Stuff
  • Economic, environmental and social benefits
    • $avings
    • Habitat/Ecosystem protection
    • Dialog among stakeholders
  • Factors influencing success


wqt lingering issues and burning questions
WQT—Lingering Issues and Burning Questions
  • Contrast to emissions trading
    • Air pollution vs. water pollution
  • If WQT is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it?
    • Basically: lack of supply and demand


transboundary pollution u s mexico border
Transboundary Pollution (U.S.-Mexico Border)
  • Overview
  • Policy Issues
    • Origin of pollutants
    • Both countries affected
    • Socio-economic differences
    • Multiple players and interests
  • Response
    • NAFTA and creation of BECC, NADB
    • U.S.-Mexico border program
        • Voluntary programs funded by NADB
        • Information
        • Direct provision
        • Watchdog
how it works
How it works


policy instrument pi ata
Policy Instrument Piñata
  • Command and Control
    • Performance-based
  • Bans
  • Marketable Allowances
  • Voluntary Programs
  • Bully Pulpit
  • Licensing
  • Inspections
  • Information/Education
  • Fines
  • Contracting
  • Combination of Instruments