The Story Behind the New Clean Water Act of 1977

by Eugene E. Dallaire, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1978, Vol. 48, Issue 4, Pg. 80-83

Document Type: Feature article


The Clean Water Act of 1977 keeps intact the basic principles of the strong Water Pollution Control Act (PL 92-500) of 1972. Because of the shear magnitude of upgrading the nation's municipal sewage treatment plants and the delays in federal funding, fewer than one-third of the 12,800 municipalities needing to upgrade met the July 1, 1977 deadline requiring secondary treatment. Faced with this fact, Congress, in the new law, allowed for the extension of this deadline, on a case-by-case basis, to July 1, 1983. Among other changes to the 1972 Act discussed: insured funding not only for sewage plants but also collection systems; dollar incentives for using alternative or innovative technology; a crackdown on toxic pollutants; a relaxation in the 1972-law requirement for industry to install best available technology (BAT) by 1983; a more flexible approach to industrial pretreatment requirements; a postponement of industrial cost recovery; and a more flexible system of user charges.

Subject Headings: Clean Water Act | Water pollution | Local government | Sewage | Wastewater treatment plants | Financing | Federal government | Industrial facilities

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