The federal Clean Water Act exists to protect water sources in the United States and to preserve the chemical and biological integrity of the sources of that water. The goal of the act is not only to preserve water as an accessible resource that people require but to also preserve the biological diversity of the country's ecosystems as a natural resource in its own right. This preservation helps with the continuation of traditional activities such as hunting and forestry as well as modern cultural, recreational, and commercial use of the resources.
Why is the Clean Water Act important to Georgia?
Since the Act seeks to preserve ecosystems as well as to protect the cleanliness of the water, it is central to several Georgia industries, including the commercial fishing and tourism industries. The Act helps to empower the federal and state governments to keep coastal areas clear of the kind of pollution and damage that could potentially sideline these industries, keeping the economy balanced and encouraging trade for every business in the state.
How the Act Works
The Clean Water Act sets standards for water quality that states are to meet, and the rubric for those standards is made of three components. The first one defines the six uses of water that are protected in Georgia:
- Scenic River
- Wild River
- Coastal Fishing
- Drinking Water Supplies
The standards then describe different levels of acceptable water standards that are based on the defined uses of different bodies of water. These criteria are both narrative and numeric, meaning that there is a general description of the outcomes that define the acceptable use of the water as well as maximum levels of certain pollutant chemicals. These levels vary according to the use of the water source.
The last part of the water standards is Georgia's compliance with the federal antidegradation policy, which is achieved through the Rules and Regulations for Water Quality Control. This helps the state government maintain and increase the water quality throughout the state.
Understanding the Clean Water Act is important for any business that seeks to operate in the state of Georgia and make use of the state's natural resources. Working with the state government to meet water quality standards and to enrich local communities is the easiest way to prevent environmental litigation down the road. To do that successfully, many businesses wind up consulting with attorneys as their operations develop to keep everything moving smoothly.