Water Pollution:

Observations on Compliance and Enforcement Activities Under the Clean Water Act

T-RCED-91-80: Published: Jul 18, 1991. Publicly Released: Jul 18, 1991.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

GAO discussed compliance with and enforcement activities under the Clean Water Act, focusing on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water quality programs. GAO noted that: (1) federal, municipal, and industrial facilities have a long-standing history of noncompliance with the act's requirements to monitor their effluent and meet pollutant discharge limits; (2) despite such serious and long-standing violations, EPA and state enforcement of water quality laws continue to be weak and sporatic; (3) a recent EPA evaluation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System disclosed that 14 percent of the nation's major municipal facilities, 6 percent of industrial facilities, and 18 percent of federal facilities had serious noncompliance problems; (4) EPA regions and states failed to assess penalties in accordance with its civil penalty policy and inadequately documented penalty reductions; (5) in June 1990, EPA issued a 4-year strategic plan to enhance overall compliance efforts; (6) although EPA developed guidance to define timely and appropriate enforcement of its pretreatment program, the guidance allowed enforcement officials broad discretion in their implementation of such guidance; and (7) EPA used such mild enforcement actions as verbal warnings, rather than fines or penalties. GAO also noted that an effective enforcement program requires: (1) the development of criteria allowing regulators to set enforcement priorities and identify appropriate enforcement actions; and (2) vigilant oversight by EPA headquarters of its regional offices' and states' enforcement activities.

Aug 4, 2015

Jul 30, 2015

Jul 29, 2015

Jul 23, 2015

Jul 22, 2015

Jul 8, 2015

Jul 6, 2015

Jun 24, 2015

Jun 9, 2015

Jun 4, 2015

Looking for more? Browse all our products here