Clean Water Act

Published: August 12, 2019 | Last updated: July 5, 2023

What Does Clean Water Act Mean?

Clean Water Act (CWA) is a federal law in the United States (US) that regulates the discharge of pollutants into water bodies. It was enacted in 1948 and was known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but was later reorganized and expanded in 1972 and came to be known as CWA. CWA regulates the discharge of waste drilling fluid after completion of a trenchless project.

Drilling fluid is a crucial part of a trenchless project that uses methods such as horizontal directional drilling (HDD) but contains harmful chemicals that can pollute surface water bodies and harm aquatic life.


Trenchlesspedia Explains Clean Water Act

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets national water quality criteria under the CWA. This specifies the level of pollutants that can be discharged into water bodies and the discharge is controlled by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Those discharging the pollutants need to obtain federal permits for every chemical they discharge. The CWA has contributed significantly to reducing the amount of wastewater that enters water bodies.

As per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), spent drilling mud is special waste. The drilling process generates used drilling fluid and drill cutting, both of which need to be disposed of safely, away from groundwater sources and fields, to prevent contamination.

Regulatory practice for waste disposal has undergone radical changes since the 1980s, with acts such as Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA).


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