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Navigating the waters: 2 laws business owners should know about

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Environmental Defense

Unbeknownst to many, American business owners play a crucial role in protecting our water resources. But with complex environmental regulations, staying compliant can be daunting.

Two critical environmental laws govern water usage and quality in the U.S. Understanding them can help you avoid costly and time-consuming water violations and reduce your footprint.

The Clean Water Act (CWA)

Enacted in 1972, the CWA aims to restore and maintain the nation’s water quality. It regulates the discharge of pollutants into waterways, including rivers, lakes and wetlands. Businesses that discharge wastewater, even indirectly through municipal sewers, may need permits under the CWA.

These permits outline specific limits on pollutants like chemicals, metals and even heat. Exceeding discharge limits or causing accidental spills can lead to hefty fines and potential criminal charges.

The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)

This 1974 law assures safe water for all. It sets national standards for public water systems, regulating contaminants like lead, arsenic and bacteria. Businesses that manage their own wells or operate facilities that could potentially contaminate public water sources fall under the SDWA’s purview

The law addresses activities like storing hazardous materials or running underground injection systems. Violations often result in fines, corrective action orders and public health advisories, potentially harming your reputation.

Facing a water violation?

If your business receives notice of a potential violation, it’s crucial to act quickly. Seeking legal guidance will help you assess the situation and next steps. You may need to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rectify the violation. On the other hand, if you believe you did nothing to harm the environment, you can present your case.