In response to the growing public concern for serious and widespread water pollution, Congress enacted the first comprehensive national clean water legislation in 1972. The primary federal law that protects our nation's waters is the Clean Water Act of 1972. Its primary objective is to restore and maintain the integrity of the nation's waters, including lakes, rivers, and aquifers. In order to achieve this objective, the Clean Water Act seeks to eliminate the discharge of pollutants into the nation's waters and to achieve water quality levels that are drinkable, fishable, and swimmable.
Stormwater runoff is the leading cause of pollution and impairment to the nearly 40 percent of water bodies which do not meet water quality standards, and this pollution can result in the destruction of fish, wildlife, and aquatic life habitats and threats to public health due to contaminated food, drinking water, and recreational waterways. As a result, Congress implemented the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) for stormwater management as part of the 1987 amendments to the Clean Water Act. The NPDES stormwater program is a comprehensive two-phased program for addressing stormwater discharges that adversely affect the quality of our nation's waters.
Many state, regional, and local organizations assisted the MTT in the research and development of Policy Statement #7. The consultants listed on page 12 all provided substantive commentary and printed material for the composition of Policy Statement #7.