Water Quality Issues in the 111th Congress : Oversight and Implementation

Congressional Research Service

[Abstract] In the 111th Congress, growing interest in increased investment in public works infrastructure-including wastewater-in order to stimulate the faltering U.S. economy is likely to bring greater attention to water infrastructure issues. Also likely to be of interest are programs that regulate activities in wetlands, especially CWA Section 404, which has been criticized by landowners for intruding on private land-use decisions and imposing excessive economic burdens. Environmentalists view this regulatory program as essential for maintaining the health of wetland ecosystems, and they are concerned about court rulings that narrowed regulatory protection of wetlands and about related administrative actions. Many stakeholders desire clarification of the act’s regulatory jurisdiction, but they differ on what solutions are appropriate. In the 110th Congress, committees held hearings on legislation intended to provide that clarification. Other issues discussed in this report that also could be of interest in the 111th Congress include implementation of current programs to manage nonpoint sources of pollution, as these are major contributors to water quality impairments across the country; and implementation of EPA rules governing discharges of wastes from large animal feeding operations.


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