chapter  1
28 Pages

The Problem and the Approach

One of the most important pieces of national environmental legislation

created during the 1970s was the comprehensive amendment of the Federal

Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA(A)). These amendments, signed into law

in 1972, in reality constituted a major piece of legislation in their own

right, dramatically redirecting the nation's water pollution control

efforts and setting out ambitious national goals, expressed both in terms

of discharge controls and of resulting water quality. The earlier version

of FWPCA (encoded in PL 87-88 of 1961) and the Water Quality Act of 1964

(PL 89-234) set up a system of ambient water quality standards chosen by

the states with federal guidance. In contrast to this legislation, the

1972 amendments stressed discharge control (Davies and Davies, 1975). The

key elements in this new attack on pollution were a series of general

control technology definitions with deadlines for their application.^

Effluent limitations based on best practicable control technology currently available (BPCTCA or BPT for short) were to be applied to all private point sources of waterborne waste discharge by July 1, 1977.