August 27, 2019

The Stream of Commerce

Matthew LaRue


The goal of the Clean Water Act (CWA or the Act) is to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. The Act achieves this goal by, inter alia, requiring states to identify and list the navigable waters within its boundaries with insufficient controls of water quality standards and restricting the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). However, under the current interpretation of the Act, many of its programs have limited impact because the Act’s jurisdiction only reaches “navigable waters,” a timeworn term, haplessly defined as “waters of the United States, including the territorial seas” (WOTUS).

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