"Much progress has been made in achieving the ambitious goals that Congress established in 1972 in the Clean Water Act (CWA) to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation's waters. However, long-standing problems persist, and new problems have emerged. Water quality problems are diverse, ranging from pollution runoff from farms and ranches, city streets, and other diffuse or 'nonpoint' sources, to toxic substances discharged from factories and sewage treatment plants. […] Programs that regulate activities in wetlands have been of particular interest recently, 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 have narrowed regulatory protection of wetlands. […] On March 25, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a rule intended to clarify jurisdictional issues, but interpretive questions about the proposal remain controversial inside and outside of Congress. The agencies expect to issue a final rule by April 2015. […] House and Senate committees have approved bills to reauthorize CWA assistance on several occasions since the 107th Congress, but, for various reasons, no legislation other than appropriations was enacted. At issue has been the role of the federal government in assisting states and cities in meeting needs to rebuild, repair, and upgrade wastewater treatment systems, especially in light of capital costs that are projected to be nearly $300 billion over the next 20 years. […]"
CRS Report for Congress, R43867