Growing public awareness and concern for controlling water pollution led to enactment of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. As amended in 1977 and expanded in 1990, this law became commonly known as the Clean Water Act. The Act established the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States. It gave EPA the authority to implement pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.

The Clean Water Act also continued requirements to set water quality standards for all navigable surface waters. The Act made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under its provisions. It also funded the construction of sewage treatment plants under the construction grants program and recognized the need for planning to address the critical problems posed by non-point source pollution.footnote 11

The TCEQ is the State’s primary and comprehensive environmental regulatory agency. Its mission is to protect the State’s precious human and natural resources consistent with sustainable economic development. The agency regulates more than 340,000 public and private facilities and/or individuals in Texas that affect, or have the potential to significantly affect, the environment. The goal of the agency is clean air, clean water, and the safe management of waste.footnote 22 The EPA has delegated the agency certain water enforcement authority.footnote 33

Water Pollution Laws and the Major Provisions

Key Water Pollution Definitionswater PagePic


Texas Water Code 26.001 (14)


Texas Water Code 26.001 (13)


Texas Water Code 26.001(6)


Texas Water Code 26.001(5)

General Areas of Water Pollution Regulation

Texas Water Code 26 subchapter D
30 TAC 307,308

Possible Civil Violations

Texas Water Code 7.101, 7.102

Possible Criminal Violations

Texas Water Code e.g. 7.145

  1. Taken from the EPA website description of the history of the Clean Water Act.
  2. Taken from page 8 of TCEQ publication entitled “Annual Enforcement Report, Fiscal Year 2006.”
  3. Primarily delegated in the area of eliminating discharges of pollutants.