The Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual

Coming October 18, 2022: the 3rd Edition of River Network’s Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual! Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated and be the first to know when the Manual is released this fall.

The Clean Water Act became law 50 years ago. To commemorate the milestone of this landmark legislation and mark our continued resolve to protect waterways across our country, River Network has updated our transformational Clean Water Act Owner’s Manual. Over the two decades since its original publication, this tool has galvanized local groups, grassroots advocates and diverse stakeholders to protect their local waters by identifying the many ways that every person can track, influence, and change the way the law is implemented at the federal, state, and local levels.

Much has changed since the Manual’s original publication and we are at a fundamentally different time than we were in 1972 when sewage, rendering wastes, and countless industrial chemicals were often dumped directly into rivers.

“This ‘Owner’s Manual’ is our guide to personal involvement in the most important decisions about our rivers, streams, wetlands, lakes and estuaries.”

– President Jimmy Carter

While those issues have been directly addressed through the Act, there is a need to defend our waters against present-day threats of environmental injustices, climate change, and more. This updated Manual provides fundamental tools for interpreting and applying the Act, and highlights the challenges of our time and strategies for action.

The Clean Water Act in the News

The Act, like any law, is subject to change. Check this space often for timely updates on any amendments, court cases, and updates to the Act that may not otherwise be reflected in the Owner’s Manual.

Featured Communities

In an effort to bring the detailed and technical components of the CWA to life, we share five community stories throughout the Manual. Below, dive into longer versions of these stories to get the full picture of their work and how you might replicate their successes for your own waters.

Communities for Clean Water, New Mexico – learn how Communities for Clean Water is utilizing the tools of the Clean Water Act to call out violations, enforce pollution controls, push for appropriate water quality standards, and more.

More Examples of Solving Problems in Your Watershed

In addition to the Problems and Strategies for Action section in the Owner’s Manual, here are stories and actions from the 2nd Edition of the Manual that are still relevant today.