Abstract The basic authority for federal enforcement in water pollution is the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (P.L. 84-660, as amended, 33 USC, Sec. 1151-1175). The Environmental Protection Agency has been charged with the administration and enforcement of this act, which declares the policy of Congress “to recognize, preserve and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of the states in preventing and controlling water pollution.”
By use of three enforcement tools-the “Enforcement Conference,” the “180-Day Notice,” and the “Permit Program”-the EPA is to see that water pollution is prevented and controlled. Although these statutory authorities apply to surface waters, the Federal Water Quality Ad-ministration, EPA's predecessor, recognized the increasing use of the subsurface for disposal and storage of liquid wastes and thus announced a policy on disposal of wastes by subsurface injection. The EPA has followed the FWQA policy but has required clear demonstration that subsurface disposal of wastes will not interfere with present or potential use of subsurface water supplies and/or will not contaminate interconnected surface waters or otherwise damage the environment.
The President, by E.O. 11574, ordered the implementation of the Refuse Act Permit Program, under the authority of the 1899 Refuse Act. This act prohibits putting almost anything, by any means, into a navigable water or its tributaries.
The enforcement tools of EPA initially will be used to focus on the most serious cases of pollution. However, it appears obvious that substantial changes will take place in the near future. The Senate has passed the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendment of 1971, which calls for the elimination of the discharge of all pollutants by 1985. The states are given the prime responsibility for achieving this goal, but the bill grants EPA broad powers regarding enforcement if the state
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This publication consists of papers based on oral presentations at a symposium of the same name co-sponsored by the United States Geological Survey and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. A wide range of technical issues are covered, as well as regulatory and liability concerns. Documentation of two areas in Colorado where earthquakes had resulted from subsurface fluid injection set the stage for modern debates regarding possible similar results elsewhere. A wide range of fluid compositions are subject to subsurface waste disposal. The largest volumes are brines separated during the production of oil and gas wells, but acid-water and industrial wastes of all types can be disposed in significant quantities in local areas. Large hydraulic fracture treatments never recover all of the injected fluids, and the chemical additives in the fluid that remains underground can be a concern. The subsurface injection of radioactive waste is a topic for three of the papers. The possible need for sequestration of carbon dioxide was not a significant concern at the time and was not covered, but many of the papers provide insight into the issues related to modern proposals. When fluids are injected under pressure into subsurface aquifers, they interact in numerous ways. The fluids can potentially migrate for long distances and potentially interfere with other uses for the native aquifer fluids. If the aquifer cannot transport all of the fluids away, the buildup in pressure can cause fracturing of the rock. Differences in composition between the injected and native fluids can cause chemical reactions to occur; in some cases these can be desirable in that they can immobilize certain solutes in mineral form. The long-term environmental consequences are a common theme in many of the papers because of the recognition that the disposed fluids would become a permanent fixture in subsurface aquifers and could have long-term consequences for their future utilization.