Nonpoint source pollution continues to frustrate the Clean Water Act's (CWA) promise of restoring and maintaining the integrity of our nation's waterways. Although programs exist within the CWA to assist states with abating nonpoint source pollution, these programs have not prevented nonpoint source pollution, or polluted runoff, from contributing an increasing load of pollutants to our rivers, lakes and streams. Recent case law has expanded the power of states, and in certain circumstances, citizens, to use the CWA to place restrictions on certain activities that are likely to damage water quality. However, the legal, social, and political limitations, both exerted on the case law and the CWA generally, will limit the practical further use of the CWA to stop nonpoint source pollution. Thus, another strategy is needed. Massachusetts has instituted a watershed-based resource management plan called the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative (MWI). The MWI promises to redefine environmental resource protection by involving local stakeholders in setting priorities for protecting local resources. By limiting the use of "command and control" regulation, and by focusing on the watershed as the relevant environmental entity, the MWI offers an alternative to traditional statutory attempts to control nonpoint source pollution.
Scott D. Anderson,
Watershed Management and Nonpoint Source Pollution: The Massachusetts Approach,
B.C. Envtl. Aff. L. Rev.