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Federal Laws Protecting Groundwater

Daryl Buchholz
Department of Agronomy

Several key laws protect the quality of groundwater. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sees that these laws are followed. The EPA assigns different responsibilities to other state agencies and distributes federal funds to carry them out. The main laws listed here are the responsibility of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Safe Drinking Water Act

  • Sets primary and secondary drinking water standards.
  • Regulates well-injection of liquids and liquid wastes into the ground.
  • Establishes monitoring and reporting requirements for drinking water.
  • Establishes a wellhead protection program.

The Clean Water Act

  • Sets Water Quality Standards for all bodies of surface water.
  • Limits the amount of industrial wastes that can be discharged into rivers, lakes and streams.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act — RCRA

  • Regulates the generation, storage, transport, treatment and storage of hazardous wastes.
  • Gives the EPA power to protect all groundwater sources from hazardous waste.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act — CERCLA

Better known as the "SuperFund," this act cleans up existing hazardous waste sites that pose a threat to surface water or groundwater, or other sources.

Toxic Substances Control Act — TSCA

Indirectly protects groundwater by regulating handling and disposal practices.

Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act — FIFRA

This act is enforced by the Department of Agriculture. It:

  • Establishes procedures for classifying, registering, monitoring and disposing of pesticides.
  • Ensures that commercial and private applicators of pesticides are trained and licensed.
This publication was written by Karen DeFelice, former associate extension agronomist; Nyle Wollenhaupt, former state extension agronomist; and Daryl Buchholz, state extension agronomist. This material is based upon work supported by the United States Department of Agriculture, Extension Service, under special project number 89-EWQI-1-9203.

WQ22 Federal Laws Protecting Groundwater | University of Missouri Extension