Originally the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, the admended act was renamed The Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1977. The Act establishes controls on the discharged emission of pollutants into the water systems of the United States. The Act also called for the EPA to establish control programs, such as wastewater standards for industries. The creation of sewage treatment plants throughout the country were given funding through the Act under the construction grants program.

After 1977, the CWA was revised in 1981 to streamline the municipal construction grants process, improving the capabilities of treatment plants built under the program. Changes in 1987 phased out the construction grants program, replacing it with the State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, also known as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. This new funding strategy addressed water quality needs by building on EPA-State partnerships.

The Act is broken into six titles or subchapters that deal with various specifics of the regulation of water pollution

Title   I - Research and Related Programs 
Title  II - Grants for Construction of Treatment Works 
Title III - Standards and Enforcement 
Title  IV - Permits and Licenses 
Title   V - General Provisions 
Title  VI - State Water Pollution Control Revolving Funds