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23 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 461 (1989-1990)
Agriculture, Nonpoint Source Pollution, and Federal Law

handle is hein.journals/davlr23 and id is 471 raw text is: Agriculture, Nonpoint Source Pollution,
and Federal Law
George A. Gould*
INTRODUCTION
Along with an incredible abundance of food, American agriculture
produces alarming amounts of water pollution. This problem is not
new. Writing in 1970, Professor William Hines of the University of
Iowa College of Law chronicled the problem of agricultural pollution.'
Similarly, Congress identified water pollution from agricultural activi-
ties as a significant problem when it enacted the Federal Water Pollu-
tion Control Act Amendments of 1972. Section 208 of the Amendments
makes specific reference to agriculturally . . . related . . . sources of
pollution.'2 The Senate Report accompanying the Amendments notes
that [a]griculture is now one of the major contributors to the degrada-
tion of the quality of our navigable water.3 Nevertheless, unlike pollu-
tion from many other industries, agricultural water pollution remains
largely unregulated and unchecked.
The lack of progress in reducing agricultural water pollution results
from the regulatory structure established in the 1972 Amendments.
The 1972 Amendments, which initiated the first serious attempt to ad-
dress the nation's water pollution problems, focused primarily on
point source pollution.'4 To address point source pollution, the 1972
Amendments established the National Pollution Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES), which applies technology-derived effluent limita-
* Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law.
Hines, Agriculture: The Unseen Foe in the War on Pollution, 55 CORNELL L.
REV. 740 (1970).
2 Pub. L. No. 92-500, § 208(b)(2)(F), 86 Stat. 816, 841 (codified as amended at 33
U.S.C. § 1288(b)(2)(F) (1982)).
3 S. REP. No. 414, 92d Cong., 1st Sess. 15, reprinted in 1972 U.S. CODE CONG. &
ADMIN. NEWS 3668, 3682; see also id. at 39, reprinted in 1972 U.S. CODE CONG. &
ADMIN. NEWS at 3705.
In general, point source pollution comes from a discrete source, such as a pipe,
while nonpoint source pollution comes from more dispersed sources. For more dis-
cussion on this distinction, see infra notes 81-101 and accompanying text.

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