Water quality depends upon well-defined water quality standards and criteria, consistent and well-constructed monitoring and evaluation programs, and a legal framework that produces effective incentives to control public and private activities that may result in water pollution and the degradation of aquatic habitat.
Featured Areas of Expertise and Resources:
- Non-Point Source Pollution Research: ELI studies ways to address non-point sources of water pollution, primarily through innovative uses of state and local laws, and examination of synergies among cost-sharing, technical assistance, enforcement, and liability.
- CWA 303(d) Program Resource Center: ELI promotes effective implementation of the CWA by providing training workshops, reports on innovations in CWA 303(d) Program execution, and a library of resources that assist states, tribes, and territories in the listing of impaired waters and development and implementation of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs).
- Sustainable Water and Sewer Infrastructure: ELI examines the relationship between infrastructure for water, sewer, and stormwater management, and finance and development decisions. ELI also considers the benefits of green infrastructure stormwater management approaches relative to conventional grey infrastructure. Including green infrastructure in capital planning for complete streets is an important implementation tool.
- Watershed Policy and Management: ELI examines federal, state, and local measures to protect water resources and assure their availability for use while maintaining ecological and hydrological integrity of watersheds, estuaries, basins, and groundwater systems. ELI's Sustainable Use of Land in the Chesapeake Bay Program also works to promote new tools that support smart growth and reinvestment across the Bay states.
- Clean Water Act Jurisdiction: ELI works to support protection for wetlands and waters no longer protected by the federal Clean Water Act in the wake of two pivotal Supreme Court decisions. ELI's Clean Water Act Jurisdictional Handbook (2007, updated and revised 2012) is the comprehensive resource for applying science and law to this tangled jurisdictional problem, and Anchoring the Clean Water Act: Congress's Constitutional Sources of Power to Protect the Nation's Waters (2007) identifies which constitutional powers Congress can rely on to protect water, and explains what the Supreme Court has said about these powers.
- Strengthening National, Regional, and State Invasive Species Policy: In The Role of Aquatic Invasive Species in State Listing of Impaired Waters and the TMDL Program: Seven Case Studies (2008), ELI examines how seven states representing a range of geography, number of aquatic invasive species, water quality standards, Section 303(d) listings for invasive species, and aquatic invasive species management programs have addressed the effects of invasive species on the waters of their respective states through the federal Clean Water Act.