The Clean Water Act is the fundamental national legislation enacted to make it illegal to discharge pollution into waterbodies. Citizens and citizen groups can file suit under the clean water act to compel polluters to cease their polluting activities.
The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, is where the requirement that certain project issue Environmental Impact Statements comes from. It requires environmental review of proposed actions of federal agencies.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System – regulates discharge of storm water pollutants to waters of the United States. These are the basis for local stormwater regulations – local jurisdictions must obtain an NPDES permit from the Department of Ecology which specifies how they handle stormwater. See link (in heading) for summary of regulations and how implemented in Snohomish County.
The State Environmental Policy Act, or SEPA, provides a way to identify possible environmental impacts from government actions, such as issuing a development permit. Development projects must pass a SEPA review before permits are issued. This is another way in which citizens and citizen groups can seek to eliminate or reduce environmental impacts of a proposed project, by getting involved at the SEPA review phase.
Comprehensive Plans are local land use plans which determine land use policy for a local jurisdiction. They establish land use rules for local cities and county agencies. This is another level of regulation which development projects have to pass. Some examples: