Criminal sanctions for agricultural violations of the Clean Water Act

Dennis C. Cory, Anna Rita Germani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Public enforcement of the Clean Water Act (CWA) has been characterized by the increased use of criminal sanctions over the past decade. This sanctioning trend has developed in direct response to the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) as part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. New sentencing guidelines were established in 1987 under which courts were required to impose sentences which reflect the seriousness of the offense, provide just punishment for the offense, and afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct. Legal trends are documented for both industrial and agricultural violations as a result of applying the new federal sentencing guidelines to CWA cases. The efficiency implications of the SRA are evaluated in the context of a model of the public enforcement of environmental law. It is concluded that fault-based standards of liability and the use of mixed fine/incarceration sanctions are appropriate for agricultural violations of the CWA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-514
Number of pages24
JournalWater Policy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Criminal sanctions
  • Enforcement
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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