In 1972, the federal Clean Water Act was passed with the intent of regulating the impacts of increased development. As a result, new rules were established to maintain water quality and reduce the discharge of pollutants to water bodies such as the as lagoon. This also led to the creation of regional water management districts. The Clean Water Act led to other modern environmental protection regulations at federal and state levels. The 1970s brought other regulations such as the Coastal Zone Management Act, to manage coastal development, and the Development of Regional Impact program to address state and regional interests in any development that would substantially impact the area in more than one county.
Leading up through the 1990s, Florida established several land acquisition programs to protect water resources. These programs, along with other legislation such as the Aquatic Preserves Act, which set aside forever state-owned submersed lands to be kept in the natural condition, and the Endangered Species Act, were the first attempts at protecting the natural habitats in Florida as well as the plants and animals within those habitats. Other attempts were made to protect the environment, such as the urban stormwater management programs for new development, which aimed at controlling the discharge of nutrients, sediments, and metals into the lagoon.