Clean Water Act Discharge of Pollutants

The Clean Water Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1972 to reduce levels of toxic substances in the nation's water supply and to prevent high levels of new contamination.  The CWA seeks to... more +
The Clean Water Act is a United States federal statute enacted in 1972 to reduce levels of toxic substances in the nation's water supply and to prevent high levels of new contamination.  The CWA seeks to accomplish its stated goals by preventing point and nonpoint pollution sources, assisting wastewater treatment facilities and maintaining wetlands. less -
News & Analysis as of

U.S. Fifth Circuit: The CWA and OPA Preempt State Law Claims for Pollution Incidents on the OCS

Offshore exploration in the Gulf of Mexico implicates maritime law, federal law, and the different laws of five coastal states. The manner in which these different substantive laws interact is often a critical, but unclear,...more

Coal Companies, Don’t Look Behind; EPA May Be Gaining on You

As the lawyers among our readers know, the denial of a certiorari petition does not establish precedent. However, that doesn’t make it unimportant. Yesterday, the Supreme Court denied cert. in Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. EPA. ...more

Flood Of Decisions Washes Away EPA Permits On Stormwater

It has been more than 40 years since Congress created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") as part of the 1972 Clean Water Act. Yet, confusion remains and disputes continue about which activities and...more

Do You Need To Permit Your Stormwater Discharge?

It has been more than 40 years since Congress created the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) in the 1972 Clean Water Act. Yet, confusion remains about which activities and discharges actually require...more

Hernshaw Decision Could Have Impacts Beyond Coal Industry - Court Allows Citizens Suit to Proceed Based On Lingering Effects from...

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has issued a number of decisions in the last several years touching upon the outer contours of jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act’s citizen suits...more

Ninth Circuit’s Fanciful Interpretation of the Clean Water Act Ripe for another Reversal?

Shortly after admonishing the Ninth Circuit for its strained interpretation of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), the Supreme Court may be asked to repeat itself. On January 8, 2013, in Los Angeles County Flood Control District v....more

EPA Enters into the 21st Century with New Clean Water Act Reporting Requirements

Clean Water Act Discharge Permits to go Electronic - Since the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements were first adopted by EPA back in 1972, the program has undergone significant...more

What Is the Burden In Proving a Violation of a Stormwater Permit? If It Walks Like a Stormwater Discharge …

Those of us who do NPDES work know that enforcement, including citizen enforcement, against industrial point sources can often be all to straightforward. The plaintiff marches into court with a pile of the defendant’s...more

Ninth Circuit Reverses Prior Ruling: Pollution Levels In Monitoring Data Are Sufficient To Hold County Liable For Storm Water...

Urban storm water runoff has been recognized as one of the most significant sources of water pollution in the country. ...more

The Permit Shield Defense: No Shield Absent Full Disclosure

The Clean Water Act permit shield provision provides that compliance with an NPDES permit constitutes compliance with the CWA. What happens the permit does not mention a particular pollutant? In Southern Appalachian...more

Environmental Groups Seek to Impose Selenium Treatment Obligations on Property Owners

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and Sierra Club have filed five (5) lawsuits in the last two months in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, alleging...more

Supreme Court Upholds EPA's Logging Road Exception from Clean Water Act NPDES Permitting

On March 20, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center that addresses the issue of "whether the Clean Water Act and its implementing regulations require permits before...more

EPA Revises Effluent Guidelines and Standards for Construction and Development

On April 1, 2013, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed changes to the Effluent Limitations Guidelines and Standards for the Construction and Development Point Source Category (the Proposed Rule)...more

Ninth Circuit Rules That Storm Water Runoff From Utility Poles Is Not A “Point Source” Discharge Under The Clean Water Act Or A...

An environmental group argued that rain water washing over utility poles and carrying wood preservatives used to treat the poles into Bay Area waterways violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Resource Conservation and...more

Supreme Court Reverses 9th Circuit on Logging Roads, Deferring to EPA on Its Industrial Stormwater Rule

On March 20, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 7-1 decision that Clean Water Act permits are not required for stormwater runoff from logging roads. The decision in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center defers...more

No Permit Required For Timber Harvesting

The U. S. Supreme Court’s March 20, 2013, decision in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center is good news for the logging industry. The Clean Water Act (Act) and EPA’s Silvicultural Rule (Regulation) do not require...more

U.S. Supreme Court: NPDES Permits Are Not Required For Logging Road Stormwater Runoff

The U.S. Supreme Court has reversed a 2010 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision and reaffirmed that a federal Clean Water Act National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) point source discharge permit is not...more

Logging Roads Get A Pass – At Least For Now

Yesterday, in a 7-1 decision with Justice Scalia the lone dissenter, the U.S. Supreme Court handed a major victory to the forest products industry. As it does so often, the Court reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that had...more

When Do Air Emissions Constitute a Discharge to Waters of the United States? Any Time the Emissions Reach Waters of the United...

In a fascinating post today, my colleague from the American College of Environmental Lawyers, Patricia Finn Braddock, reported on a case at the intersection of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act that could have...more

The Supreme Court Reverses the 9th Circuit and Reaffirms Its Earlier Interpretation of ‘Discharge’ Under the Clean Water Act

On January 8, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously in L.A. County Flood Control District v. NRDC that the flow of polluted stormwater from an improved portion of a navigable waterway into an unimproved portion of...more

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Effort To Hold Stormwater Permit Holder Liable For Condition Of Waters Passing Through

The United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous ruling, has acted to limit a potential liability of municipalities and other stormwater permit holders with respect to the condition of waters entering and passing through their...more

Flood Control District Wins Dispute Over Discharge Of Storm Water That Flows Through Improved Portions Of Navigable Waterways

In its most recent foray into the meaning of the Clean Water Act, the Supreme Court has answered the fundamental question: “Does a ‘discharge of pollutants’ occur when polluted water flows from one portion of a river that is...more

U.S. Supreme Court Issues Clean Water Act Opinion

On January 8, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals, held that “the flow of water from an improved portion of a navigable waterway into an unimproved portion of the...more

Supreme Court Offers Comfort To Owners Of Dams And Water Control Facilities

In a ruling that has important implications for the hydropower industry, municipal water control systems, and dam owners everywhere, the U.S. Supreme Court strongly affirmed an earlier holding that a "discharge of a...more

Conveyance of Polluted Water Within River Involves No 'Discharge' Under Clean Water Act

The flow of polluted water from a concrete-lined portion of a river into a downstream portion of the same river does not involve a “discharge” for purposes of the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) and thus involves no CWA violation,...more

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