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

Court of Appeal Sinks Challenge to TMDL for Lake Bed Sediment

A Court of Appeal has upheld the Regional Board’s adoption of the total maximum daily load (TMDL) for concentration of pollutants in the sediment in McGrath Lake, rejecting the claim that TMDLs may not be stated in terms of...more

Minimizing Risk Under the Clean Water Act

The Federal Water Pollution Control Act — more commonly known as the Clean Water Act — establishes a stringent regulatory and permitting regime governing the discharge of pollutants into rivers, streams, wetlands, and other...more

Storm Water Update

We recently informed our clients that there has been an apparent uptick in recent months of citizens suits against storm water permittees for alleged storm water violations under the Clean Water Act. According to a recent...more

General Permit Shields Mining Company from Liability for Selenium Discharge

In Sierra Club v ICG Hazard , LLC, 2015 WL 643382, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held that a Kentucky coal mining company could not be sued by an environmental group for discharging selenium into...more

Beware of Citizen Suits for Storm Water Violations

In recent months several private organizations have sent letters to California businesses informing them that they are in violation of their storm water permits and threatening to sue them under the citizen suit provision of...more

A Federal Court Rules that Increased Conductivity Impairs a Stream — How Shocking!

On Tuesday, Chief Judge Robert Chambers ruled that Fola Coal Company violated the Clean Water Act by discharging mine waste with sufficiently high levels of conductivity to cause or materially contribute to impairment of...more

EPA Draft Ruling Could Mean Significant Changes to How Stormwater Systems are Categorized

The last thing that public agency leaders want to hear is that looming changes may make operating and building new public infrastructure more challenging and expensive. Unfortunately, proposed changes by the Environmental...more

In BP Gulf Oil Spill Litigation, the District Court Decided Important Legal Questions that will Likely be Appealed, including the...

On September 4, 2014, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier issued findings of fact and conclusions of law for the trial of the MDL of the Gulf Oil Spill, which included findings that the oil spill was the result of BP Exploration...more

NPDES Permits Are Construed Narrowly Against the Permittee

In July, we noted that the Clean Water Act’s permit shield defense would be construed narrowly, applying only where a permittee had clearly disclosed that the relevant pollutant to the agency. This week, in Alaska Community...more

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

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

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

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

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