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

EPA Raises Statutory Civil Penalty Amounts

If the cost of doing business includes responding to and resolving periodic environmental and worker safety enforcement matters, the price goes up on August 1. The EPA is raising statutory civil penalty amounts for the many...more

Massachusetts Seeks Delegation of Clean Water Act Permitting Program

Massachusetts is known for its comprehensive and innovative environmental laws and regulations. One exception has been the administration of the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)...more

U.S. EPA’s Proposed Rule Would Modernize NPDES Regulations

Earlier this month, the United States EPA proposed a rule (“Proposed Rule”) that would update and revise National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) regulations. Rather than reopening the existing NPDES...more

Revised Permits for Small Municipal Stormwater Systems – Coming Soon to Massachusetts; New Hampshire Next in Line, with Maine Not...

Massachusetts - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 1, recently announced that in the next few weeks it will finalize a revised general permit for small municipal stormwater sewer systems (“MS4s”) in...more

Case Law Updates

Clean Water Act - In last month’s edition of Environmental Notes, we discussed the potential impact of two recent federal district court decisions finding that a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) could be...more

Ninth Circuit Holds no NPDES Permit Required for Klamath Straits Drain

In ONRC Action v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that the Bureau of Reclamation was not required to secure a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES")...more

From Playa Lakes To Prairie Potholes: Four Things Energy Companies Need to Know About the WOTUS Rule

Have one or several playa lakes on or near a well pad in the Permian Basin? An access road nearby an ephemeral tributary of the Green River in the Uintah Basin? A pipeline that traverses lands dotted with prairie potholes in...more

EPA’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL Survives Legal Challenge: Stricter Water Quality Regulation of Farms, Municipalities, Industry, and...

On July 6, 2015, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously rejected a challenge brought by agricultural and builder groups to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay...more

New Rule Clarifies Federal Government Authority to Regulate Certain Bodies of Water

The final Waters of the United States rule, jointly proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last spring, was signed on May 26, 2015, and aims to clarify the federal...more

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

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