Clean Water Act Supreme Court of the United States

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

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

“Waters of the U.S.” — What’s Not To Understand?

EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers continue their ongoing effort to bring clarity to the tangled mess wrought by the Supreme Court in Rapanos v. U. S. In that 2006 case, a fractured Court issued five separate opinions on the...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

Recent U.S. Supreme Court Decisions Impacting Environmental and Regulatory Law

The recent term of the United States Supreme Court featured several rulings on environmental and other regulatory issues. This update highlights the major environmental decisions this term, as well as some of the issues the...more

Environmental Law Alert - June 2013: Environmental Cases Decided by the Supreme Court During its Recent Term

Although the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the Voting Rights Act, affirmative action, and gay marriage earned most of the attention during the 2012-2013 term, a number of significant decisions with regard to...more

Supreme Court Willing to Reconsider Deference to Administrative Agencies

Most of the federal government's authority is exercised, on a day-to-day basis, through its administrative agencies. Central to the efficiency of those agencies — such as it is — is the judiciary's substantial deference to...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

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

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - March 22, 2013

In This Issue: Environmental and Policy Focus - U.S. top court rules for timber industry over road runoff; U.S. Supreme Court grants review of plan by forest service to manage Sierra Nevada; Federal Appeals Court...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

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

California Environmental Law and Policy Update - January 10, 2013

In This Issue: Environmental and Policy Focus - Supreme Court rejects Ninth Circuit ruling on County of L.A. storm water discharges; Federal judge halts major Lake Tahoe ski resort expansion; Lawsuit seeks to stop Rose...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

U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirms Settled Precedent for Regulating Transfers of Water Through Stormwater Systems and Other Water...

On January 8, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a judgment of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that would have had vast consequences for stormwater systems and other water infrastructure...more

Supreme Court Decision Good News for Dam Owners

On Jan. 8, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that flow from an improved portion of a waterway into an unimproved portion of the same waterway — even if polluted — does not qualify as “discharge of pollutants”...more

Supreme Court Reverses Ninth Circuit: Absent a "Discharge of a Pollutant" Receiving Water Exceedances are not a Violation of Clean...

On January 8, 2013, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which had found that the owner and operator of a storm drain system and permittee under a federal Clean Water Act (CWA) Section...more

Dog Bites Man: Supreme Court Edition

In a curious, but unsurprising, decision yesterday, in Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. NRDC, the Supreme Court held that the flow of water containing pollutants from part of a river that has been culverted into a...more

Supreme Court Hears Arguments In Clean Water Act Case

The Supreme Court had oral arguments last Monday (December 3) in Decker v. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, just after EPA the previous Friday (November 30) surprisingly issued a new rule clarifying that a NPDES permit...more

Swimming Upstream: 9th Circuit CWA Cases Heading To SCOTUS

Originally published in Law360, New York on August 17, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review two U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Clean Water Act (CWA) cases. Both cases involve the extent to which...more

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