On September 24, 2018, in two separate decisions, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that coal ash wastewater that enters groundwater and eventually travels to navigable waters through the groundwater is not regulated under the Clean Water Act (“CWA,” or the “Act”).  In these decisions, the Sixth Circuit expressly disagrees with recent holdings from the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, paving the way for potential Supreme Court review.

The CWA requires a permit for discharge of pollutants into navigable waters.  33 U.S.C. §§ 1251 et seq.  At issue in both Sixth Circuit cases is whether the CWA extends to regulate indirect discharge into a navigable water, through groundwater.  Rejecting the “hydrological connection” theory, the Sixth Circuit found that groundwater is not subject to regulation under the CWA because it is not a point source.  Therefore, the discharge of pollutants into groundwater, and subsequent travel to a navigable water, also does not fall within the scope of the CWA.Continue Reading Sixth Circuit Limits Scope of CWA, Breaking with Fourth and Ninth Circuits

Environmental groups have obtained a favorable Clean Water Act (“CWA”) ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, which can be viewed as an expansion of jurisdiction for stormwater permitting for industrial sources.  In the Order, issued on August 9, 2018, Judge Stephen V. Wilson held that if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) determines that stormwater discharges “cause or contribute to violations of water quality standards,” then regulators must limit such stormwater discharges under the mandates of the CWA.  EPA is required to regulate stormwater discharges through the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) permitting scheme, and does not have discretion to address the pollution through other methods.
Continue Reading Court Finds that Privately-Owned Industrial Stormwater Discharges Require Clean Water Act Permits

Today, the State Water Resources Control Board released the final draft of the Statewide General National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) Permit for the Discharge of Storm Water Associated with Industrial Activities (“Industrial General Permit” or “Permit”).  The long-awaited third revised draft of the Industrial General Permit comes after two previous iterations of the draft

When polluted storm water flows from a concrete-lined river channel to an unlined portion of the same river, does that movement of water constitute a “discharge of pollutants” under the Clean Water Act?

Answering “no” in a short five-page opinion, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in its recent decision, Los

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Reportedly, Executive Officer, Pamela Creedon of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley has approved a Draft Revised Monitoring and Reporting Program (Draft) for dairies under the current General Order (PDF).  The Draft requirement includes changes that clarify when certain activities take place, including inspections of the production area, visual inspections of stormwater