New Clean Water Act Ruling
In 1972, the Clean Water Act (CWA) was amended to make it unlawful to discharge any pollutant directly from a point source into navigable waters unless a permit was obtained. Last month, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that discharge of pollutants indirectly introduced to navigable bodies of water should also be subject to the same CWA regulations to meet water quality criteria. The ruling was made against the County of Maui’s Wastewater Reclamation Facility in Hawaii, but it will likely have national implications. Individual states and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may now have permitting authority when there is the functional equivalent of direct discharge. Factors that will be considered for permitting purposes will include time, distance, the material through which the discharge travels, and what chemical transformations take place during transit.