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Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Category Archives: Water Law

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July 1 Deadline for General Industrial Stormwater Permits in California

Posted in California, Rulemakings, Water Law
Beginning July 1 of this year, there’s a new program in town!  A new general industrial stormwater permit kicks in in California. Companies with an existing stormwater permit will have to apply for a new permit, and prepare a new management plan—there is no grace period. Link to General Permit For Storm Water Discharges Associated… Continue Reading

California State Water Resources Control Board Finalizes Rules for Desalination Plants

Posted in California, Natural Resources, Rulemakings, Water Law
As the drought continues across California, the State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”) has adopted its first-ever requirements for desalination plants in the state. Desalination – a process of removing minerals from ocean water to produce fresh water for municipal uses – has not been widely used in California because it is expensive, energy-intensive, and… Continue Reading

Pacific Northwest Water Wars

Posted in Northwest, Water Law
It may come as a surprise that people fight over water in soggy Oregon and Washington.  To be sure, we have not experienced the same level of conflict over competing water needs as our neighbors in the southwest, but in fact the conflicts are there and the stakes are high. Most senior water rights in… Continue Reading

State of Alaska Continues Slow Progress in Adjudicating Instream Flow Water Rights

Posted in Northwest, Water Law
The State of Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continued its slow and steady progress to issue the first instream flow water right to a non-governmental organization with a February 18, 2015 notice requesting comments on an instream flow water right application by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition Inc. (Chuitna). Parties wishing to comment on the… Continue Reading

Science Advisory Board Finally Weighs In on Waters of the U.S.

Posted in EPA, Rulemakings, Water Law
The Science Advisory Board has at last released its peer review  of EPA’s draft report on Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis, the technical support for the proposed rule on definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.  The SAB paper is generally supportive of EPA’s… Continue Reading

California Groundwater Regulation Enters the 20th Century!

Posted in California, Water Law
On September 16, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a trio of bills to establish a statewide regulatory scheme for the use of groundwater: Assembly Bill 1739, and Senate Bills 1168 and 1319.  California had previously been the only Western state to leave “reasonable” use of groundwater to the tender mercies of individual pumpers… Continue Reading

ECOS Releases “Waters of the U.S.” Paper

Posted in EPA, Federal, Water Law
On September 15, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) released a paper produced by the American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL) on the new “waters of the U.S.” rules proposed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers.  The new rules are intended to bring clarity as to the jurisdictional reach of the federal government… Continue Reading

Alaska Department of Natural Resources Seeks Comment on Precedent-Setting Instream Flow Water Right

Posted in Water Law
Instream flow rights can be controversial among consumptive water users because they decrease the legally available supply of water for other uses that may arise in the future.  Conversely, instream flow rights are often championed by non-governmental and other entities seeking to protect environmental values supported by maintaining specific water levels in a given waterbody. … Continue Reading

Federal Agencies Extend Public Comment on Proposed Clean Water Act Rules

Posted in EPA, Federal, Water Law
Responding to numerous requests from stakeholders, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency will be accepting public comments for an additional three months on the agencies’ proposed definition of the scope of federal jurisdiction over the nation’s water bodies. The new deadline for public comments is October 20, 2014.  For more information… Continue Reading

Opposition Builds to Proposed Federal Clean Water Act Rules

Posted in EPA, Federal, Rulemakings, Water Law
Federal agencies face growing opposition from members of Congress and industry regarding a proposed definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The scope of federal jurisdiction under the CWA has been one of the most intractable issues in environmental law over the past decade. Recently proposed rules by the… Continue Reading

What’s It All About?

Posted in California, Federal, Litigation, Water Law
There are many lessons that one could take from the outcome of the seven year (and counting) litigation involving environmental groups and the operators of the Los Angeles County stormwater system. Certainly one lesson is to be careful what you ask for when you are drafting your stormwater permit – the Los Angeles County Flood… Continue Reading

Anticipating Washington State’s New Industrial Stormwater General Permit

Posted in Northwest, Rulemakings, Water Law
The Washington Department of Ecology is in the process of renewing the current Industrial Stormwater General Permit (ISGP), which is set to expire on January 1, 2015.  Current permit holders will need to reapply for continued coverage by July 1, 2014.  The 2015 version of the ISGP will mean little or minor changes for some… Continue Reading

Square Pegs in Round Holes

Posted in Federal, Natural Resources, Water Law
The Western states face two reciprocating and overarching problems in water resources policy.  First, water is an increasingly scarce resource facing sharply competitive needs.  Climate change is projected to put even more strain on water supplies.  Second, most streams listed as water-quality impaired in the West are designated as such for issues related to the… Continue Reading

Ecology to hold public meetings on updates to human health criteria in Washington’s water quality standards

Posted in Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Water Law
On September 12 and 16, 2013, Ecology will hold public meetings at its headquarters in Lacey, Washington regarding its rulemaking to update Washington’s surface water quality standards.  The rule making will set new human health criteria and implement regulatory tools to help dischargers comply with water quality standards. … Continue Reading

Those Dam Polluters!

Posted in Electric Power, Environmental Quality, Health and Safety, Natural Resources, Northwest, Oil & Gas, Water Law
The Columbia and Snake River federal network of dams, and the abundance of low cost electricity it produces, has long been the cornerstone of the Pacific Northwest manufacturing economy.  It has also supported another industry—the legions of lawyers fighting over the environmental effects.  The latest iteration is an attack brought by Columbia Riverkeepers against the… Continue Reading

Sooners Beat Longhorns in Red River Bowl

Posted in Water Law
In a unanimous decision issued June 13, the Supreme Court put an end to a parched Texas municipal utility’s bid to secure an Oklahoma water right.  In Tarrant Regional Water District v. Herrmann, the Court rejected every argument Tarrant advanced to access Red River basin water on the Oklahoma side. The fabled college football rivalry… Continue Reading

BLM Revises Proposed Rule on Hydraulic Fracturing

Posted in Environmental Quality, Federal, Health and Safety, Land Use, Natural Resources, Oil & Gas, Water Law
A recent advisory from DWT partners Glenn Benson and Barbara Jost: On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) issued a revised proposed rule regarding hydraulic fracturing on federal and Indian lands for oil and gas production. In response to the more than 177,000 public comments submitted in… Continue Reading

Do We Really Have A Section 404 Permit?

Posted in EPA, Federal, Water Law
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion on April 23 in Mingo Logan Coal Co. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency upholding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) invalidation of a discharge permit issued four years prior by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“USACE”).  The decision effectively… Continue Reading

City of Seattle and King County Agree to Major Upgrades to Settle Discharge Violations

Posted in Environmental Quality, EPA, Northwest, Water Law
To settle an enforcement action by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the State of Washington (“State”), King County and the City of Seattle have agreed to complete major upgrades to their local sewage and combined stormwater collection, piping and treatment systems to address allegedly illegal discharges.  In addition, the County and City have… Continue Reading

Can We Please Talk About Outcomes for a Change???

Posted in EPA, Water Law
I get it that environmental groups place strict compliance with regulatory controls at a premium.  After all, the standards are designed to be protective of the resource, and they are The Law, which must be obeyed. But I sometimes find it dismaying when people conflate immediate, measured and guaranteed compliance with ecological outcomes.  They are… Continue Reading