Municipal Water Leader
  • Water Law

    Preserving Federalism in Water Law By Robert S. Lynch

    Everyone involved in western water is keenly aware of the controversy surrounding clarifying the definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS) in the Clean Water Act regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received over 13,000 comments on its proposal to do so. Many are attacks on the proposal, which, in my view, have to be considered attacks on the concept of federalism. Those who oppose the clarification process the EPA is undertaking are essentially saying that the states are incompetent or unwilling to protect their citizens and the quality of the water they receive and use. It is my understanding that some 49 states have taken delegation…

  • Water Law

    Expedited Permitting to Save the Louisiana Coast A Case Study

    Louisiana’s vast coastal wetlands are unique in our nation and have been a great resource for the state’s residents and its diverse coastal wildlife. In recent times, however, it has become apparent that they are prized for something more important—safety. Coastal wetlands reduce the negative effects of storm surges that hit where people live, like New Orleans. Scientists estimate that a storm surge loses 1 foot of height for every mile of wetlands it crosses. We saw the effect of lost wetlands when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 with a much higher storm surge than would have occurred if Louisiana had not seen a substantial decline of its…

  • Photo of Maui, Hawaii coastline
    Water Law

    An Indirect Regulation of Groundwater A Look at Hawai'i Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui

    On February 1, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a highly anticipated decision in Hawai’i Wildlife Fund v. County of Maui, No. 15-17447 (9th Cir. Feb. 1, 2018). The court held that the County of Maui (County) is required to obtain a Clean Water Act (CWA) permit to dispose of recycled water via discharge into groundwater that is hydrologically connected to the ocean. The case has broad implications for water supply and wastewater treatment agencies across the West because it would require certain types discharges to groundwater to be regulated under the CWA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)—thereby importing all the CWA’s surface water–related…