Articles on Water Quality

 

Guiding Us Through the Waters of the United States: New Guidelines Proposed Clarifying What Waters are Protected by Clean Water Act

Water Quality

WaterfallOn May 2, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers formally proposed new guidelines for determining which waters and wetlands are “waters of the United States” and are, therefore, protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

According to the notice, jointly published in the Federal Register, the new guidelines will provide clarity and predictability regarding the scope of the “waters of the United States.” The agencies saw this as needed since the waters have become somewhat murky (terrible pun, I know…) after the Supreme Court’s decisions in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC) in 2001 and Rapanos v. United States in 2006.

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Sorry Sixth Circuit – You Just Got Housed: House passes a bill taking pesticides out of CWA’s jurisdiction

Water Quality

CongressOn Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) known as the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011 (or H.R. 872). The bill would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) such that CWA permits, known as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits (or NPDES permits), would not be required when a pesticide is applied to or near a navigable waterway in accordance with its FIFRA label.

Essentially, the bill takes pesticides out of the definition of pollutant such that these permits are not mandated.
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Can Construction Site Webcams Be Far Behind?

Water Quality

New Construction Water Quality Regulations Impose Tough Numeric Limits And Internet Reporting Requirements

The State Water Resources Control Board (“State Water Board”) recently adopted toughened standards for water flows generated by construction sites under a new statewide storm water construction general permit, Water at Construction Siteeffective July 1, 2010. The new permit (the “2010 Permit”) replaces the storm water construction general permit in place since 1999 (the “1999 Permit”) and imposes heightened requirements for managing water during construction. The 2010 Permit applies to construction sites of at least one acre and smaller sites that are part of a common development plan.

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EPA Holds Hearings on Hydraulic Fracturing

Water Quality

Hydraulic FracturingAs part of a broad investigation into the practice of pressurized injection of water, sand, and chemicals to extract natural gas from shale, known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held several public hearings this week in Binghamton, New York. Hydraulic fracturing operates by the pressure of the injected materials exceeding the rock strength and the fluid then opening or enlarging fractures in the rock. As the formation is fractured, a “propping agent,” such as sand or ceramic beads, is pumped into the fractures to keep them from closing as the pumping pressure is released.

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EPA Takes Steps Under The Clean Water Act to Protect California’s Coastline

Water Quality

On August 25, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the nation’s largest coastal “No Discharge Zone,” covering California’s entire 1,624 miles of coastline. Pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act, states may request EPA to establish vessel no-discharge zones to protect and restore water quality. Non-sewage discharge from vessels is regulated under state law. Acting pursuant to California’s Clean Coast Act of 2005, the State Water Resources Control Board requested EPA to adopt the protective zone.
San Francisco Cruise Ship

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There’s a “Canary” in My Water – EPA Software Detects Hazardous Contaminants in Drinking Water Systems

Water Quality

CanaryBringing to mind the old adage “canary in a coalmine,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced this week its innovative water quality software aptly named “Canary.” Developed by EPA scientists in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE), the Canary software can help detect chemical and biological contaminants including pesticides, metals and pathogens in drinking water.

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What’s Coming Down the River – How EPA’s Designation of the Los Angeles River as a “Navigable Waterway” May Impact Future Development

Water Quality

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the entire 51-mile, concrete lined Los Angeles River a “traditional navigable water,” under the Clean Water Act on Wednesday. Although it may be hard to picture the Los Angeles River as a navigable waterway on par with the mighty Mississippi, EPA made the designation based “on a myriad of factors including the river’s current and historical navigation by water craft, current commercial and recreation uses, and established local plans for restoration of the river.” The designation clarifies the Los Angeles River’s legal status
under the Clean Water Act and strengthens the protection to the small streams and wetlands that make up the 834-square mile Los Angeles River watershed. It also helps ensure the health and safety of those who use the river. While many Angelenos have reason to applaud this designation, it may make it more costly and difficult to develop along the river because developers will have to comply with the Clean Water Act.Los Angeles River

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Coastal Senators Seek Increased Liability for Oil Spills

Water Quality

In the wake of the massive Gulf Coast oil spill, three coastal Senators have introduced legislation entitled the “Big Oil Bailout Prevention Act.” The bill was introduced on May 3, 2010 by Senators Robert Menendez (D – NJ), Frank Lautenberg (D – NJ), and Bill Nelson (D – FL).
Under the current law, the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, liability for economic damages, such as lost business revenues from fishing and tourism, resulting from an oil spill is capped at $75 million, although unlimited damages are available in certain situations, such as a finding that the operator was grossly negligent or violated federal laws or regulations. Once that cap is reached, claimants can seek reimbursement from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, which was created through a tax on produced and imported oil.
Gulf of Mexico Oil Leak

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