Maui Case on Clean Water Act Permits Could Be Headed to U.S. Supreme Court

A federal appeals court denied the Hawaiian island of Maui’s request that the court reconsider a recent ruling on discharges to groundwater. A wastewater treatment plant in Maui was found in violation of the Clean Water Act for discharges of wastewater reaching the Pacific Ocean via groundwater.

The high-profile case represents one of the first legal examinations of the “conduit theory” where surface water is polluted through hydrologically connected conduits.

Maui is planning to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

The legal decision comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking comments on surface water pollution via hydrologically connected resources. NGWA is working with a group of volunteers to prepare comments for the EPA.

The decision by the federal appeals court to not reconsider the case sets up a race between the EPA and the Supreme Court to decide on if, and how, conduit theory applies to the Clean Water Act. Such a decision could impact water policy nationwide.

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