The federal government issued its long-awaited "Waters of the United States," or WOTUS, definition yesterday, extending federal authority to California's vernal pools and other naturally forming pockets of water. However, the new rule does not regulate groundwater nor many subsurface flows and states it will maintain existing provisions for stormwater systems and some ditches.
However, business and Congressional opposition to the rule remains fierce. The Association of California Water Agencies expressed disappointment with the rule, saying "ACWA remains concerned that the final rule is too broad and our requests that water conveyance systems and water infrastructure adjacent to 'navigable waters' be excluded from the proposed rule was not met."
Developers and local officials as well as agricultural and industrial businesses had sought to limit the "Waters of the United States" definition for fear it might impose Clean Water Act permitting processes on construction and water management proposals that had hitherto required only local approvals. The rule does make concessions to concerns from business, real estate and rural local governments that existing drainage systems and permit exemptions might be disrupted. California voices were very much included in this pattern, and many California local governments expressed anxiety about their stormwater discharge permits.
Since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, when the Environmental Protection Agency told a property owner to jump, in some cases the property owner's only possible response was "how high?" No so anymore.
Last month, in Sackett vs. Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling that places a limitation on how far the EPA can go to compel property owners to comply with the Clean Water Act.
The definition of wetland would seem to be self-evident: wet land. If only it were that easy in California.
From vernal pools that slowly diminish in the Central Valley heat to brackish estuaries separating ocean from land, California's topography includes some of the most varied types of wetlands imaginable. Their numbers and varieties baffle that which governmental regulations such as the federal Clean Water Act describe.
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court has given power plant operators in California and around the nation an important victory by upholding the Environmental Protection Agency's power to use cost-benefit analyses in deciding whether to require expensive retrofitting to minimize fish-kills.
Environmental groups, however, say they hope the Obama administration EPA will shift policy and take a stricter view of what existing power plants must do to reduce the impact on aquatic life from using ocean or river waters to cool the facilities.
A challenge to a large power plant in western Riverside County has been rejected by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that the plaintiffs could not contest the project in federal district court.
WASHINGTON – Industry and environmental groups in California are awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court that could determine how far the state's coastal power plants must go to reduce their fish-killing intake of ocean waters used to cool generating facilities.
The Environmental Protection Agency has until December 1, 2009, to promulgate standards for runoff from construction sites. The deadline is contained in a 2006 federal district court ruling that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld.