EPA Issues Statement on Clean Water Act Permitting Requirements

(April 23, 2019) - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a statement on April 15 clarifying the application of Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements to groundwater. EPA’s Interpretative Statement concludes that Congress excluded releases of pollutants to groundwater from the CWA’s permitting requirements, and instead left regulation of those releases to the states and EPA’s other statutory authorities.

NACWA published an Advocacy Alert regarding the statement and its implications for NACWA members.  

Consistent with Congress’ vision for a strong federal state partnership to protect the country’s groundwater resources, the agency’s new guidance recognizes the states’ leadership role in protecting groundwater and provides certainty to states and others who implement and enforce EPA’s federal permitting programs. EPA’s Interpretative Statement will help inform federal and state regulators with future National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting and enforcement decisions.  This is also consistent with the position NACWA has taken in legal cases on the issue. 

In conjunction with issuing its Interpretative Statement, the agency is seeking additional public input regarding what may be needed to provide further clarity and regulatory certainty on this issue. The Interpretive Statement was published today in the Federal Register, and the comment period will be open for 45 days and close on June 7th.

More information is available on the EPA website.  Members with any questions can contact Amanda Waters, NACWA’s General Counsel.