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Sarasota, City of v. EPA

Citation: 17 ELR 20647
No. No. 85-3655, 813 F.2d 1106/26 ERC 1026/(11th Cir., 04/03/1987)

The court holds that Federal Water Pollution Control Act § 509(b)(1) does not authorize direct appellate review of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to deny construction funding for a land-based spray irrigation sewage treatment plant. The court holds that EPA's decision that the proposed treatment project would not yield significant water quality benefits was solely a grant funding decision, not a decision regarding effluent limitations. EPA's letter denying funding did not mention effluent limitations, discussing only whether the project's water quality benefits qualified it for advanced treatment (AT) funding and whether Sarasota's proposed zero discharge would restore Sarasota Bay seagrasses. The court distinguishes effluent limitations determinations made in the national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permitting process from the components of AT funding decisions. Although AT review criteria and procedures are used in generating water quality standards and effluent limitations, the objectives and scope of AT reviews and effluent limitation determinations are distinctly separate. The court notes that an earlier EPA letter explicitly refused to extend its approval of state wasteload allocation beyond grant eligibility to effluent limitations. Moreover, Sarasota had not applied for an NPDES permit for discharge into Sarasota Bay when EPA made its funding determination; the agency thus did not have for its consideration an application from a specific discharger for which to approve an effluent limitation.

[A related opinion appears at 17 ELR 20149].

Counsel for Appellant
Joseph M. Zorc
2300 N St. NW, 6th Fl., Washington DC 20037
(202) 633-9100

Counsel for Appellee
George B. Henderson
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, P.O. Box 23986, Washington DC 20026-3986
(202) 633-4438

Before RONEY, Chief Judge, GODBOLD, Circuit Judge, and ATKINS*, Senior District Judge.