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Waste Action Project v. Clark County

Citation: 29 ELR 21332
No. No. C98-5271RJB, 45 F. Supp. 2d 1049/(W.D. Wash., 01/13/1999)

The court holds that a county violated the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) by discharging stormwater runoff without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The court first holds that environmental groups sufficiently complied with the FWPCA's notice requirements. The individuals primarily responsible for the alleged violations received notice of the specific locations of the outfall sources, and the county commissioners were adequately informed of the alleged violations.

The court next holds that the environmental groups have standing. Members of the environmental groups stated how pollution discharged from the storm sewer system affects their recreational use of the county's water bodies. And although there are other factors that contribute to the degree of water pollution, the stormwater collects pollutants from many of these other sources and brings that collectionby discharge into the waterways. Further, an NPDES permit will insure that the discharges meet state water quality standards and that the county will take steps to reduce the degree of pollution in stormwater discharges.

The court also holds that an NPDES permit is required for the county's stormwater discharge. The county did not present any evidence showing that it protested the necessity for obtaining an NPDES permit to either the U.S. Department of Energy or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the court will not second-guess the determination by these agencies that a permit was required.

Counsel for Plaintiff
John S. Karpinski
Law Offices of John S. Karpinski
2612 E. 20th St., Vancouver WA 98661
(360) 690-4500

Counsel for Defendant
E. Bronson Potter
Clark County Prosecuting Attorney's Office
P.O. Box 5000, Vancouver WA 98666
(360) 699-2261