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Driscoll v. Adams

Citation: 29 ELR 21387
No. No. 98-8532, 181 F.3d 1285/48 ERC 2093/(11th Cir., 07/23/1999)

The court holds a landowner liable under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) for discharging polluted stormwater without a permit into a stream on his property that flows into ponds on his neighbors' property. The discharges occurred when the landowner was harvesting timber and developing his property. The court first holds that although a national pollutant discharge elimination system stormwater discharge permit was not available for the landowner, the landowner's actions did not fit within the narrow exception to FWPCA § 301 (a)'s zero-discharge standard. The landowner did little or nothing to limit erosion or stormwater discharge before beginning construction. Further, the amount of the landowner's stormwater discharge and the resulting damage were substantial. The court then holds that the landowner's discharges fell within the scope of prohibited pollutant discharges under the FWPCA. Sand and silt, which were two of the primary constituents of the sediment deposited in the ponds, are pollutants under the FWPCA, the landowner collected the stormwater by pipes and other means that are point sources, and the stream is a navigable water, even if it flows intermittently.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Donald D.J. Stack
Stack & Associates
100 Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta GA 30303
(404) 525-9205

Counsel for Defendant
Susan Dewberry
Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers
1355 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta GA 30309
(404) 874-8800

Before Edmondson and Watson,* JJ.