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Sacramento Regional County Sanitation Dist. v. Thomas

Citation: 20 ELR 21113
No. No. 89-15621, 905 F.2d 1262/31 ERC 1473/(9th Cir., 06/08/1990) Vacated & remanded

The court rules that § 201 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) does not authorize federal funding of mitigation wetland purchases for the construction of publicly owned treatment works. California awarded a county sanitation district a grant for construction of a wastewater treatment plant on the condition that the district create wetlands acreage elsewhere to mitigate wetlands loss resulting from construction of the plant. Relying on the statute's plain meaning, the court first holds that the purchase of mitigation lands is not encompassed within FWPCA 212(1)'s enumeration of planning, preparation, and building activities under the definition of "construction." Nor is acquisition of mitigation land encompassed within § 212(1)'s phrase "other necessary actions." Under the doctrine of ejusdem generis, words that follow an enumeration of specific terms are read as applying only to other items akin to those specifically enumerated. The phrase "other necessary actions" thus refers to actions similar to the planning, preparation, and building activities set forth in the immediately preceding enumeration. The court also concludes that funding for mitigation wetlands is prohibited because grants are awarded only for construction of "treatment works." Mitigation wetlands are not an integral part of the treatment process and are not used for the ultimate disposal of residues resulting from such treatment.

[The district court decision is published at 18 ELR 20432.]

Counsel for Defendant-Appellant
David F. Levi
U.S. Attorney's Office
650 Capitol Mall, Rm. 3305, Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 551-2700

J. Carol Williams, Carl Strass, Charles J. Sheehan
Land and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellee
L. B. Elam, Robert L. Pleines
Office of the County Counsel
700 H St., Rm. 2650, Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 440-5544

Henry L. Diamond, Richard S. Davis, David M. Friedland
Beveridge & Diamond
1350 I St., NW, Washington DC 20005
(202) 789-6000

Reinhardt (before Fletcher and Lively,* JJ.