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Idaho Sportsmen's Coalition v. Browner

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20771
Nos. C93-943WD, 951 F. Supp. 962/(W.D. Wash., 09/26/1996)

The court holds that a state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed schedule for developing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for Idaho water quality limited segments (WQLSs) violates the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA). The schedule defeats the Act's goal of quickly developing strategies for improving water quality. In 17 years, Idaho has completed only three TMDLs. Under the proposed schedule, at least 25 more years would go by before the remaining TMDLs were developed. The net result would be to put off for another generation a step that Congress required states to take years ago. Although courts have allowed additional time when FWPCA deadlines are missed, nothing in the law could justify so glacial a pace. Furthermore, the schedule makes no provision for developing TMDLs for all Idaho WQLSs. The schedule simply assumes that monitoring and evaluation will reduce the list of WQLSs in the state. While it is possible that some of the 962 Idaho WQLSs will drop off the list as knowledge is gained and conditions change, that possibility does not entitle EPA or the state to assume that the list will dwindle by hundreds of water bodies. The FWPCA requires that the full WQLSs list be the basis for TMDL development, even though it may be amended later. The court therefore holds that EPA's approval of Idaho's proposed TMDL schedule was arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion. The court remands the case for EPA and Idaho to develop, within six months, a reasonable schedule for the development of TMDLs for all WQLSs in Idaho.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Todd D. True, Victor M. Sher
Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund
705 Second Ave., Ste. 203, Seattle WA 98104
(206) 343-7340

Counsel for Defendants
Brian C. Kipnis, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
Sea-First Plaza Bldg.
800 5th Ave., Seattle WA 98104
(206) 553-7970