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United States v. Cooper

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20073
Nos. No. 05-4956, (4th Cir., 03/28/2007)

The court upheld the conviction of a trailer park sewage lagoon operator for knowingly discharging a pollutant from a point source into navigable waters without a permit in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The operator claimed that the lower court should have acquitted him because the government failed to prove that he knew that he was discharging pollutants into U.S. waters. But the language "knowingly" in CWA §309 does not require the government to establish a defendant's knowledge as to the jurisdictional status of the waters affected. Rather, it requires a showing that the defendant knowingly discharged pollutants. And because the creek into which the lagoon discharges and treated sewage flows is a tributary of an interstate water, the CWA and national pollutant discharge elimination system program apply.