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Tennessee Clean Water Network v. Tennessee Valley Authority

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20166
Nos. 17-6155, (6th Cir., 09/24/2018)

The Sixth Circuit held that seepage from a coal-fired power plant adjacent to the Cumberland River did not violate the CWA. Environmental groups argued that the plant violated the CWA by leaking pollutants without a permit from its unlined coal ash ponds into groundwater that is hydrologically connected to the Cumberland River. The district court had determined that the ponds constituted point sources as defined by the Act, and that seepage from the ponds into groundwater that is hydrologically connected to the Cumberland River violated the Act. The appellate court concluded that the Act does not address pollution that moves through groundwater because groundwater itself is not a point source. It therefore reversed the district court's ruling.