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Conservation Law Foundation v. Longwood Venues & Destinations, Inc.

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20188
Nos. 18-11821-WGY, (D. Mass., 11/26/2019) (Young, J.)

A district court upheld EPA's interpretation that the CWA does not regulate discharges into groundwater that is hydrologically connected to navigable waters in a lawsuit concerning a wastewater treatment facility on Cape Cod. An environmental group argued that the facility was discharging pollutants into "waters of the United States" without an NPDES permit in violation of the CWA. The facility asserted that it was not liable under the CWA because it was discharging pollutants into groundwater rather than directly into the harbor, relying on EPA's recent interpretation that releases of pollutants into groundwater were categorically excluded from the CWA's NPDES program regardless of whether there was a hydrological connection to navigable waters. The court found that the Agency's interpretation was a permissible construction of the CWA and thus entitled to deference. It therefore held that the facility's unpermitted discharges did not violate the CWA.