NGWA submits comments to EPA on SCOTUS County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund guidance memo

January 12, 2021

NGWA has submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to their draft guidance to the regulated community and permitting authorities on applying the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, in the Clean Water Act Section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program for point source discharges that travel through groundwater before reaching waters of the United States.

NGWA argues within their comments that the EPA’s draft memorandum falls short in its mission to provide “focused guidance” to states and industries that may discharge potentially polluted groundwater that eventually flows into surface water. There is no guidance within the memo regarding when pollutant discharge into groundwater should initiate permit action.

“The field of hydrogeology has evolved to develop specific investigation and analysis tools to make determinations of groundwater/surface water interaction that can be applied to support states, municipalities, and industry decisions for NPDES permits,” said NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC.

NGWA also points to a lack of specific guidance on how potential pollutant dischargers should evaluate their individual sites and implement consistent decisions that are protective of the environment and aligned with the intent of the guidance. NGWA is offering the EPA assistance in the development of any future guidance by the agency.

“It is our hope that a guidance document will be created that is both accessible and has real-world applications,” Morse said. “The experience and knowledge of our membership, I feel, will allow us to provide valuable and unique input to the EPA when drafting future guidance.”