Issue: Maui County v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund — NPDES Permitting and Functional Equivalent Discharge

In 2018, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) agreed to hear the case Maui County v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (No. 18-260). The case examined whether the Clean Water Act requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit when pollutants are conveyed from a point source to waters of the United States (WOTUS) by groundwater.

In 2020, SCOTUS concluded that the Clean Water Act NPDES permitting requirements apply when conveyance by groundwater provides “the functional equivalent of a direct discharge” of a point source into jurisdictional waters under the Clean Water Act. After the ruling, NGWA worked with partner organizations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to draft practical “real-world” guidance to address the Supreme Court decision.

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