09 February 2013

SCOTUS in Plain English: Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe Supreme Court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case at SCOTUblog below. For similar posts, click here.

Los Angeles County Flood Control District v. Natural Resources Defense Council

Los Angeles operates a municipal storm sewer system. The Clean Water Act (CWA) regulates the "discharge of a pollutant." The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a lawsuit against the city's Flood Control District, alleging that water flowing from an improved portion to an unimproved portion of the storm sewer system exceeded allowable pollution limits. The Supreme Court ruled that water flowing from one part of the District's waterway to another part of the same waterway was not a "discharge" under the CWA. As a result, the CWA does not apply. The practical impact of this decision is that CWA pollution standards for discharges do not apply to different of parts of the same waterway.
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