Clean Water Act

Development activities frequently trigger complex legal issues associated with environmental planning, wetlands areas, and storm water control. Crowell & Moring's water quality practice encompasses administrative and judicial enforcement proceedings, citizen suits, legislative efforts, participation in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rulemakings, and judicial challenges to these and other rules. Our practitioners are adept at negotiating National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits for operations involving mining, livestock, hazardous waste, steel, and other industries in permit proceedings, as well as defending those permits in subsequent appeals. We advise numerous clients on storm water permitting and wetlands matters, including jurisdictional questions and issues concerning nationwide and individual "dredge and fill" permits under Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404.

Our lawyers provide formal and informal agency advocacy related to major EPA regulations and policies. Examples include impaired waters/Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) regulations, general permit requirements for industrial storm water discharges, and NPDES regulations regarding concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and pesticide application. We have also advocated favorable EPA and Army Corps of Engineers policies, as well as provided U.S. Supreme Court amicus briefings on the scope of CWA jurisdiction over "navigable waters" and the exemption from dredge and fill permitting for farming, silviculture, and ranching activities.

We litigate against and in defense of EPA regulations such as the Phase II storm water regulations, NPDES rules regarding CAFOs and pesticide application, and general permitting for construction-related storm water discharges. We also defend against administrative and judicial enforcement actions and citizen suits alleging unpermitted discharges or permit violations. Successful outcomes include defending a major municipal wastewater treatment facility operator in a CWA criminal enforcement action, resulting in a deferred prosecution agreement that preserved the company’s government contracting ability. While representing the National Association of Home Builders in litigation brought by environmentalists challenging EPA's general permit for storm water discharges, we successfully moved for dismissal of those claims.