Rejecting the Trump administration’s novel 2019 interpretation that the Clean Water Act never requires permits for pollutant discharges to groundwater, the United States Supreme Court handed down, on April 23, its eagerly awaited decision in County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al.

The 6-3 majority held that Section 301 of the Clean Water Act requires an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit for a point source discharge that reaches navigable waters after traveling through groundwater “if that discharge is the functional equivalent of a direct discharge ….” (emphasis added). The case is the last word (for now) in a highly publicized dispute about Maui’s underground injection of treated sewage waste water, a large part of which migrates a short distance via groundwater into the Pacific Ocean.

Read the full GT Alert: “Supreme Court: Pollutants Reaching Navigable Waters Through Groundwater May Require Permit Under Clean Water Act.”