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Our work is making a big splash!

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The SWS Executive Board would like to thank the SWS Policy Section, especially Royal Gardner and his team of attorneys as well as all of our members that played a role, along with our aquatic science partner societies, in preparation of the amici brief recently cited in the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in County of Maui v. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund. On April 23, 2020, SCOTUS ruled 6-3 that the Clean Water Act (CWA) covers the functional equivalent of direct discharges of pollutants to navigable waters. Our work is clearly making a difference!

The amici brief was cited by Justice Breyer, who wrote the opinion for the majority, "Virtually all water, polluted or not, eventually makes its way to navigable water. This is just as true for groundwater. See generally 2 Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia 2600 (10th ed. 2008) (defining "Hydrology"). Given the power of modern science, the Ninth Circuit's limitation, "fairly traceable," may well allow EPA to assert permitting authority over the release of pollutants that reach navigable waters many years after their release (say, from a well or pipe or compost heap) and in highly diluted forms. See, e.g., Brief for Aquatic Scientists et al. as Amici Curiae 13–28."
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