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SWS joins seven other scientific societies and several individual scientists in submitting amici brief
The Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) joined seven other scientific societies and several individual scientists in an amici brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in the case of County of Maui v. Hawai'i Wildlife Fund et al. The case involves whether the Clean Water Act requires a NPDES permit when pollutants from injection wells flow to the Pacific Ocean through a groundwater pathway. Ruling in favor of the environmental groups, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a permit is required when pollutants are "fairly traceable" to a point source, such as a well. The County argues that a NPDES permit is only triggered by a direct discharge to a navigable water.
The amici brief filed on behalf of scientific societies and aquatic scientists informs the Supreme Court about basic hydrologic concepts and the scientific methods used to track pollutants in groundwater and surface water. The Clean Water Act's objective—to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation's waters—is based on science. Accordingly, this objective can only be achieved through the consideration of science, which can be used to assess the extent to which point sources are connected to surface waters through groundwater. The brief concludes that the Ninth Circuit's "fairly traceable" test is supported by the science of these connections, while the County's approach blithely disregards hydrogeologic reality.
Oral arguments are scheduled for November 6, 2019, with a decision expected by June 2020.
The amici brief is available at https://stetso.nu/6vB9K. Further background on the case and all briefs can be found at https://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/county-of-maui-hawaii-v-hawaii-wildlife-fund/.