News Briefs: U.S. Supreme Court to Hear WWTP Case Involving Clean Water Act

The court's decision could have a far-reaching impact as it makes a decision on the scope of Clean Water Act liability

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will hear a case about the Clean Water Act. Specifically, the highest court in the land will decide whether releases of pollutants require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits when they come from from a point source, but are conveyed to surface waters through a non-point source.

The case involves wastewater treatment in Maui County at the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility. The facility has used recycled water on irrigation and has released treated wastewater into the ocean for nearly 40 years indirectly via injection wells, which some environmental groups say is a violation of the Clean Water Act.

“We’ve already succeeded twice in having our case decided in our favor. Being that the groundwater is polluting the near-shore coral reef waters, and it's being polluted by our own injection wells. So the hope with the lawsuit is to try to stop the problem,” Hannah Bernard, director of the Hawaii Wildlife Fund, tells KHON News.

“By holding that permits are required whenever any amount of the discharge reaches the surface water in any way and at any point in time, the two decisions have unearthed incredible uncertainty for those who are trying to understand and comply with the law,” says attorney Kevin Minoli, a former senior official in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of General Counsel.

Sinkhole in Tennessee Shuts Down Water Treatment Plant

A sinkhole created by heavy rains in Maynardville, Tennessee, has become a problem for the city’s water supply as it forced the closure of a water treatment plant.

The sinkhole is about 25 feet deep and 40 feet wide. When it formed on the property — which is connected to the spring where the city gets its water — mud made its way into the water source.

The plant shut down automatically as dirty water poured into the facility. The city’s mayor says there was orange water throughout the plant, too polluted to be cleaned by the facility’s processes.

The plant treats 425,000 gpd and operators don’t know when they’ll have it up and running again.

Suspect Caught on Camera Crashing Vehicle Through WWTP's Front Gate

Authorities in De Pere, Wisconsin, are looking for help finding a suspect who crashed through the gate of the city’s new wastewater treatment facility.

Watching the security footage shared by the facility’s operators, it’s pretty clear the driver did it on purpose, but the question remains: What could the motive be? The video shows the vehicle sideswiping a piece of equipment before barreling through the gate and then finally leaving through the same gate.


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