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The Clean Water Act


The Federal Water Pollution Control Act (also known as the “Clean Water Act” or “CWA”) imposes strict limits on the dumping of water into essentially any waterway. I say “essentially” because nearly every ocean, gulf, river, stream, creek or pond is claimed by the Feds or the State as their “waterways”. Passed in 1972 (over the veto of President Nixon) it has become the bastion of water regulation.

A party cannot deposit water or any pollutant or chemical unless very strict controls are met. For example, industrial sites and waste treatment plants cannot just dump into a waterway without stringent processing. Real estate developers can't let their site run-off into the waterways. And, parties, companies and governments can't just dump water into a waterway without following rules. This usually means following a blanket “permit” and the slew of federal and state rules that go along with it. And, wetlands are protected from encroachment as well.

If you are aggrieved property owner, victimized by a polluter or if your company is accused of violating the CWA there are number of different procedures you need to be aware of. First, a Notice Letter detailing the alleged violations must be sent to the alleged violator at least sixty (60) days prior to filing suit. Then suit may be filed in a federal court and the games begin. Nearly every violator will file what is called a pre-answer motion to dismiss usually challenging the notice's content, the way it was served or other objections.

Whether you are an alleged polluter or a private party that wants to use the CWA you will need expert witness testimony. This is a typically found with a hydrological engineer or a wetlands expert.

Our firm has handled a number of successful CWA cases even up to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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