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Supreme Court ruling seen as victory for hydro power operators


From the January 10, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published January 10, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
In a victory for hydro power operators, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the discharge of pollutants from an improved portion of a waterway into an unimproved portion of the same waterway does not require a permit under the Clean Water Act. In a Jan. 8 decision in Los Angeles Flood Control District v. NRDC Inc. and Santa Monica Baykeeper, the Supreme Court reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had held that the Los Angeles County Flood Control District violated its discharge permit by channeling polluted stormwater from concrete-lined to unlined portions of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers.

APPA last year joined in an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the Ninth Circuit decision was inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent and could subject dam operators who do not add any pollutants from the outside world to the discharge permitting program.

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