NGWA Publishes White Paper: Groundwater Pollutant Conveyance as Functionally Equivalent to Direct Discharge

NGWA published a white paper recently titled “Evaluating Groundwater Conveyance of Point Source Pollution to a Navigable Water as Functionally Equivalent to Direct Discharge.”

This white paper describes key scientific and policy processes in developing approaches for assessing functional equivalency by state and local agencies, potential dischargers, and technical evaluators of groundwater pollutant transport.

In 2020, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued its opinion in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund (No. 18-260) addressing functionally equivalent discharges through groundwater to jurisdictional waters. The case examined whether the Clean Water Act (CWA) requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit when pollutants are conveyed from a point source to waters of the United States (WOTUS) by groundwater.

This paper is not a prescriptive or technical “how to” document. Its purpose is to provide a perspective on general approaches that might be taken to evaluate the possibility of conveyance of pollution release via groundwater being the functional equivalent of the direct conveyance of a point source discharge to jurisdictional waters.

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