In 2012, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund sued the County of Maui, Hawaii, alleging that the pollutants discharged from the county’s waste treatment plant were making their way through the groundwater to the Pacific Ocean. The county of Maui, however, asserted that this was a nonpoint source, and therefore a permit was not required under the Clean Water Act.

While the Clean Water Act calls for preventing the discharge of pollutants into navigable waters of the United States, the precise limitations of the federal government’s anti-pollution authority remain ambiguous.

When is a permit required under the Clean Water Act to discharge pollutants from a nonpoint source? And what are the potential implications of this case before the Supreme Court? Prof. Donald Kochan of the Chapman University David E. Fowler School of Law discusses County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund. Oral argument is November 6, 2019.


As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues. All opinions expressed are those of the speaker.


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Related Links & Differing Views:

LA Times: “Supreme Court to decide if Clean Water Act limits Hawaii’s underground wastewater dumping”

Bloomberg: “Supreme Court Will Consider Limiting Scope of Clean Water Act”

The Federalist Society: “Courthouse Steps Preview: County of Maui, Hawaii v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund”

American Bar Association: “County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund: A preview of the Supreme Court’s review of Clean Water Act jurisdiction over groundwater”