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Water Utilities Could Face More Liability, Permit Costs

Oct. 18, 2017, 11:53 AM

Wastewater utilities, and potentially homeowners, could face greater liability if federal courts rule pollutants seeping into the Pacific Ocean or Long Island Sound through groundwater should be regulated under the Clean Water Act.

At least three federal appeals courts are weighing whether wastewater that travels via underground sources and ends up in federally protected waterways counts as a discharge requiring a permit. If the courts rule that groundwater can act as a conduit for wastewater—just as an outfall from a factory does— then sewage treatment plants, oil and gas companies, and even homeowners may have to get Clean Water Act ...