Basics of the Clean Water Act (ELI Summer School, 2019)

June 18, 2019 12:00 pm — 2:00 pm
Washington, DC (and via webinar)

Each summer, ELI convenes a complimentary seminar series that offers an introduction to the legal and policy foundations of environmental protection in the United States.

ELI's Summer School is a series of brown-bag lunch seminars taught by experts in their fields, introducing the audience to the major environmental statutes (including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Air Act (CAA), Clean Water Act (CWA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)), land use law, and environmental justice. Faculty will also incorporate major regulatory and judicial updates to the laws.

Who will benefit: All are welcome. Students and emerging professionals will have unique opportunities to learn, hear updates, ask questions, and network. The series is intended for:

  • undergraduates,
  • law students and graduate students, and
  • working professionals new to or looking for a refresher course in environmental law (such as interns, summer clerks, and associates, or second-career professionals).

Basics of the Clean Water Act

Amended in 1972, the Clean Water Act (CWA) calls for ending the discharge of pollutants into the waters of the United States. Decades since the passage of the CWA, fundamental questions regarding the jurisdictional range remain unanswered. This session explored the progress made to date and the potential changes on the horizon. In 2015, EPA enacted the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule to clarify which waterways and wetlands were subject to federal jurisdiction. However, some stakeholders believe the established program to be too broad. Recent proposals have been made to update WOTUS to better establish the difference between federally protected waterways under the CWA and state protected waterways. Faculty explored one of the nation’s most significant and pivotal environmental laws as it develops, including:

  • the regulatory and permitting framework for limiting water pollution,
  • the key distinction between point sources and nonpoint sources of pollution,
  • the corporate and private practice roles in complying with CWA, 
  • the current legal context of WOTUS,
  • and the considerations policymakers face in light of growing demands for water usage with growing energy needs, extreme weather, and climate change.

Joanna Citron Day
, Environmental Enforcement Section, Department of Justice
Kathy Robb, Principal, Sive, Paget & Riesel P.C.
Amanda Waters, General Counsel, National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA)

Joanna Citron Day presentation
Kathy Robb presentation
Amanda Waters presentation

Additional Materials:
Kathy Robb article, Take me to the river: Does the Clean Water Act regulation indirect discharges to groundwater? (Westlaw, 11/20/18)

**See the entire Summer School 2019 schedule HERE.**