U.S. Court Upholds Decision To Keep Water Safe From Construction Pollution

WASHINGTON (September 18, 2008) – Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Pasadena, California, affirmed a decision that EPA must set standards to control storm water pollution from strip malls, subdivisions and other new development.
EPA and the National Association of Homebuilders had appealed the lower court’s ruling from 2006, but the U.S. Court of Appeals sided with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Waterkeeper Alliance. The decision will help to ensure that construction site pollution won’t cause beach closings, waterborne disease, flooding, fish kills and contaminated drinking water supplies. The states of New York and Connecticut supported the conservation groups.
“This decision will go along way towards protecting America’s streams and rivers from the construction and development industry,” said Melanie Shepherdson, staff attorney at NRDC. “The court made it very clear that EPA can’t just shirk its responsibilities to reign in pollution from this industry.”
Excessive sediment, which is often the result of construction activity, is one of the leading causes of impairment of the nation’s waters. Construction runoff threatens rivers, pollutes clean water sources, and leads to excessive plant growth, like algae and nuisance plants, in water bodies.
“For too long EPA has turned away from the real work of protecting our waters. This decision forcefully reminds them of their duty to the American people and our waters,” said Jeffrey Odefey, staff attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance. “It’s time that EPA and the building industry demonstrate real leadership and took the necessary steps to prevent the destruction of our lakes, rivers, and streams.”
To read the court’s decision, go to http://docs.nrdc.org/water/wat_08091801A.pdf.