States May Regulate Dam “Discharge” Under Clean Water Act

Mon, 15/05/2006

Today the U.S. Supreme Court resoundingly held that states have broad authority to protect their streams under the Clean Water Act when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses hydropower dams. In aunanimous decision in the case S.D. Warren v. Maine Board of Environmental rotection, the Court held that water flowing out of a hydroelectric dam constitutes a “discharge” and therefore is subject to state water quality standards and related state laws. “Today’s decision is a victory for water quality and fisheries protection,” said Leon Szeptycki, General Counsel for Trout Unlimited, which filed an amicus brief in the case. “The Court recognized the critical role of states in determining the impact of dams on water flows and habitat.”