Environmental Law Counsel has extensive background with surface water, wetlands and groundwater issues. We have experience in obtaining NPDES permits and Section 404 wetland filling permits, defending against Notices of Violation alleging NPDES violations and complaints alleging illegal filling of wetlands, and assisting landowners, buyers and sellers in evaluating and managing groundwater contamination issues.

Traditionally surface water discharges have been regulated under the Clean Water Act at the outfall of a “point source” under National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.

water recycling
More recent trends in regulation have focused on overall stream quality and alleged impacts from up-gradient “non-point source” activities such as farming, logging and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Opponents of new projects also now have a number of new tools in the form of more stringent water quality standards, nutrient load limits, reduced mixing zones, and “anti-degradation” requirements.

Representative Matters

Our notable experience in water matters includes the following:

  • Represented ethanol producers in contentious NPDES permit proceedings for two new ethanol production facilities in Illinois, including presentation of expert witnesses and anti-degradation assessment.
  • Represented chemical company in responding to and settling a compliance inquiry and Notice of Violation brought by EPA and Department of Justice for alleged violation of NPDES permit conditions for an on-site waste water treatment plant.
  • Represented chemical company in responding to complaint alleging exceedances of industrial discharge limits for discharge to a publicly owned treatment works.
  • Assisted in representation of petroleum refinery responding to government allegations of criminal submission of fraudulent reports of industrial discharge sampling.
  • Obtained U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit for new power plant construction allowing the filling of on-site wetlands based on purchase of mitigation credits from an off-site wetlands conservation “bank.”
  • Defended cemetery owner against U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ complaint alleging illegal filling of wetland on cemetery property.
  • Assisted lender in evaluating saltwater wetland mitigation compliance for a resort development that had filled a saltwater wetland and created a manmade wetland on an island in San Francisco Bay, including evaluating the success of the manmade wetland and the value of the excess mitigation acreage.
  • Represented a landfill owner in investigating alleged groundwater contamination, selecting and implementing a groundwater treatment strategy, obtaining approval of a groundwater remediation zone, and settling allegations of groundwater contamination migrating to neighboring townhome owners’ groundwater wells, including negotiating the provision of municipal water to the residents.
  • Represented sellers, purchasers and lenders in many transactions involving investigation, testing, monitoring and remediation of groundwater contamination from historic industrial operations, leaking underground storage tanks, and dry cleaners, including obtaining “no further action” letters in various state voluntary clean-up programs and closure of leaking underground storage tank sites.
  • Assisted owner of former “brownfield” property in overseeing compliance with the requirements of a “no further action” letter requiring the operation of a continuous groundwater pump and treat system, including evaluating monthly sampling, reporting and operation and maintenance.