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Helping You Help The Planet

Water is a vital resource, and access to reliable and safe water is fundamental to life in our world. Because of this importance, water’s use, supply and quality are highly regulated. The laws can be complicated and complex, and it can be challenging to stay in compliance with all the regulations.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) is a federal law managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) focused on protecting and improving water resources. The goal of the CWA is to prevent, reduce and eliminate pollution in water to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.”

Under the CWA, businesses and other entities must obtain a permit through the EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) before releasing pollutants into water. Parties who discharge pollutants into the water without the required permits may face legal action and consequences.

California takes water regulations very seriously. Tropea McMillan, LLP, has worked with clients throughout the state to provide advice and representation to companies and property owners regarding CWA water regulations.

How CWA Violations Are Prosecuted

Enforcing environmental regulations is a central part of what the EPA does. The EPA can take civil or criminal action against violators of the CWA. Depending on the type of action commenced, various penalties are possible.

These can penalties include:

  • Incarceration
  • Fines and restitution
  • Cleanup enforcement
  • Injunctive relief

To supplement state and federal enforcement, the CWA authorizes citizens to bring lawsuits to stop someone from discharging pollutants into a stream, lake, ocean or other surface body of water. Citizens can seek injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees. Further, if a regulatory agency fails to act against a violator of the CWA, citizens have the right to file citizen suits against the state regulatory agency or the EPA. Often times, citizens form entities whose business is to prosecute CWA claims. These groups, such as Eden Environmental Defenders and San Francisco Baykeeper, typically target individuals and small businesses as they are perceived to be easy targets.

When receiving a Notice of Violation, the most crucial step is to understand and examine whether an actual violation has occurred. Then, you need to ensure that you understand the CWA regulations and take steps to maintain compliance.

Our attorneys have experience representing private entities sued by citizens groups for alleged violations of storm water and effluent discharge permits. We will also negotiate with enforcing agencies to resolve permit violations without further legal action. This often includes addressing the violation with cleanup, remediation and preventive measures. Tropea McMillan, LLP, can help you respond to notices of violations with enforcement proceedings and create a compliance plan to ensure you do not violate the CWA regulations.

Get Ahead Of The Regulations

At Tropea McMillan, LLP, our attorneys guide private and public sector clients on how to comply with CWA regulations and fight and prevent them. We understand how complex these regulations are. Contact Tropea McMillan, LLP, to learn more about how we can assist you in a water issue by calling 619-566-0676 or sending an email.