Document - Tacoma Decision, No. 92-1911

Abstract

Section 303 of the Clean Water Act requires each State, subject to federal approval, to institute comprehensive standards establishing water quality goals for all intrastate waters, and requires that such standards "consist of the designated uses of the navigable waters involved and the water quality criteria for such waters based upon such uses." Under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, the standards must also include an antidegradation policy to ensure that "[e]xisting instream water uses and the level of water quality necessary to protect [those] uses [are] maintained and protected." States are required by 401 of the Act to provide a water quality certification before a federal license or permit can be issued for any activity that may result in a discharge into intrastate navigable waters. As relevant here, the certification must "set forth any effluent limitations and other limitations . . . necessary to assure that any applicant" will comply with various provisions of the Act and "any other appropriate" state law requirement. 401(d). Under Washington's comprehensive water quality standards, characteristic uses of waters classified as Class AA include fish migration, rearing, and spawning. Petitioners, a city and a local utility district, want to build a hydroelectric project on the Dosewallips River, a Class AA water, which would reduce the water flow in the relevant part of the River to a minimal residual flow of between 65 and 155 cubic feet per second (cfs). In order to protect the River's fishery, respondent state environmental agency issued a 401 certification imposing, among other things, a minimum stream flow requirement of between 100 and 200 cfs. A state administrative appeals board ruled that the certification condition exceeded respondent's authority Page II under state law, but the State Superior Court reversed. The State Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the antidegradation provisions of the State's water quality standards require the imposition of minimum stream flows, and that 401 authorized the stream flow condition and conferred on States power to consider all state action related to water quality in imposing conditions on 401 certificates. Held: Washington's minimum stream flow requirement is a permissible condition of a 401 certification.

Description

Ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the proposed hydropower project on the Dosewallips River.

Document Information

Filename - Tacoma Decision, No. 92-1911322.pdf

Size - 196.81KB


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