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Pud No. 1 v. Wash. Dep't of Ecology

Supreme Court of the United States

February 23, 1994, Argued ; May 31, 1994, Decided

No. 92-1911

Opinion

 [*703]  [***723]  [**1905]    JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court.

 Petitioners, a city and a local utility district, want to build a hydroelectric project on the Dosewallips River in Washington State. We must decide whether respondent state environmental agency (hereinafter respondent) properly conditioned a permit for the project on the maintenance of specific minimum stream flows to protect salmon and steelhead runs.

 [*704]  I

This case involves the complex statutory and regulatory scheme that governs our Nation's waters, a scheme that implicates both federal and state administrative responsibilities. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act, 86 Stat. 816, as amended, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq., is a comprehensive water quality statute designed to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the [****8]  Nation's waters." § 1251(a). The Act also seeks to attain "water quality which provides for the protection and propagation of fish, shellfish, and wildlife." § 1251(a)(2).

To achieve these ambitious goals, the Clean Water Act establishes distinct roles for the Federal and State Governments. Under the Act, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required, among other things, to establish and enforce technology-based limitations on individual discharges into the country's navigable waters from point sources. See §§ 1311, 1314. Section 303 of the Act also requires each State, subject to federal approval, to institute comprehensive water quality standards establishing water quality goals for all intrastate waters. §§ 1311(b) (1)(C), 1313. These state water quality standards provide "a supplementary basis . . . so that numerous point sources, despite individual compliance with effluent limitations, may be further regulated to prevent water quality from falling below acceptable levels." EPA v. California ex rel. State Water Resources Control Bd., 426 U.S. 200, 205, n. 12, 48 L. Ed. 2d 578, 96 S. Ct. 2022 (1976).

] A state water quality standard "shall [****9]  consist of the designated uses of the navigable waters involved and the water quality criteria for such waters based upon such uses." 33 U.S.C. § 1313(c)(2)(A). In setting standards, the State must comply with the following broad requirements:

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511 U.S. 700 *; 114 S. Ct. 1900 **; 128 L. Ed. 2d 716 ***; 1994 U.S. LEXIS 4271 ****; 62 U.S.L.W. 4408; 94 Cal. Daily Op. Service 3843; 94 Daily Journal DAR 7236; 24 ELR 20945; 38 ERC (BNA) 1593; 8 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 172

PUD NO. 1 OF JEFFERSON COUNTY AND CITY OF TACOMA, PETITIONERS v. WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY, ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF WASHINGTON.

Disposition: 121 Wash. 2d 179, 849 P.2d 646, affirmed.

CORE TERMS

certification, license, conditions, water quality, stream flow, limitations, water quality standards, discharges, designated, state law, regulations, waters, state water, Clean Water Act, quality standards, petitioners', river, provisions, antidegradation, effluent limitation, navigable waters, pollution, fish, ensure compliance, hydroelectric, compliance, environmental, quantity, recreation, deference

Business & Corporate Compliance, Water Quality, Clean Water Act, Water Quality Standards, Real Property Law, Water Rights, Beneficial Use, Environmental Law, General Overview, Coverage & Definitions, Navigable Waters, Enforcement, Discharge Permits, Effluent Limitations, Nonconsumptive Uses, State Water Quality Certifications, Governments, State & Territorial Governments, Licenses, Wetlands, Fishing, Energy & Utilities Law, Electric Power Industry, Federal Power Act, Administrative Allocations