Status of Stormwater Regulation in California
By Melissa A. Thorme*
Regulation of stormwater discharges in California is carried out under state law and the federal Clean Water Act, through joint Waste Discharge Requirements ("WDRs") and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System ("NPDES") permits issued by the State under delegated authority from the United States Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"). Reported case law on stormwater regulation is sparse since these discharges have been regulated for a shorter period of time than other point source discharges under the Clean Water Act. However, the absence of case law does not equate to an absence of either controversy or litigation. Indeed, within the last few years, one municipal stormwater case has gone to the United States Supreme Court twice. In addition, numerous citizen suits and enforcement actions have been brought against industrial and construction stormwater discharges. This article provides the regulatory history in general and particularly in California, and a prediction on future regulatory changes.