By Katherine J. Hart

In Northwest Environmental Defense Center, et al. v. Marvin Brown, et al., an environmental group sued various timber companies along with the Oregon State Forester and the individual members of the Oregon Board of Forestry for violations of the Clean Water Act on the grounds they did not obtain permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for stormwater runoff that flows from logging roads into systems of ditches, culverts, and channels, which is eventually discharged into forest streams and rivers. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that such runoff from logging roads is a point source discharge and thus, an NPDES permit is required. The Court all but directed the EPA to prepare a general NPDES permit for stormwater runoff from logging roads which is discharged to navigable waters via ditches, culvert, and channels, and further indicated its confidence that the EPA would be able to do so in an expeditious manner. In California, the State Water Resources Control Board will be tasked with preparing and adopting such a general permit.

On May 17, 2011 the Ninth Circuit denied reconstruction of it forest roads decision in NEDC v. Brown.

Katherine J. Hart is a senior associate at Abbott & Kindermann, LLP. For questions relating to this article or any other California land use, real estate, environmental and/or planning issues contact Abbott & Kindermann, LLP at (916) 456-9595.

The information presented in this article should not be construed to be formal legal advice by Abbott & Kindermann, LLP, nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because of the changing nature of this area of the law and the importance of individual facts, readers are encouraged to seek independent counsel for advice regarding their individual legal issues.