Fighting Storm Water Pollution

  • Goal: Reduce pollution from storm water runoff
  • Year Started: 1999
  • Client: Environmental Defense Center


Storm water runoff is one of the nation’s most widespread forms of water pollution, leading to the contamination of many of our country’s rivers, streams, and coastal waters. In 1999, the Environmental Defense Center filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enforce EPA’s obligation to impose requirements on municipalities to reduce pollution from storm water runoff. We won that case, but had to sue again in 2014 to enforce the court’s order and require EPA to finalize regulations to protect and improve water quality.

In particular, our 2014 lawsuit targeted dirty water that runs off roads, parking lots, and other hard surfaces in cities and suburbs when it rains, and which is one of the prime causes of beach closures around the country. The lawsuit also aimed to reduce sediment-laden runoff from forest roads, often used for logging, oil and gas extraction, recreation, and other purposes. Such runoff threatens drinking water supplies and kills fish and other aquatic life. EDC settled our lawsuit with EPA, resulting in clear deadlines for the EPA to update its stormwater program, thus reducing the threat of water pollution on public health, wildlife, and recreation.

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