Court Decision to Protect Water from Construction Pollution

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena, Calif. affirmed a decision that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must set standards to control stormwater pollution from strip malls, subdivisions, and other new development, according to a Sept. 18 press release from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and Waterkeeper Alliance.

EPA and the National Association of Homebuilders had appealed the lower court's ruling from 2006, but the appeals court sided with NRDC and Waterkeeper Alliance. The decision will help ensure that construction site pollution won't cause beach closings, waterborne disease, flooding, fish kills, and contaminated drinking water supplies. The states of New York and Connecticut supported the conservation groups.

"This decision will go along way toward protecting America's streams and rivers from the construction and development industry," said Melanie Shepherdson, staff attorney at NRDC. "The court made it very clear that EPA can't just shirk its responsibilities to rein in pollution from this industry."

Excessive sediment, which is often the result of construction activity, is one of the leading causes of impairment of the nation's waters. Construction runoff threatens rivers, pollutes clean water sources, and leads to excessive plant growth, like algae and nuisance plants, in waterbodies.

To read the court's decision, visit

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