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EPA’s New Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule Limits Tribal Water Permit Power

On June 1, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) finalized a new rule implementing the Clean Water Act’s (“CWA”) Section 401. Under Section 401, no federal permit or license can be issued that may result in a discharge to waters of the United States unless the authorized tribe or state certifies that the discharge is … Continue Reading »

California Ruling Could Shift Fire Suppression Costs

Here’s a case to watch for any business engaged in activities that have the potential to spark a wildfire—the California Supreme Court is now considering whether corporations can be held liable to pay the costs of investigating and fighting certain human-caused fires. Law360 (May 20, 2020) Temperatures are rising, and wildfire season has already begun … Continue Reading »

Striking Middle Ground(water), the Supreme Court Holds That Some Discharges to Groundwater Require Clean Water Act Permits

The U.S. Supreme Court issued on April 23, 2020 a significant and controversial Clean Water Act (“CWA”) decision in County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund et al.  As summarized previously, the issue presented was whether the County of Maui (“County”) requires a CWA discharge permit to dispose of wastewater through groundwater discharge wells where … Continue Reading »

Monthly Water Use Reporting Requirements Adopted by SWRCB

WHO The new regulation applies to California’s largest urban retail water suppliers — those with more than 3,000 connections or supplying more than 3,000 acre-feet of water annually. In total, these systems service 90% of California’s population. WHAT On April 21, 2020, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) adopted a regulation that requires California’s … Continue Reading »

CEQA News You Can Use – Volume 5, Issue 1

Welcome to CEQA News You Can Use, a quarterly production of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP’s Natural Resources lawyers. This publication provides quick, useful bites of CEQA news, which we hope can be a resource to your real-time business decisions. That said, it is not and cannot be construed to be legal advice. Enjoy! “CEQA … Continue Reading »


While the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) does not apply to the preparation and adoption of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs), it does apply to projects to implement actions taken pursuant to GSPs. Jena Shoaf Acos, Elisabeth Esposito, Christopher Guillen and Ryan Waterman

COVID-19 Updates for Water Agencies and Water Users

Originally posted to the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck website on March 19, 2020. Updated as of March 27, 2020. Gov. Newsom Issues Stay-At-Home Order Exempting Critical Infrastructure Workers In an unprecedented move to protect the health and well-being of all Californians, Gov. Newsom issued Executive Order N-33-20 on March 19, 2020, ordering Californians to stay home except … Continue Reading »

Governor Further Relaxes Brown Act Meeting Requirements

On March 17, 2020, Governor Newsom issued another executive order designed to further relax Brown Act meeting requirements to implement social distancing in response to COVID-19. Among other changes, Executive Order N-29-20 suspends the requirement that local agencies must provide a location for members of the public to comment in-person. Local agencies must still enable … Continue Reading »

New Executive Order Enhances Government’s Ability to Respond to COVID-19

Today, March 12, 2020, Governor Newsom issued an executive order further enhancing state and local governments’ ability to respond to COVID-19. Of particular interest to water districts and other public agencies, paragraph 11 of the executive order relaxes certain requirements under the Brown Act and Bagley-Keene Act, to allow state and local legislative bodies to … Continue Reading »

Public Review Period: Ag Order 4.0 and Draft EIR

UPDATE: In light of COVID-19, the comment period for Ag Order 4.0 has been extended until June 20, 2020. WHAT The public review period is currently open for California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Coast Region’s (Central Coast Water Board) Draft Agricultural Order for Discharges to Irrigated Lands (Ag Order 4.0) and accompanying Draft … Continue Reading »