Ruling: permit may be required for pollutants in groundwater

The Supreme Court has ruled that a pollutant that makes its way to navigable waters through groundwater may require a permit under the Clean Water Act.

In a 6-3 decision, justices said a permit is required for a direct discharge of pollutants or its “functional equivalent.”  

Southwestern Indiana Farmer Mark Seib says the ruling creates a lot of questions.

“The question I have is what is considered a point of pollution- is it a gallon, is it an ounce, is it ten gallons,” he says. “And yet if we use the chemicals to spray the fields- is that considered a pollution. It’s going to be interesting.” 

The Supreme Court ruling was delivered in the case of Maui County versus the Hawaii Wildlife Fund. The case, which originated in the ninth circuit court, was whether the county violated the Clean Water Act when wastewater was injected into groundwater that eventually reached the Pacific Ocean.

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