So, You Live under a Rock? Does the Clean Water Act Apply to Your Water Down There?

The circuits are split on whether the reach of the CWA extends to groundwater.

By Karen Aldridge Crawford


Unless you live under a rock, you have likely heard the news and political debates over Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction. You have likely heard about the Obama administration’s attempt to redefine “navigable waters” in a rule that greatly extended the reach of CWA jurisdiction—known as the WOTUS rule—and that has been the subject of much litigation. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is repealing that rule.


More recently, however, the U.S. Supreme Court was asked to determine a different question involving a different water resource: whether the CWA provides authority for regulation of discharges to groundwater.