Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Judge Cox Orders End to EPA Lawsuit, 35 Year Federal Court Oversight

Earlier this morning, Judge Sean Cox entered an order concluding the EPA lawsuit and federal oversight of DWSD which began in 1977.

"The Court concludes that, after more than thirty-five years of federal oversight, the DWSD has achieved substantial compliance with its NPDES permit and the Clean Water Act. This Court shall therefore terminate the Second Amended Consent Judgment and close this case because the existing Administrative Consent Order is a sufficient mechanism to address any future issues regarding compliance with the DWSD's NPDES permit and the Clean Water Act."    
With regard to the request made in the Director's March 15, 2013 Final Compliance Report, that the Court sanction the conversion of DWSD into an independent public authority, Judge Cox declined such a request, which his opinion indicates was unsolicited:
"This Court has no intention of ordering the creation of a regional authority and has no intention of ordering or approving the transfer of DWSD's assets to a regional authority. This Court lacks the authority to do so.  Moreover, even if this Court had the authority to order what is not being proposed, the Court would not do so for multiple reasons."
Comment: I suspect that Judge Cox's ruling this morning caught many by surprise. If DWSD still plans to become an independent authority, it either needs to convince the new EM, Kevyn Orr, that this is a good idea or throw its support behind Kurt Heise's legislative approach.  

(Note: If you write me (here), I would be glad to e-mail you a full copy of Judge Cox's Opinion and Order. I'll try to get it posted later in the day, but no time now.)

Related press coverage: 

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