Clean Water Act

The staff at SHRA has more than 10 years of experience conducting research relating to the
Clean Water Act. The federal law holds entities responsible for maintaining clean waterways
and facilities, as well as for ensuring that runoff does not adversely impact the nation’s
rivers and streams and citizens’ drinking water. As such, irrigation and canal companies,
municipalities, and many other entities grapple with compliance and the application of the law
to their operations. In the West, where most streams and water bodies are altered due to human
engineering, questions often involve assessing the original – or pre-engineered – state of the
land and/or water body. SHRA has researched and provided expertise on questions targeting the
nature of land and water in pre-settlement times, answering questions such as: was a particular
water body actually a stream before irrigation was applied? Was a piece of land originally a


Select Past Projects

SHRA has worked on a variety of projects relating to the Clean Water Act. These summaries represent a small sample of the firm’s work.

Client Confidential (2011-2012)

SHRA was hired by the defense attorneys in a criminal case brought against an Idaho citizen
for alleged violation of the Clean Water Act. We were commissioned to research the land upon
which the alleged violation took place and to characterize the land in its natural and historical
pre-development state. As part of that charge, Dr. Jennifer Stevens and other SHRA historians
analyzed the historical evidence concerning the presence or absence of water and the impact of
irrigation development to aid in determining whether or not the water on the land in question
met the requirements to be considered a “water of the United States,” as defined by case law and

Dr. Stevens served as a court-appointed expert and submitted an expert report on the matter. The
case was settled successfully out of court.

Ada County Highway District v. Settlers Irrigation District, CV-OC-0605904 (Idaho) (2008-

This dispute centered on the Clean Water Act and whether the Highway District was legally
entitled to dump its storm water in the Irrigation District’s facilities. The key historical question
in this research was whether the “facility” had historically been a natural water course, with a clearly defined bed and banks. SHRA conducted historical research on the matter on behalf
of the irrigation district. Our researchers utilized historic maps, engineering records, and other
General Land Office archival materials to provide an expert narrative report on the history of the
area. Dr. Stevens provided one (1) day of deposition testimony before the matter was settled out
of court.

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