• Clean Water Act

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, modern legal questions arise that 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 wetland? SHRA’s answers to these questions help courts and government agencies determine how to regulate a water body.


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.

Land O’Lakes (Minnesota/Oklahoma, 2018-2021) 
SHRA was hired to research and provide a history of this remarkable cooperative enterprise, including its acquisition of an oil refinery to provide cheap fuel for its members, and its compliance with environmental laws including the Clean Water Act. Produced an expert report, a rebuttal report, and deposition testimony. The case was settled favorably out of court.

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 statute.

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) (2008-2009)

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.