Recently, there has been an increase in the number of lawsuits filed by private citizens or organizations, primarily environmental groups, under the Clean Water Act (CWA) alleging that businesses have released pollutants or otherwise acted in violation of their required storm water permits. For example, in California, more than 100 notices of violation that are the required precursor to such a citizen’s suit were issued in 2015–16. Many of the notices concern alleged violations of a business’s storm water pollution prevention plan. This article provides an overview of the storm water permit program under the CWA, identifies the most common violations, and suggests methods to limit exposure to enforcement actions or citizen suits.
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