Regional Water-Supply Development and CWA Section 404

by William E. Cox, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Water Resources Planning and Management and Urban Water Resources


Regional water-supply development is generally promoted because of potential cost savings and improved system management, but regionalization may also provide an opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of water-supply operations. This opportunity has been recognized in the implementation of the Clean Water Act section 404 permit program. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has used its veto power under CWA section 404 to deny an eastern Virginia locality's application for a permit to build a water-supply reservoir because at least in part of the applicant's failure to adequately consider a regional approach to water-supply management. Although the case currently is in litigation, it has important implications for water-supply management in Virginia and beyond. With respect to Virginia, the case indicates the need for greater state involvement in water-supply management. In the broader context, the case raises significant questions concerning the appropriate boundary between federal and state water-management authority.

Subject Headings: Water supply | Clean Water Act | Water resources | Systems management | Permits | Federal government | Environmental issues | Reservoirs | Virginia | United States

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