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South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe

Docket No.: 02-626
Certiorari Granted: Jun 27 2003
Argued: January 14, 2004
Decided: March 23, 2004

Topics:

Federal Water Pollution Control (Clean Water), plus amendments, Economic Activity, Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, Clean Water, Clean Water Act, EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, Indians, patent

PartyNames: South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, et al.
Petitioner: South Florida Water Management District
Respondent: Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, et al.

Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Citation: CA 11, 280 F.3d 1364. QUESTIONS PRESENTED The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is the governmental agencythat manages an extensive system of lev ees and canals throughout populous south Florida and the Everglades region. For decades it has pumped public waters toprevent catastrophic flooding and allocate water supply. For thirty years, the federal and state agencies responsible for the Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program have considered the SFWMD's movement of water to fall outside the scope of the federal NPDES permit programbecause nothing is "added" to the naviga ble waters from the pumps. The Eleventh
Supreme Court Docket

South Florida Water Management District
v.
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians, et al.
541 U.S. 95 (2004)
Background:

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is the governmental agencythat manages an extensive system of lev ees and canals throughout populous south Florida and the Everglades region. For decades it has pumped public waters toprevent catastrophic flooding and allocate water supply. For thirty years, the federal and state agencies responsible for the Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program have considered the SFWMD's movement of water to fall outside the scope of the federal NPDES permit programbecause nothing is "added" to the naviga ble waters from the pumps. The Eleventh Circuit, in conflict with decisions from other courts of appeals and without deference to the agencies, concluded that because the pumped water contains somepollutants that would not reach the receiving water "but for" the pumping, such pumping alone constitutes an "addition" of pollutants requiring an NPDES permit. The questions presented, which are of great national importance, are:

Consideration Limited:

Limited to question 1 presented by the petition.

Question Presented:

1. Whether the pumping of water by a state water management agency that adds nothing to the water being pumped constitutes an "addition" of a pollutant "from" apoint source triggering the need for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit under the Clean Water Act. 2. Whether the court below should have deferred to the consistent and long-held federal and state agency position that the SFWMD's pumping does not constitute an "addition" that requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. CERT. GRANTED: 6/27/03 Limited to question 1 presented by the petition.

Question:

Does pumping water into a water conservation area - where the water being pumped contains a pollutant but the pumping station itself adds no pollutants to the water - violate the Clean Water Act's prohibition of adding pollutants from a point source?

Note:

. CA 11, 280 F.3d 1364.

South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe
ORAL ARGUMENT

January 14, 2004

Holding: vacated and remanded
Decision: Decision: 9 votes for South Florida Water Management District, 0 vote(s) against
Vote: 9-0
Opinion By:
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