B&D has assisted companies for over 45 years in National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting proceedings. B&D advises on all aspects of wastewater management, permitting, compliance, and enforcement defense. We have decades of significant experience with a full suite of NPDES permit issues—including applications, renewals, modifications, permit shield issues, strategies for dealing with technically infeasible water quality effluent limitations, and defense of citizen suits. We have also worked on cases involving impaired water body designations.

Our practice involves advising industrial clients on a wide variety of NPDES permit compliance and strategy issues. A growing trend in recent years is federal and state regulators’ imposition of stringent water quality effluent limitations in permits with three-year compliance schedules where technology does not exist, or is prohibitively expensive to implement. We have significant experience working with clients and regulators to develop tailored solutions to technically impracticable permit situations.

Our water practitioners represent clients in administrative and civil litigation, citizen suits, and criminal proceedings. We have secured and upheld in appellate courts favorable consent decrees for municipal wastewater systems faced with regulatory enforcement actions brought by DOJ and state agencies and favorably settled enforcement actions and citizen suits coast to coast.

Our lawyers bring experience from EPA, DOJ, and state agencies and a deep understanding of publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) to provide best-in-class counseling, informal and formal dispute resolution guidance, and court room advocacy.

Our team works with municipal agencies operating POTWs that are responsible for wastewater collection, treatment, and discharge. Many of our municipal and government clients also provide water supply services in the communities where they operate (link to Drinking Water/SDWA Tab)

Our wastewater experience is further enhanced by our robust Biosolids practice.

Select Representative Work

  • B&D filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) in County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, 140 S. Ct. 1462 (2020), a major case concerning the scope of the CWA NPDES program. We advise clients on the implications of the Maui decision for NPDES permit applicability to operations previously considered not covered, but under current law at risk for coverage, by the NPDES permit program.
  • B&D secured dismissal of a path-breaking citizen suit filed against a major oil and gas company in federal district court in Oklahoma alleging that injection of oil and gas production wastewater in underground wells by oil and gas companies is causing earthquakes that endanger the public.
  • B&D successfully negotiated with EPA on behalf of an oil and gas concern to prevent a threatened enforcement action under the Underground Injection Control Program.
  • B&D represented a major transportation industry association and others in rulemaking challenges to relevant federal, state, and local underground injection requirements.
  • B&D defended BNSF Railway in a large environmental citizen suit. In a case of first impression, plaintiffs sought to halt the rail transportation of coal by seeking significant Clean Water Act penalties and injunctive relief for the alleged release of fugitive coal dust from all rail cars and trains traveling near navigable waters in Washington. The successfully negotiated settlement included funding of a supplemental environmental project (SEP) and agreement to test available rail car cover prototypes but no payment of a civil penalty.