The U.S. Supreme Court this fall will decide if the operator of an underground injection control well is required to have a federal point source discharge permit or if the well is regulated under state rules.

Following a lower court ruling, operators of a municipal waste water treatment plant in Hawaii filed an appeal claiming the ruling “created a new test for whether a Clean Water Act NPDES permit is required.”

The treatment plant disposed of 3 – 5MM gal/day treated water in a shallow UIC well. The original lawsuit against the operator declared the water migrated through bedrock to the Pacific where it damaged coral reefs. The operator argued a federal permit is required only when a point source discharges pollution directly into a waterway.