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Supreme Court protects Everglades from pollutants

On March 23, 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that pollutants cannot be pumped into US waters without a Clean Water Act discharge permit. This decision came in a case brought by the Miccosukee Tribe, challenging the South Florida Water Management District's failure to seek a Clean Water Act permit before pumping pollutants from a stormwater canal into the Florida Everglades. Earthjustice filed two friend of the court briefs supporting the tribe's suit. The Supreme Court sided with the tribe, and disagreed with the water district's argument that it did not need a permit because its pump merely conveys pollutants that originate elsewhere and is not the source of pollutants.

The court sidestepped another issue of the case, however, when it avoided a decision on whether permits are required when pollutants from one navigable body of water are channeled into another. This part of the case will likely return to district court in Florida.