Part I provides a background to the Clean Water Act (“CWA”), including a brief review of its history, structure, and the development of water quality standards. The analysis in Part II.A explores the states' responsibilities in compiling a list of impaired water under CWA § 303(d), while Part II.B reviews the evolution of the “natural conditions” exception in case law, state regulation, and EPA policy and guidance. Part II.C evaluates the validity of the “natural conditions” exception from three frameworks—scientific, public policy, and legal—and raises serious questions as to whether deviatory water quality standards cohere with the principles and purposes of the CWA. Finally, Part III offers solutions to the scientific, policy and legal problems inhered in a “natural conditions” exception and recommends the EPA promulgate policies that demand more extensive documentation from authorized state agencies and more intensive review by the EPA where stream segments have been removed from the impaired waters list because their condition was solely based on natural conditions.
Note, Holding Nature Responsible: The Natural Conditions Exception to Water Quality Standards of the Clean Water, 56 Clev. St. L. Rev. 1057 (2008)