Water Quality

"Acts on matters across the full range of environmental law, including air and water compliance and enforcement issues."

Chambers USA 2020

Baker Botts has a deep and broad body of experience with all types of water quality issues, including permitting, compliance counseling, spill response, resolving agency enforcements and participating in the development of water quality regulations. We have represented clients to secure discharge permits, including through contested case hearings, and to address myriad issues from ocean acidification, to storm water permitting, to Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure rule compliance among others. For example, we have worked with clients to clarify the extent of federal jurisdiction over wetlands under Section 404 of the CWA and counseled clients through the associated Army Corps of Engineers jurisdictional determination and permitting process. Current judicial decisions vary widely concerning the scope of the Corps’ authority to regulate wetlands, and a lack of uniform regulatory practices among Corps districts has created considerable confusion among landowners.

Much of our water quality experience, such as permitting, draws from our substantial work in the energy industry, including compliance counseling related to numerous power plants and oil and gas facilities. We develop proactive permitting strategies by working with technical and government relations experts to identify key issues, determine the project’s critical path and develop strategies for avoiding or prevailing against any contest. We have a proven track record of coordinating effective permitting processes and, in the case of protests, developing strong administrative records that withstand administrative and judicial challenges.

With one of the largest environmental practices in the country, we are able to handle a number of cross-disciplinary and cross-border water issues—including issues that arise during international infrastructure projects. We also help clients address on-shore and off-shore releases of petroleum or hazardous substances. For example, we deployed our team to the command center for a recent oil spill response, proactively issue spotting and coordinating legal considerations to streamline future activities associated with potential enforcement and natural resource damage claims.

Our water quality services include:

  • Compliance counseling
  • Strategic permitting
  • Litigation
  • Legislative and regulatory development
  • Drinking water issues
  • Oil Pollution Act issues


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