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The firm's lawyers are described as “exceptionally smart, experienced, hard-working and responsive, with good instincts and great working relationships with government leaders and staffers.”

Sources further value the firm for its “deep, relevant experience.”

Chambers USA 2017

Water Quality

Latham advises US and global clients on regulatory, transactional, and litigation matters associated with water quality issues and water resource planning, including plenary expertise under US clean water laws.

Water Quality
Advising on Water Quality Management and Compliance

Latham water quality lawyers draw on wide-ranging experience to assist US and global clients in complying with federal, state, and local water quality laws. The practice regularly advises on the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, California's Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (also known as Proposition 65), as well as the water quality laws of many other state and local jurisdictions.

As a global leader in environmental law, Latham leverages market-leading regulatory, transactional, and litigation experience to help a range of clients, including: financial institutions, energy and manufacturing companies, private lenders, developers, water suppliers, public and private utilities, states, as well as local and regional agencies and water districts, to navigate the complex and sometimes competing array of federal, state, and local water quality laws.

Specifically, Latham navigates clients through requirements related to:

  • Cooling water intake structures and thermal discharge issues
  • Federal and state rulemakings
  • Jurisdictional waters determinations and controversies
  • Point source and jurisdiction-wide permitting
  • Regulatory enforcement, citizen-suits and private-party litigation
  • Stormwater and urban runoff management and permitting
  • Total maximum daily load (TMDL) proceedings
  • Triennial review and revision of water quality standards and control plans
  • Water quality certification, dredge and fill permits
  • Water treatment and groundwater remediation issues
  • Watershed-based programs/regional best management practices 
Delivering Quality Insight

Latham lawyers collaborate to leverage a broad base of experience and multidisciplinary knowledge of overlapping federal, state, and regional/local regulations applicable to water quality issues. The firm works closely with clients to develop cutting-edge legal and business strategies based on a comprehensive understanding of water quality law and science.

Latham’s practice includes former regulators, government officials, and environmental engineers who leverage their insight to advocate on behalf of clients for legislative and administrative resolutions that facilitate project approvals, permitting, or other regulatory action. Latham lawyers coordinate closely with leading scientists and engineers to use current science to support advocacy for clients and science-based policy positions.

Representative Outcomes

Latham draws on unparalleled experience in developing innovative solutions to water quality issues across some of the most complex, high-stakes projects, transactions, and litigation. Representative matters include:

  • Secured a US Supreme Court victory for a publicly traded energy company in a ruling holding that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may consider cost-benefit analysis under CWA regulations. The case concerned regulations governing the operation of cooling water intake structures at major electric power plants and retrofits the EPA would have required that would have cost tens of billions of dollars. Latham persuaded the Supreme Court to review a controversial Second Circuit decision, notwithstanding the federal government’s opposition to the review. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the client and other power plant operators in a 6-3 decision.
  • Represented the largest wholesale water supplier in the US in advocacy efforts for new federal CWA permit conditions requiring a sanitation district to install state-of-the-art pollution controls to dramatically reduce ammonia and pathogen discharges to the Sacramento River
  • Represented developers, industry clients, and public and private utilities in connection with Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans, 401 certifications, 404 dredge and fill permits, and stormwater permitting and compliance
  • Represented a global technology company in connection with multi-party litigation regarding alleged groundwater contamination in a groundwater basin that serves as the principal water supply for one of the country’s most densely populated counties
  • Represented client in successful regulatory advocacy related to implementation of amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act (the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act)
  • Represented one of the nation’s largest manufacturers and the former largest manufacturer of DDT in multi-year TMDL rulemakings regarding persistent legacy pollutants in San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor complex 

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