Federal Court Refuses To Interfere With State CWA Permitting Process.

The plaintiff operates an egg farm and, in accordance with state (NC) law, constructed a detention pond near a hen house for surface water control purposes.  The pond also collect small amounts of dust, feathers and manure.  The pond does not discharge directly into state or federal waters, but does periodically discharge accumulated rainfall and debris into a nearby canal which the defendant claimed requires a state-issued permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The plaintiff unsuccessfully challenged the permit requirement administratively, and then filed the present action in federal court seeking an order that incidental discharge qualified as ag stormwater which is exempt from the CWA permit requirements at the state level.  The court held that it lacked jurisdiction to consider the matter.  The court noted that the only way it could possible hear the case was if state law implicated significant federal issues, but ultimately determined that if it took the case it would upset a "congressionally approved balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities."  The court determined that, under the CWA, no federal right of action was created to allow the challenge of state permitting decisions.  The court also declined to exercise declaratory-judgment jurisdiction noting that NC courts had a strong interest in reviewing state CWA permitting decisions and that hearing the case would create "unnecessary entanglement" between federal and state courts.  Rose Acre Farms, Inc. v. North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, et al., No. 5:14-CV-147-D, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99628 (E.D. N.C. Jul. 30, 2015).