Golden Gate University Environmental Law Journal


In an effort to examine the implications EPA’s ability to extend Clean Water Act protection through the use of its special-case determination authority, this Article provides a case study of the Los Angeles River and the regulatory interplay between the Army Corps and the EPA. To begin, Part I sets forth the factual background of the LA River, describing its fickle and often volatile physical nature. It then describes the legal framework underlying the case by providing an overview of the Clean Water Act, its shared administration by the EPA and Army Corps, and the basis for the EPA’s special-case authority. Part II then discusses the Army Corps’ initial TNW determination and the EPA’s subsequent application of its special authority to overrule the Army Corps’ determination, while highlighting the agencies’ differing treatment and characterization of evidence used in making the determination. Finally, Part III discusses the potentially far-reaching consequences of the River’s navigability determination within the context of Southern California.