Document Type


Publication Date



This past January the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Clean Water Act (CWA) did not authorize the federal government to prohibit a landfill operator from filling isolated ponds on its property merely because the ponds were used as habitat by migratory birds. The National Association of Home Builders claimed that the decision in Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC) was "a major legal victory for home builders and other private property owners." Critics of the SWANCC decision argued that it jeopardizes "perhaps a fifth of the water bodies in the United States." The timing of the Court's decision was particularly disheartening to wetlands protection advocates, since the ruling was announced shortly after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released a report that indicated that the annual rate of wetlands loss has been declining steadily.