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In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the Los Angeles River “navigable” for purposes of enforcing Clean Water Act (CWA) protections, which could limit destruction of the river’s tributaries and wetlands and expand recreational opportunities for the city. The EPA’s declaration was criticized by some as regulatory overreach— “like declaring that pigs will fly” —because the Los Angeles River does not fit within traditional notions of navigability. Others have attempted to remove navigability language from the CWA, suggesting that it is not the appropriate test for environmental protection. After examining the history of the Los Angeles River and providing a background on CWA jurisprudence, this Note argues that the EPA’s case by case approach to declaring navigability is an effective way to uphold the goals of the CWA while expanding CWA protection for the Los Angeles River and other urban and western rivers.


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7 Sep 2022
221 kB



  • Subject
    • Environmental Law

    • Water Law

  • Journal title
    • Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review

  • Volume
    • 39

  • Issue
    • 1

  • Pagination
    • 185

  • Date submitted

    7 September 2022