Late last month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal Clean Water Act applies to pollution of groundwater that flows to nearby surface waters so long as it is equivalent to direct discharge, strengthening the need for sophisticated groundwater science to help inform decisions on regulating water pollution.
“Computer models coupled with direct observations of water flow, pollution levels, and geology can predict how chemicals are likely to flow and interact with the chemistry of surrounding rocks. But ‘there are huge uncertainties to this,’ says Thomas Harter, who studies groundwater pollution from California farms. ‘It’s not unlike trying to predict the weather.’ (During oral argument of the case in November 2019, however, Justice Stephen Breyer remarked that briefs laying out the science of tracking groundwater pollution had impressed him. ‘The scientists really convinced me they’re geniuses and they can trace all kinds of things,’ he said)”.
To learn more about the Supreme Court ruling, read the full article at ScienceMag.org.