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Supreme Court Ruling Means Companies like Big Sky Must Negotiate Groundwater Disputes

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation it is best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.

Last month the US Supreme Court ruled that a sewage treatment plant in Hawaii required a permit to send wastewater into the ground. The sewage was seeping out of wells where it was held, and had been found to damage a coral reef near Maui beach. Previously, companies were using the Clean Water Act to dodge the effects that leaking waste might have on bodies of water, leaning on the rationale that the waste wasn’t traveling directly to the water bodies via a pipe that required a permit.

Now, environmental and conservation groups are planning to sue the Big Sky sewage treatment plant near Bozeman for the same likely environmental affects that the Hawaii plant was responsible for. As in Hawaii, the groups say dyes have revealed higher concentrations of chemicals like nitrogen and chlorine below waste storage ponds than above them, indicating that the chemicals are leaching into the soil and nearby waterways. The Big Sky sewage treatment plant says the storage ponds are not polluting the groundwater.

Unfortunately for the Big Sky Sewage Company, the odds of success in any kind of litigation has changed overnight with the Supreme Court Ruling. Additionally, with a new public awareness of the precious nature of water supplies under pressure of climate change and the responsibility polluters have to address our common water resources, companies like Big Sky will be waging a losing battle on the PR front.

A Better Way to Protect What is Most Important

Luckily, there is a way to save time and money and preserve precious resources, and that is to mediate the dispute with all the relevant stakeholders. Whether it’s farmers worried about clean water supplies, environmental groups, or the industries themselves, water mediation is increasingly recognized as the best way to resolve complex disputes about our most precious common resource.

Cases may be decided in court, but disagreements are all too likely to erupt in the future if these rulings are excessively narrow. To avoid future conflict, it is better to make agreements that are built to last rather than fight in court. At Boileau Conflict Solutions we are expert mediators who have an environmental and conservation background. We are also legal and financial experts with a psychoanalytical and mathematical skillset that adds depth and structure to our mediations. Conflict so often causes a “tragedy of the commons,” whereby mutual resources are wasted through pursuing a winner takes all strategy. To avert the destructiveness of conflict, we use game theory to reassure stakeholders that the common interest is consciously identified and protected. Our mediations can help all stake-holders to find their roles as custodians in complex community and environmental disputes, rather than combatants who are sure to lose time, money and public esteem.

We are a group of well-educated mediators and negotiators with financial, legal, and psychological backgrounds who can analyze your land or water conflict and provide win-win solution sets, using analysis, consultation, mediation, or negotiation. Water is the basis for our human survival, so it’s easy to see how conflicts can quickly become emotional. We recognize that conflicts about water rights can have deep historical roots and require a thorough analysis of sustainable solutions, drawing on the knowledge of experts and parties alike. By employing careful scientific, mathematical, and legal knowledge, recognizing the important values and interests of all stakeholders, and utilizing practical techniques informed by game theory, psychology, and solid strategic and tactical techniques, we can help any and all parties achieve their goals. This approach to conflict avoids costly and protracted litigation, creates sustainable solutions, and develops long-lasting relationships that can pave the way for increased co-operation and better policy on water management and rights. Conflicts over water come in a wide variety of forms: water quality, grazing rights, stream rights, usage rights, community rights, groundwater and surface water and drainage conflicts to name just a few. We can mediate any and all conflicts over water, saving money and crafting solutions built to last for both individuals and the community. During the Coronavirus crisis we are offering accessible, safe remote mediations via videoconferencing platforms like Zoom or Facetime. All remote mediations are completely confidential with the added security of a private, encrypted server. We are available 7 days a week and at urgent notice. Please contact us to see how we can help.

Read More:

https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/news/environment/local-groups-say-big-sky-sewage-pond-leaking-into-river/article_920aaa96-3547-5fa9-9b52-636ee2194dd4.html

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