In a clear and well-reasoned opinion, the court held that Congress had waived sovereign immunity with respect to the fees and that the fees would be valid (and BPA would be required to pay the fees) if the city could show that the fees did not discriminate, were based on a fair approximation of use and were not excessive in relation to the benefit that they conferred.
While the Department of Justice has since decided to forego an appeal in Renton (which was decided by a federal district court), DOJ is now focusing on a case in which DeKalb County, GA, has sued to collect stormwater fees from the U.S. Post Office and other federal agencies. This case is being heard in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, a venue more to the DOJ’s liking. Both DeKalb County and the National Association of Clean Water Agencies have asked the claims court to consider the Renton decision. If DeKalb County can show that its fees are reasonable and that it meets the requirements of the statute, it is likely that the claims court will follow the Renton decision, sending a signal that federal agencies must pay appropriately designed and reasonable fees established under Section 313 of the Clean Water Act.