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Waters of the U.S. / Clean Water Act

 

NWRA POSITION

NWRA supports the Environmental Protection Agency’s repeal of the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule and replacing it with a new rule that clearly identifies what is covered by the Clean Water Act (CWA) in order to provide regulatory certainty to business.


BACKGROUND

WOTUS expanded the jurisdiction of the CWA beyond traditionally navigable waters to include isolated wetlands, ditches, and dry stream beds. The EPA and Department of the Army are putting forward a new rule intended to increase CWA program predictability and consistency by increasing clarity as to the scope of “waters of the United States” federally regulated under the Act.

The agencies’ proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States.” The prospective definition would replace the approach in the 2015 Rule and the pre-2015 regulations.

Under the new rule, the term “waters of the United States” would encompass traditional navigable waters, including the territorial seas; tributaries that contribute perennial or intermittent flow to such waters; certain ditches; certain lakes and ponds; impoundments of otherwise jurisdictional waters; and wetlands adjacent to other jurisdictional waters. The agencies propose as a baseline concept that “waters of the United States” are waters within the ordinary meaning of the term, such as oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands, and that not all waters are “waters of the United States.”

This definition is also intended to clearly implement the overall objective of the CWA to restore and maintain the quality of the nation’s waters while respecting State and tribal authority over their own land and water resources.

 

TALKING POINTS

  • “Waters of the United States” should be limited to traditional navigable waters such as oceans, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, and wetlands for purposes of the federal Clean Water Act.
  • The anticipated rule increases CWA program predictability and consistency by increasing clarity as to the scope of “waters of the United States”.
  • Restoring and maintaining the quality of the nation’s waters while respecting State and tribal authority over their own land and water resources can be done in a compatible manner.

 

Updated January 2020.