Today, at an event at the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James will announce a new, clear definition for “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
With the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are delivering on President Trump’s promise to finalize a revised definition for “waters of the United States” that protects the nation’s navigable waters from pollution and will result in economic growth across the country.
Under the final “Step 2” rule, four clear categories of waters are federally regulated:
- The territorial seas and traditional navigable waters,
- Perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters,
- Certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments, and
- Wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters
The final rule also details 12 categories of exclusions, features that are not “waters of the United States,” such as features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches; prior converted cropland; and waste treatment systems.
The final rule is 340 pages in length, and industry, and agriculture and state and local governments governments around the country are beginning their review.
"At first glance, rule appears to provide a significant level of certainty with regard to what falls in the definition of WOTUS. It establishes a regulatory structure that moves in the direction of bringing clarity to CWA regulation by establishing what categories meet the definition under WOTUS," said Family Farm Alliance Executive Director Dan Keppen. "Just as importantly, is explains what does not.
The Family Farm Alliance last year sent formal comments to EPA and the Corps on the Trump Administration’s proposed revised rule.
"We're comparing our comment letter with those developed for the proposed rule, especially those provisions associated with irrigation ditches and drains," said Mr. Keppen. "We'll keep our membership apprised of our findings."