The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the final Navigable Waters Protection Rule to define “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS). This rule has been an ongoing effort to reverse the previous WOTUS rule adopted in 2012, which RCRC opposed as a jurisdictional overreach, and inappropriate expansion of federal authority over bodies of water not previously controlled by the federal government.
The expansion of federal authority over these waters could have resulted in delays in important local public works projects such as maintenance of flood conveyances that could ultimately endanger public safety.
The new rule provides clear guidance on what is and is not a navigable water of the United States, and excludes such things as ditches and wastewater treatment systems—waterways that were vaguely included in the previous WOTUS rule. Thursday’s announcement helps ensure that local governments will be able to continue providing public health and safety services such as maintaining vital flood conveyances and storm drainage systems without an extra layer of bureaucracy that ultimately does little to protect the nation’s waterways.
The pre-publication version of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule can be accessed here.