Final WOTUS Rule Out
On January 23, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers released a new rule defining the Waters of the United States and clarifying federal authority under the Clean Water Act. While we are reviewing the details of the final rule, we believe the rule will provide much-needed clarity about which water bodies are subject to federal regulation and which will be regulated by states. In addition to the confusing definitions, the 2015 rule had been the subject of numerous lawsuits and as a result, was only implemented in some of the states. The new rule is similar to a proposed rule that the two agencies issued in December 2018.
The 2015 Clean Water Act Rule, which this rule replaces, expanded the scope of waters subject to the Clean Water Act to nearly all water bodies and included a host of definitions that were subject to interpretation. Under the new rule, the federal government will continue to have regulatory jurisdiction over permanent waterways, such as lakes, rivers, streams and other bodies that always or usually contain water, but usually dry areas will not generally be considered federal waters.
EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers will hold a webinar to explain the key provisions of the new rule on February 13, 2020. Additional information on the rule and a link to the webinar are available.