‘Waters of the US’ Guidance Sent to OMB

Earlier this week, EPA announced that the draft final guidance “…to clarify protection of waters under the Clean Water Act…” has been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for Federal interagency review. According to the Agency, the guidance will provide more predictable and consistent procedures for identifying waters and wetlands protected under the Clean Water Act. Meanwhile, work continues on a proposed regulatory solution.

The guidance, a collaborative effort between EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, is focused on protection of smaller waters that feed into larger ones, to keep downstream water safe from upstream pollutants. The focus is also on reaffirming protection for wetlands that filter pollution and store water and help keep communities safe from floods.

As noted on the Agency’s website, “The guidance will not extend Federal protection to any waters not historically protected under the Clean Water Act and will be fully consistent with the law, including decisions of the Supreme Court. The guidance will also maintain all of the existing exemptions for agricultural discharges and waters, and also identify specific types of water bodies to which it does not apply – areas like artificial lakes and ponds, and many types of drainage and irrigation ditches.”