EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Release Proposed Rule to Clarify Clean Water Act Jurisdiction

EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) have jointly released a proposed rule to clarify the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The proposed rule is designed to clarify definitions of streams and wetlands that apply to all CWA programs, consistent with the Supreme Court’s reading of the Act’s jurisdiction.  The following are highlights of what, in EPA’s view, the proposed rule does and does not include:
The proposed rule does: 

  •         Reduce confusion about CWA protection
  •         Clarify the types of waters covered under the CWA, based on science to:
    • Protect most seasonal and rain dependent streams
    • Protect wetlands near rivers and streams
    • Allow uncertain connections with other types of waters to be determined by case specific evaluations
  •         Save businesses time and money
  •         Provide more benefits to public than costs
  •         Help states to protect their waters
  •         Preserve existing (and adds new) exemptions and exclusions for agricultural activities

The proposed rule does not:

  •         Protect any new types of waters
  •         Broaden coverage of the CWA
  •         Regulate groundwater
  •         Expand jurisdiction over ditches

The proposed rule will be open for public comment for 90 days from publication in the Federal Register and the interpretive rule for agricultural activities is effective immediately.  The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort during the 90 day time period to include holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule.  For more information, and to view the proposed rule, visit EPA’s web site at: http://www2.epa.gov/uswaters.