Ag News

EPA, Corps of Engineers propose new waters of the U.S. definition

On Dec. 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) proposed a new definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act, according to an EPA press release. The proposal which would replace the 2015 WOTUS rule, contains a straightforward definition that would result in significant cost savings, protect the nation’s navigable waters, help sustain economic growth, and reduce barriers to business development.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the newly proposed Clean Water Rule would empower America’s farmers and ranchers to protect the nation’s water resources and provide much-needed regulatory clarity to guide those stewardship efforts.

The agencies’ proposed rule would provide clarity, predictability and consistency so that the regulated community can easily understand where the Clean Water Act applies—and where it does not, the release said.

Under the agencies’ proposal, traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, certain ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters would be federally regulated. It also details what are not “waters of the United States,” such as features that only contain water during or in response to rainfall; groundwater; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; stormwater control features; and waste treatment systems.

The EPA and the Army will also hold an informational webcast on Jan. 10, 2019, and will host a listening session on the proposed rule in Kansas City, Kansas, on Jan. 23, 2019.

More information including a pre-publication version of the Federal Register notice, the supporting analyses and fact sheets are available at https://www.epa.gov/wotus-rule.