EPA Revises Definition of ‘Waters of the United States’

Image via U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army have announced establishment of a final rule on the definition of “waters of the United States (WOTUS).”

The final rule restores essential water protections that were in place prior to 2015 under the Clean Water Act for traditional navigable waters, territorial seas and interstate waters, as well as upstream water resources that significantly impact those waters.

The EPA said this action would strengthen fundamental protections for waters that are sources of drinking water, and also support agriculture, local economies and downstream communities.

The EPA also stated that this final rule restores fundamental protections so that the national will be closer to achieving Congress’ goal in the Clean Water Act that American waters be fishable, swimmable and protective of public health.

The two agencies announced their intent to revise the definition of WOTUS on June 9, 2021. On Nov. 18, 2021, the agencies announced the signing of a proposed rule revising the definition of WOTUS.

The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants from a point source into navigable waters, unless otherwise authorized under the Clean Water Act.