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EPA, Army release new definition for Waters of the US

January 28, 2020 -  By

EPA and the Army Corps announced a new definition for “waters of the United States,” commonly known as “WOTUS.” This is the final 2020 Clean Water Rule, known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States.”

The Navigable Waters Protection Rule highlights the difference between federally protected wetlands and state-protected wetlands. It adheres to the statutory limits of the agencies’ authority. It also ensures that America’s water protections remain strong, while giving states and tribes the certainty to manage their waters in ways that best protect their natural resources and local economies.

The revised definition identifies four categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act:

  • territorial seas and traditional navigable waters;
  • perennial and intermittent tributaries;
  • certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and
  • wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

The new rule defines “adjacent wetlands” as wetlands that are meaningfully connected to other jurisdictional waters, for example, by directly abutting or having regular surface water communication with waters under federal control under the Clean Water Act.

This final action also details what waters are not subject to federal control, including:

  • features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall;
  • groundwater;
  • many ditches, including most farm and roadside ditches;
  • prior converted cropland;
  • farm and stock watering ponds; and
  • waste treatment systems.

More information is available at:

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