PITTSBURGH — Thursday, at an event at the US Army Corp of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District Office, EPA Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio, USACE Deputy Commander Jon Klink, and Representative Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., celebrated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The rule provides a new, clear definition for “waters of the United States” — delivering on President Trump’s promise to finalize a revised definition for “waters of the United States” that protects the nation’s navigable waters from pollution and will result in economic growth across the country.
“EPA and the Army are providing much needed regulatory certainty and predictability for American farmers, landowners and businesses to support the economy and accelerate critical infrastructure projects,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “After decades of landowners relying on expensive attorneys to determine what water on their land may or may not fall under federal regulations, our new Navigable Waters Protection Rule strikes the proper balance between Washington and the states in managing land and water resources while protecting our nation’s navigable waters, and it does so within the authority Congress provided.”
Thompson said this will help American farmers and landowners.
“For decades, unclear regulatory definitions under the Clean Water Act have placed undue burdens on farmers, private landowners, and counties nationwide. Often, this ambiguity has left enforcement agencies, courts, and private citizens with contradictory, piecemeal opinions and drawn out regulatory reviews,” said Thompson. “In March 2017, President Trump took the first action at repealing the flawed WOTUS Rule. Today, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule will be a positive step in the right direction to bring clarity to the ‘navigable waters’ definition, while protecting states’ authority under the Clean Water Act.”
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule ends decades of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends. For the first time, EPA and the Army are recognizing 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 – among the best in the world – remain strong, while giving our 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 clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act: the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters. These four categories protect the nation’s navigable waters and the core tributary systems that flow into those waters. For example, the new rule helps ensure that territorial seas and traditional navigable waters, like the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River; perennial and intermittent tributaries, such as College Creek, which flows to the James River near Williamsburg, Virginia; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments, such as Children’s Lake in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters are protected.
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.
All states have their own protections for waters within their borders and many already regulate more broadly than the federal government. This action gives states and tribes more flexibility in determining how best to manage their land and water resources while protecting the nation’s navigable waters as intended by Congress when it enacted the Clean Water Act.