A revised rule specifying the scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act was proposed by the U.S. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers on December 11. This marks the latest development in the definition of "Waters of the US" or WOTUS.
While clean water is essential for healthy communities, the scope of federal jurisdiction has been controversial and the subject of several Supreme Court rulings. The 2015 rule took the position that if any water had a connection however ephemeral to navigable water, then it was subject to federal regulation under the Clean Water Act. This interpretation would have required property owners to seek greater numbers of permits for activities spanning development and operations and covering topics related to wetlands, cleaning drainage swales and stormwater runoff.
NMHC, as a founding member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, has submitted extensive comments on the 2015 rule as it was developed and subsequently issued; we also met with Administration officials to discuss our concerns.
As previously reported, the rule was highly controversial. Lawsuits to block the rule were filed by 31 states and ultimately the rule was stayed and the pre-2015 regulations were in effect, creating confusion on the part of regulators and land owners.
The new proposal has a slightly tighter focus on waters that fall under federal purview and recognizes the role of states in preserving clean water sources.
NMHC/NAA will continue to monitor this issue. To learn more, please visit our Clean Water Act Wetlands and Stormwater page.