Proposed Change to Waters of the U.S. Definition Could Impact Your Development

March 21, 2019 by Megan Silva

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency are proposing a new “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

This redefinition is in response to the 2015 Clean Water Rule definition which broadened the interpretation of WOTUS. Previous definitions expanded federal control of additional water courses causing many developments to require additional study, reporting, and lengthy federal permitting.

Waters of the United States Revision

The proposed revisions recommended by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would reduce federal control and include the following:

  • Outlines six clearly defined categories of WOTUS- traditional navigable waters, tributaries, certain ditches that are navigable or affected by tide, lakes and ponds, impoundments, and wetlands that abut or are connected to waters of the United States. Interstate waters is eliminated as a category of WOTUS.
  • Proposes that most ditches should not be subject to federal control
  • Proposes that groundwater, prior converted cropland and storm water control systems in upland areas are not subject to federal jurisdiction
  • Excludes ephemeral features that only contain water during rainfall from federal regulation

The proposed rule is currently in the comment period by the general public. To review the revised definition and submit a formal comment, visit this link: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/02/14/2019-00791/revised-definition-of-waters-of-the-united-states.

What does this all mean for your development project? Contact Our Experts today to see how this proposed change may affect you. 

Written by Megan Silva

Megan Silva

Megan Silva, P.E. is a Civil Team Leader based in our Dallas office. Her expertise includes Storm Water Pollution Prevention, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Hydrology & Hydraulics, and Site Development.