EPA and the Army Corps' Proposed Rule to Define 'Waters of the United States' [June 29, 2015]   [open pdf - 417KB]

"This report describes the final revised rule--which the agencies refer to as the Clean Water Rule (CWA)--and includes a table comparing the existing regulatory language that defines 'waters of the United States' with the revisions. The rule is particularly focused on clarifying the regulatory status of surface waters located in isolated places in a landscape. It does not modify some categories of waters that are jurisdictional under existing rules (traditional navigable waters, interstate waters and wetlands, the territorial seas, and impoundments). The rule also lists waters that would not be jurisdictional, such as prior converted cropland and certain ditches. It makes no change to existing statutory exclusions, such as CWA permit exemptions for normal farming and ranching activities. The rule will replace EPA-Corps guidance that was issued in 2003 and 2008, which has guided agency interpretation of the Court's rulings but also has caused considerable confusion. Much of the controversy since the Supreme Court rulings has focused on the degree to which isolated waters and small streams are jurisdictional. Under the EPA-Corps guidance, many of these waters have required case-specific evaluation to determine if jurisdiction applies. Under the final rule, some of these waters would continue to need case-specific review, but fewer than under the existing agency guidance documents. The final rule also explicitly excludes specified waters from the definition of 'waters of the United States' (e.g., prior converted croplands, stormwater management systems, and groundwater)."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R43455
Public Domain
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