Redefining 'Waters of the United States' (WOTUS): Recent Developments [September 30, 2021] [open pdf - 2MB]
From the Introduction: "Congress established the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, also known as the Clean Water Act (CWA), to restore and protect the quality of the nation's surface waters. The CWA protects 'navigable waters,' defined in the statute as 'waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.' The scope of this term--'waters of the United States,' or WOTUS--determines which waters are federally regulated and has been the subject of debate for decades. The CWA does not define the term. Thus, in implementing the CWA, the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)--the two agencies that administer the statute--have defined the term in regulations. For several decades, successive presidential administrations have struggled to interpret the term 'waters of the United States' for the purpose of implementing various requirements of the CWA, and courts have been asked repeatedly to review the regulations and policy expressing those interpretations. [...] Actions by the courts, the Biden Administration, and Congress all have the potential to continue to alter the scope of federal jurisdiction under the CWA. This report examines the actions taken by the Obama, Trump, and Biden Administrations to define 'waters of the United States,' along with related legislation and case law."
CRS Report for Congress, R46927
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/