EPA Releases New Definition on Waters of the United States

Steve Watters

On Jan. 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Army finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to define “Waters of the United States.” This final rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The revised definition identifies four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated. These included territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds and impoundments; and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters. Note that ephemeral tributaries (i.e., those that flow only in immediate response to rainfall events) waterbodies that are adjacent to them are excluded from regulation under the revised definition.

It also details other exclusions from federal control such as water bodies that are only created due to direct rainfall, groundwater, farm and stock watering ponds and waste treatment systems.

Read the full EPA press release regarding the proposed definition here.

For questions contact Michael Votaw (Fort Worth), Richard Aldredge (Dallas), Tom Dixon (Austin), Dan Gise (Houston) and Ian Jewell (North Carolina)