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April 28, 2020

Trump Administration Publishes Final Rule to Replace WOTUS

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers published in the Federal Register a final rule to replace the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.

The rule, which defines the scope of waters federally regulated under the Clean Water Act, is effective June 22, and has been named the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR).

The NWPR seeks to provide regulatory certainty for industry across multiple sectors, including agriculture, and to support good environmental outcomes while also reducing the unnecessary cost and complications that come with duplicative regulations, like the WOTUS rule.

According to the EPA, the NWPR maintains federal authority to protect the quality of navigable waters and the core tributaries that flow into them. At the same time, the rule makes clear those waters which are not covered by federal authority and will continue to be protected under state, tribal and local regulations, including:

  • Features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall.
  • Groundwater.
  • Many ditches, including most roadside and farm ditches.
  • Farm and stock watering ponds.
  • Waste treatment systems.
  • Prior converted cropland.