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Clean Water Act Updates: Will Changes to WOTUS and the Water Quality Certification Rule Affect Your Project?


By Irina Lapina and Taya MacLean 

Section 404 Waters of the United States definitions

Recently, Waters of the United States (WOTUS) definitions under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act changed, which will have an immediate effect on any project proposing impacts to streams, lakes, ponds, ditches, or/and wetlands.

In August 2021, the most recent WOTUS definitions and rule was vacated nationwide following a U.S. District Court of Arizona order. The order takes us back to the pre-2015 definition of WOTUS from 1986 and the Supreme Court’s 2006 Rapanos and Carabell decisions regarding significant nexus. Based on the pre-2015 significant nexus rule, the agencies will place greater protection over wetlands or waters for which “flow characteristics and functions would significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream traditional navigable waters.”

Wetla... (more)


Defining ‘Waters of The United States’ and Why it Matters for the Watershed Management Community


By John Phillips, ENV SP

On April 15, 2019, The United States Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers closed the public comment period on a rulemaking process to redefine “waters of the United States.” This definition has been an on-going discussion in the watershed management community for several decades.

What is the Clean Water Act?

Let’s start at the beginning by giving some background on the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the “waters of the United States.” The law was enacted in 1948 and was originally called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act but was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. "Clean Water Act" became the common name with amendments in 1972. The law has since prevented pollution from industries and created a massive investment in wast... (more)