What is a WOTUS? Email
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 04:58 PM


Waters of the USWhat's a WOTUS?
In June 2014, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, released a proposed rule (known as Waters of the United States, or WOTUS) in order to, in their words, "clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources." The rule describe which waters can be federally regulated under the Clean Water Act.

Why should the landscape industry care about the WOTUS rule?

Many in the landscape, agriculture and manufacturing sectors read the rule as having the ability to control what people can build or plant in or around streams, ponds, ditches and stormwater runoff areas, greatly expanding the scope of waters subject to the Clean Water Act (CWA) regulation well beyond the law’s intent. Under current law, the CWA applies to “navigable waters.” Under the proposed rule, permits may be required for activities such as removing debris and vegetation from a ditch, applying pesticides, and building a fence or pond or be required by cities when discharging pollutants. Permitting can be a costly and time-consuming process that requires small businesses to hire attorneys and environmental consultants. In addition, the future development potential of certain land may be affected, which could diminish its value. Businesses also could be subject to litigation under citizen suit provisions of the CWA.

This is as an example of extreme government overreach that could hurt business and control what people do on their properties. We are lobbying to stop the implementation of the rule.

What is the status of the rule? Is it effective now?
On May 12, 2015, the House passed H.R.1732 - Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, which "preserves existing rights and responsibilities with respect to waters of the United States, and for other purposes." If passed, it would require the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the proposed WOTUS rule.

ALCC and NALP continue to lobby for passage of this act and the withdrawal of the rule.

Further reading on this topic:
EPA "Documents Related to the Proposed Definition of 'Waters of the United States' Under the Clean Water Act"
Legislative Hearing on S. 1140, The Federal Water Quality Protection Act (archived webcast from 5/19/2015)


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