EPA and Corps of Engineers Expand Clean Water Act Regulations
Washington—Consistent with previous Supreme Court precedents and using best available science, the USEPA and USACE recently released a new Clean Water Rule which protects streams and wetlands that significantly affect the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream waters. The Rule, effective August 28, 2015, extends the legal protection provided by the Clean Water Act to tributaries that feed the traditional navigable waters, adjacent wetlands, and regionally unique wetlands.
Normal farming, ranching, and silvicultural activities continue to be exempt from CWA section 404 permitting requirements.
The Clean Water Rule
- Defines tributaries as waters with physical indicators of flow including most headwater streams and;
- Waters adjacent or bordering navigable waters including wetlands, ponds, lakes, oxbows, and impoundments.
The Science is Based on the Significant Nexus Standard
Adjacent or ‘neighboring’ waters (e.g., wetlands) have a significant nexus to traditional navigable waters, extending protection to:
- Waters located within 100 feet of the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) of navigable waters
- Waters located in the 100-year floodplain and within 1,500 feet of the OHWM of navigable waters
- Waters located within 1,500 feet of the high tide line of salt water and within 1,500 feet of the OWHM of the Great Lakes
The Clean Water Rule excludes most ‘isolated’ wetlands, certain categories of ditches (e.g., ditches that flow only after precipitation), gullies, rills, and ephemeral streams lacking physical OHWM features.
Isolated Wetlands in Five Regional Areas are Now Protected by the CWA
- Prairie potholes – Mid-West and Northern Great Plains
- Carolina and Delmarva Bays – Atlantic seaboard elliptical depressions
- Pocosins – found along the Atlantic seaboard’s lower coastal plain
- Vernal pools in California
- Texas coastal prairie wetlands
EnviroScience has scientists with years of permitting experience who can help you navigate the complexities of the requirements surrounding wetlands and streams. For more information, contact EnviroScience at 800-940-4025 or via email at email@example.com.
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To see the EPA’s original press release about the Clean Water Act Rule, click here.