Draft EPA Rule on the Waters of the United States

Draft EPA Rule on the Waters of the United States – reduced size PDF (23 megs)

Draft EPA Rule on the Waters of the United States – original PDF (129 megs)

Supporting document on the connectivity of the waters of the United States

Executive Summary

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) publish for public comment a proposed rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA), in light of the U.S. Supreme Court cases in U.S. v. Riverside Bayview Homes, Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (SWANCC), and Rapanos v. United States. The purposes of the proposed rule are to ensure protection of our nation’s aquatic resources and make the process of identifying “waters of the United States” less complicated and more efficient. The rule achieves these goals by increasing CWA program transparency, predictability, and consistency. This rule will result in more effective and efficient CW A permit evaluations with increased certainty and less litigation. This rule provides increased clarity regarding the CW A regulatory definition of “waters of the United States” and associated definitions and concepts. EPA’s Office of Research and Development developed a report that synthesizes this scientific literature (from herein, “Report”). The Report is under review by EPA’s Science Advisory Board, and the agencies expect the rule will not be finalized until that review and the final Report are complete. This proposal is supported by a body of peer-reviewed scientific literature on the connectivity of tributaries, wetlands and open waters to downstream waters and the important effects of these connections on the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of those downstream waters. Appendix A summarizes and applies currently available scientific literature that is part of the administrative record for this proposal. Additional data and information likely will become available during the rulemaking process, including that provided during the public comment process, and by additional research, studies, and investigations that take place before the rulemaking process is concluded. At the conclusion of the rulemaking process, the agencies will review the entirety of the completed administrative record and determine at that time whether it supports the conclusions of this proposed rule. The agencies will make any adjustments to the final rule deemed to be appropriate at that time.

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