EPA Clean Water Rule

The goal of the EPA’s Clean Water Rule is to protect waters historically covered by the Clean Water Act. It clearly defines water sources that affect the health of downstream waters, protects waters next to lakes and rivers, and focuses on streams, not ditches, unless they are constructed out of or function like streams. The rule does not protect any water sources not historically protected by the Clean Water Act. The supplementary material to the rule states:

This final rule does not establish any regulatory requirements. Instead, it is a definitional rule that clarifies the scope of “waters of the United States” consistent with the Clean Water Act (CWA), Supreme Court precedent, and science. Programs established by the CWA, such as the section 402 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program, the section 404 permit program for discharge of dredged or fill material, and the section 311 oil spill prevention and response programs, all rely on the definition of “waters of the United States.” Entities currently are, and will continue to be, regulated under these programs that protect “waters of the United States” from pollution and destruction.

The EPA has a website that includes a number of fact sheets. The Clean Water Rule will be effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register. The official public docket for the rule is EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880.

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