ILTA Monthly Newsletter

Trump Administration Issues Revised Definition of Waters of the United States

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The Trump Administration on January 22 formally announced its final rule revising the definition of what is a Water of the United States. The new regulation balances the authorities of states and the federal government by limiting federal oversight to navigable waters and other waters that have a surface connection to those waters. The 2015 Obama Administration rule extended federal authority to man-made ditches, ephemeral waters that were only wet during rainstorms and noncontiguous waters more appropriately regulated by the states.

President Trump made it a goal of his tenure to roll back the Obama-era WOTUS rule that had stymied American fossil fuel producers, farmers and real estate developers for years. He took the first step in September 2019 by repealing the rule; this new action marks final implemented of the new regulation.

ILTA is a member of the Waters Advocacy Coalition, which has supported the repeal and replacement of the 2015 WOTUS. The 2015 amendments allowed the federal government regulatory oversight of waters never envisioned by Congress when it crafted the Clean Water Act. The Waters Advocacy Coalition maintains that the new rule will continue to protect rivers, streams, lakes and ponds under federal and state authorities while allowing greater certainty for the construction and maintenance of important infrastructure.

Several state attorneys general will likely challenge the regulation in court, meaning the issue is not quite resolved. 


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