Navigable Waters Protection Rule Replaces WOTUS


The Navigable Waters Protection Rule has officially superseded the Waters of the United Stares (WOTUS) Rule introduced in 2015 by the previous Administration.


According to Andrew Wheeler, Administrator of the EPA, “After decades of landowners relying on expensive attorneys to determine what water on their land may or may not fall under Federal regulations, the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule strikes the proper balance between Washington and the states in managing land and water resources, while protecting our nation’s navigable waters, and it does so within the authority Congress provided.”


The Navigable Waters Protection (NWP) Rule defines four categories of waters regulated under the Clean Water Act.  These comprise:


  • The territorial seas and traditional navigable waters


  • Perennial and intermittent tributaries


  • Lakes, ponds, and impoundments


  • Wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters


The rule contains twelve exemptions from jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act and specifically in relation to farmland “features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall, farm and roadside ditches, stock watering ponds and waste treatment systems.”


Publication of the new rule was welcomed by farm groups with Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) who opined, “the original WOTUS rule was nothing but a severe regulatory overreach.”


The rule will face legal challenge by environmental advocacy organizations including the Natural Resource Defense Council that claims, “the NWP rule neglects established science and poses substantial new risks to people’s health and the environment.”