Right now, because of litigation, the 2015 definition is in effect in 22 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, while the previous regulations, issued in the 1980s, are in effect in the remaining 28 states. This unpredictable, regulatory patchwork will not continue under the Trump Administration.
Going forward, the new definition for “waters of the United States” would establish national consistency and would rebalance the relationship between the federal government and states. States already have regulations for waters within their borders, regardless of whether they are federally regulated as “waters of the United States.” That means that the combination of the agencies’ proposal and state regulations would continue to provide coverage for the nation’s water resources as intended by Congress when it passed the Clean Water Act over 45 years ago.
Since the beginning of this administration, EPA and the Army have been committed to an open and transparent process for reviewing the definition of “waters of the United States” and the scope of federal authority under the Clean Water Act. The agencies sought feedback from a broad audience of stakeholders and have developed a proposed rule that reflects the diverse input that was submitted. The agencies’ proposal is now open for public review for 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.