FACT SHEET

Background Information

  • We want to continue protecting our nation’s waterways and drinking water.
  • We have advocated for a new water rule that protects our nation’s waters and provides
    clear rules for people and communities to follow.
  • Farmers, ranchers, and small business owners want to continue protecting land and
    water in the communities where they live and work. Clean water is essential to our way
    of life and preserving our land means healthy places to live, work, and play.
  • The Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act are two separate laws that focus
    on different goals. The Clean Water Act was designed to regulate the quality of the
    nation’s surface waters, and the Safe Drinking Water Act was designed to assure the
    safety of our public drinking water supplies. Changes to the Clean Water Act regulations
    do not lessen Safe Drinking Water Act protections.

Quick Facts

  • According to a Morning Consult poll, an overwhelming majority (71%) say EPA should work with Congress
    and local business owners to draft a new rule that protects the environment and the economy
  • Over half say water quality should be regulated by state or local government
  • Majority of voters say businesses that directly utilize land should be trusted to make the
    right environmental decisions
  • Overwhelming agreement it is possible to protect the environment while also protecting
    American jobs and businesses
  • Strong majorities predict WOTUS would cause business operation costs, as well as consumer
    food and electricity prices to increase.

Separating Myth From Fact: Drinking Water & WOTUS

MYTH: The EPA is attempting to roll back the Clean Water Act, eliminating key protections for water quality and putting our drinking water at risk.

FACT: The EPA is revising a definition within the Clean Water Act, called the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule, which was expanded by the Obama Administration in 2015 but never fully went into effect because it was immediately blocked by the courts. Because the rule never went into effect, water quality will not be harmed.

  • In August 2015, a federal district court in North Dakota blocked implementation of the WOTUS rule, and in October of 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a nationwide stay of the rule. WOTUS was never fully implemented, so water quality will not be harmed.

MYTH: Revising Waters of the United States means rolling back the Clean Water Act

FACT: The Clean Water Act is a law, which would require Congressional action to change. Waters of the United States is a regulation rewritten by the EPA in 2015 but never implemented because it was blocked by the courts.

  • The Clean Water Act was passed by Congress and signed into law 1972. WOTUS is a rule originally written in 1986 and revised in 1988 to clarify which waters are federally regulated under the CWA, and which waters are regulated by the states. WOTUS originally focused on waters that spanned multiple states, but for years the rule created confusion over what waters the EPA could regulate. In 2015, the Obama Administration greatly expanded the definition of WOTUS, a move which was quickly halted by the courts.

MYTH: If WOTUS is revised, it will gut the Clean Water Act and the drinking water of 117 million Americans will be harmed.

FACT: The quality of the Nation’s drinking water is stringently protected by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

  • The Safe Drinking Water Act seeks to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply, including multiple barriers against pollution, including treatment, distribution system integrity, public information, and source protection.
  • EPA sets stringent national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants. No WOTUS rule would weaken these protective requirements.
  • Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the States conduct source assessments to gather information needed to protect sources of drinking water, i.e., rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells, and the States, local governments, and water utilities, work together to protect source waters. WOTUS does not limit the ability of state and local entities from protecting source waters.

Why a New Water Rule Is Needed

  • For over 20 years, uncertainty surrounding the scope of federal authority over “waters of
    the United States,” or WOTUS, has resulted in litigation and regulatory uncertainty.
    Supreme Court cases addressing these issues added additional confusion to the Clean
    Water Act’s implementation.
  • The Obama administration took an unlawfully broad view of federal jurisdiction over
    waters, causing 31 states and many agricultural, small business, and industry groups to
    challenge the administration’s old WOTUS rule.
  • Almost immediately courts halted implementation of the 2015 WOTUS rule. Because of
    these court rulings, the old WOTUS rule has never been implemented nationwide. Since
    then, every court that has reviewed the rule has deemed it likely illegal.
  • The EPA has said publicly that they expect to release a new water rule for public
    comment in the coming weeks.
  • We hope a new commonsense rule will clearly define what waters are subject to federal
    jurisdiction and what waters are subject to state protection. Farmers, ranchers, and
    small businesses need a new rule that protects waterways and can be implemented and
    followed without confusion.
  • A new water rule should empower people and communities to continue to protect their
    own water resources and provide Americans the clarity to operate their businesses
    without having to hire an army of lawyers and consultants. We can do both.