WOTUS Backgrounder

  • 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.

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.