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'Waters of the United States'

New WOTUS rule dials back Federal reach

On Tuesday, the EPA released a newly proposed waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule that would erase many of the concerns farmers and ranchers had about the rule, going back to 2015.

Under the proposal, there would be just six categories of jurisdictional waters. That includes traditional navigable waters, tributaries, certain ditches that are navigable or affected by tide, lakes and ponds, impoundments and wetlands that abut or are connected to waters of the United States.

The proposal lists waters that would not be regulated. That includes certain land features where water is present only as a result of heavy rainfalls, groundwater, most ditches, prior-converted croplands, storm water and wastewater features.

David Ross, EPA's assistant administrator for water, said during a press briefing the EPA was looking for "simplicity, clarity and regulatory certainty" in developing the new rule "recognizing the federal government has limited powers." "Our goal was to provide as few categories (of WOTUS) as possible," Ross said. On navigable waters, he said the EPA is not changing what was historically regulated.


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