Clean Water Act

Waters of the United States

Lake Pend Oreille | Pend Oreille River

Clean Water Act – 2015 Waters of the US Rule (WOTUS)

“Protection for about 60 percent of the nation’s streams and millions of acres of wetlands has been confusing and complex as the result of Supreme Court decisions in 2001 and 2006.

The Clean Water Rule protects streams and wetlands that are scientifically shown to have the greatest impact on downstream water quality and form the foundation of our nation’s water resources.

​EPA and the U.S. Army are ensuring that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictable, easier for businesses and industry to understand, and consistent with the law and the latest science” – EPA

WOTUS in Danger

Reproduced from

Step One Proposed Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States” – Recodification of Pre-existing Rules

The EPA and the Department of the Army (agencies) are proposing a rule to repeal the 2015 Rule and re-codify the regulatory text that existed prior to 2015 defining “waters of the United States” or WOTUS.

On June 27, 2017, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, along with Mr. Douglas Lamont, senior official performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, signed the proposed rule. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on July 27, 2017.

​This action would, if finalized, provide regulatory certainty while the agencies engage in a second rulemaking to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.”

The proposed rule would be implemented in accordance with Supreme Court decisions, agency guidance, and longstanding practice. Proposing to re-codify the regulations that existed before the 2015 Rule will provide continuity for regulated entities, the states, tribes, and the public.

Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Proposed Step One Repeal

On June 29, 2018, the agencies signed a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to the proposed Step One Repeal. This notice clarifies that the agencies are proposing to permanently repeal the 2015 Rule in its entirety.

As part of the initial proposal, the EPA and the Army indicated their intent to recodify the pre-2015 regulations—a longstanding regulatory framework—until the agencies finalize a new definition of WOTUS.

The agencies are issuing the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to give the public an opportunity to comment on additional considerations that support the agencies’ proposed repeal, some of which the agencies did not discuss in detail in the initial Step One proposal. The agencies are continuing to review the comments received on the July 2017 proposal.

LPOW Action

LPOW signed on to the comment letter that the Waterkeeper Alliance filed on behalf of 92 Waterkeepers opposing the proposed rulemaking to repeal the Clean Water Rule and replace it with a “regulatory framework” that would reduce Clean Water Act protections for our nation’s waters, including Lake Pend Oreille and its associated waterways.

Did you know?

“Healthy watersheds substantially affect the quality of life for people and the environment overall – often by performing ‘free work’ that communities do not have to do, or pay for, themselves.

The beneficial roles of watersheds in healthy condition can be surprisingly far-reaching and include ecosystem services, economic benefits and physical and mental health benefits.” EPA

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