Construction contractors said a proposed revised definition of “Waters of the United States,” released by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers on Dec. 11, would provide their firms with clarity about what types of permits they will need for their construction projects near various bodies of water.
“The newly proposed clean water rule outlines clear and specific guidelines as to which sites require a federal water permit in addition to state and local water permits, and what needs to be done to protect federally permitted waters,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors in a statement about the proposal.
The rule will be open for comment for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. It would replace the controversial Obama-era WOTUS rule that more widely defined what constituted waters of the U.S., including some temporary bodies of water. That rule is currently in place 22 states, but is stayed in 28 others under district court injunctions.
EPA said that it hopes to finalize the rule in 2019, but it expects thousands of comments on the proposal.
The proposed rule defines a water of the U.S.—and therefore subject to federal jurisdiction—as a navigable waterway or a body of water that flows into a navigable waterway, such as some ditches, ponds and wetlands. T
The rule, however, specifically excludes from federal regulations wetlands not directly connected to such a waterway, groundwater and streams or ponds created only in response to rainfall.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), warned that the rule, if adopted, could lead to more uncertainty for farmers and others because the it will be subject to intense litigation.