On Dec. 30, 2022, the agencies announced the final "Revised Definition of 'Waters of the United States'" rule. On Jan. 18, 2023, the rule was published in the Federal Register. The rule became effective March 20, 2023, in all states, except Idaho and Texas. On March 19, 2013, a district judge in the Southern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction stopping the 2023 WOTUS rule from going into effect in Idaho and Texas. You can visit EPA's Waters of the United States webpage for more information.
We will adapt our website content, along with our agency policies and practices, to align with this new rule.
Federal environmental policy (2017-2023)
Between 2017 and 2021, several major environmental regulations were rolled back, reducing the protections provided by previous federal environmental laws.
On Aug. 30, 2021, the EPA and Corps received an order from the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona in the case of Pascua Yaqui Tribe v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which vacated and remanded the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. In light of this order, federal agencies halted implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and were interpreting waters of the United States consistent with the pre-2015 regulatory regime until the 2023 WOTUS rule became effective.
We are working with the EPA and the Corps to restore protections, strengthen our nation's environmental policies, prepare for the future by addressing climate change, and support unbiased research and scientific analysis.
You can find out more about current implementation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations and guidance on EPA's Current Implementation of Waters of the United States webpage.
The Corps and EPA determine jurisdiction for waters of the United States (WOTUS)
Under the CWA, a permit is required to dispose of dredged or fill material in WOTUS, including wetlands. The Corps, jointly with the EPA, determines the jurisdiction for WOTUS, including wetlands, for all discharges of dredged or fill material associated with activities occurring in WOTUS. Applicants may request a jurisdictional determination from the Corps to verify the presence or absence of WOTUS on their project site. Applicants or their consultants can provide information to the agencies, but the final determination must be made by the Corps.
Washington laws governing wetlands not changed by federal courts
The state Water Pollution Control Act and associated regulations make no distinction between WOTUS and non-WOTUS wetlands. All "waters of the state" are covered by state law.
We continue to regulate non-WOTUS wetlands and apply the water quality standards prescribed by state law. Our process for regulating projects involving non-federally regulated (non-WOTUS) wetlands is similar to the process used for federally-regulated wetlands. See state wetland regulation and applicant resources.