The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure recently approved a bill, H.R. 4965, that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers from moving forward with “Waters of the U.S.” guidance broadening the scope of the Clean Water Act.
The guidance, referenced as “EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Guidance Regarding Identification of Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act (EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0409),” is presently under final review by the Office of Management and Budget. The guidance modifies the “Waters of the U.S.” definition in the Clean Water Act, expanding federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction for tributaries (e.g., ditches and culverts).
According to the National Association of Counties, the expanded jurisdiction proposed by the guidance could have a significant impact on county functions such as storm drains, ditches, and flood control programs and possibly lead to additional permitting requirements.
The legislation would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers from finalizing the guidance. A companion bill, S. 2245, has also been introduced in the Senate. The House bill, H.R. 4965, now moves to the full U.S. House for consideration.