20 March 2023 - Final Revised Definition of "Waters of the United States" Becomes Effective

HQ USACE Regulatory
Published March 20, 2023

On 20 March 2023, the final "Revised Definition of 'Waters of the United States'" rule (the “2023 Rule”) became effective. The 2023 Rule is operative in all U.S. jurisdictions except the states of Idaho and Texas.

The U.S. Department of the Army and U.S. EPA (“the agencies”) final rule establishes a clear and reasonable definition of “waters of the United States” and reduces the uncertainty from constantly changing regulatory definitions that has harmed communities and our nation’s waters.

The agencies developed the 2023 Rule with consideration of the relevant provisions of the Clean Water Act and the statute as a whole, relevant Supreme Court case law, and the agencies’ technical expertise after more than 45 years of implementing the longstanding pre-2015 “waters of the United States” framework. The 2023 Rule also considers the best available science and extensive public comment to establish a definition of “waters of the United States” that supports public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth.

Until further notice, federal Clean Water Act jurisdiction in Idaho and Texas will continue to be determined under the pre-2015 regulatory regime. The pre-2015 regulatory regime refers to the Corps’ 1986 definition of “waters of the United States,” implemented consistent with relevant case law and longstanding practice, as informed by applicable guidance, training, and experience. This includes the 2003 SWANCC and 2008 Rapanos guidance documents.

If a state, tribe, or an entity has specific questions about a pending jurisdictional determination or permit, please contact a local U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District office (see https://regulatory.ops.usace.army.mil/offices/) or EPA at cwaWOTUS@epa.gov.

More information about the final rule is available at: https://www.epa.gov/wotus/revising-definition-waters-united-states.