EPA Repeals Clean Water Rule – How Does this Affect Wetlands and Affect You?

How Does the Clean Water Rule Affect You?

On October 22, 2019, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) finalized a rule which repeals the 2015 Clean Water Rule.  The repeal takes effect on December 23, 2019. This repeal means regulations defining Clean Water Act jurisdiction will be reinstated as they existed before the amendments made in 2015.

Clean Water Act (CWA) and Clean Water Rule Background

In 1972, the Clean Water Act (CWA) was designed to restore and maintain the integrity of the country’s waters and attain water quality for the protection of fish, shellfish and wildlife. This was intended to improve water quality and to control indiscriminate destruction of wetlands, streams and habitats.

How Wetlands are Defined and Identified Under CWA Section 404

Section 404 of the CWA requires property owners, farmers and developers to obtain permits from the Corps before dredged or fill material is placed in the ‘Waters of the United States’ (WOTUS), including wetlands. For a clearer definition and permitting requirements, the EPA and the Corps authored the Clean Water Rule (CWR) in 2015 to better outline the permitting jurisdiction and regulations. However, this new rule never went into effect in many jurisdictions due to pending litigation.

How Does the New Rule Change Affect Alabama and the Surrounding States?

The Mobile District of the Corps (includes Alabama, the Florida panhandle, western Georgia and eastern Mississippi) will not change its regulations because the 2015 CWR was stayed in the Mobile District due to ongoing litigation and never went into effect.

What Happens Next?

This is just Step 1 of the repeal.  The proposed Step 2 will redefine WOTUS that will provide greater regulatory certainty for land owners, developers and farmers. No dates have been confirmed for Step 2.

BHATE Team is Here to Help You Navigate the Complex Rules

With extensive experience with wetland-stream regulations and mitigation with a practical approach to cost-effectively managing these issues on major land developments, our engineers and scientists can guide you through the regulatory agencies to a successful conclusion. The BHATE team knows the regulations, is recognized for its technical competence, has a trusted relationship with the Corps and knows how to provide solutions that save time and money.

We provide comprehensive environmental engineering and consulting services including environmental site assessments, wetland permitting, ecological risk assessments, habitat studies and other environmental services to guide you when purchasing or developing property.

For further information please contact Josh Bhate at BHATE Geosciences at (205) 591-7062 ext. 205.


About BHATE Geosciences:

BHATE Geosciences Corporation (BHATE) was founded on the belief and commitment that we will serve our clients better than anyone in the industry. From our beginning in 1975 in Birmingham, BHATE has grown to prominence and is recognized in the professional and construction community for state-of-the-art value engineering applications. We are dedicated to providing geotechnical, construction materials testing and environmental engineering applications with quality, service, excellence and safety. BHATE operates from our headquarters in Birmingham with offices throughout Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi.


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