This fact sheet provides an overview of how Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) are defined and the impact on electric cooperatives:
- The Clean Water Act (CWA) gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) regulatory jurisdiction over navigable waters, which the CWA defines as “waters of the United States” (WOTUS).
- In 2015, the EPA and the Corps of Engineers issued a new definition of WOTUS significantly expanding the federal reach of the CWA. A 2017 Executive Order directed EPA and the Corps to review the 2015 rule and the legality of the expanded federal reach. Courts have stayed the 2015 rule in 28 states, but it remains in effect in the other 22 states.
- EPA and the Corps are implementing a two-step process to respond to the Executive Order: Step 1 (proposed in 2017) would rescind the 2015 rule; Step 2 (proposed in 2019) would establish a new, replacement WOTUS rule.