May 6, 2022 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army (Army) (together, the agencies) will host a virtual Midwest-focused regional roundtable on “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) on May 9, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. central time. The virtual roundtable hosted by the agencies was organized by the National Parks Conservation Association and is one of ten roundtables selected to highlight diverse perspectives and regional experience on WOTUS implementation.
“As EPA and Army continue toward WOTUS implementation that is durable and protects our water resources, it is essential that we hear from diverse perspectives and understand regional variations in how that plays out. We believe all Americans support clean water and look forward to the interesting dialogue that will be cultivated in these roundtables,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox.
“The Army is looking forward to participating in these regional roundtables, particularly to gain a better understanding of ways to ensure implementation of the definition of WOTUS is clear with the appropriate level of consideration for regional differences and identification of tools that may exist. The Army recognizes how important communication is to implementing the Clean Water Act and looks forward to the upcoming dialogue,” said Mr. Jaime Pinkham, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.
In February, EPA and Army announced the selection of ten virtual regional roundtables that highlight geographic differences and a range of perspectives—including agriculture, conservation groups, developers, drinking water and wastewater managers, environmental organizations, communities with environmental justice concerns, industry, Tribal nations, and state and local governments.
Watch the livestream for this Midwest roundtable here.
The regional roundtables are one important mechanism for the agencies to consider the regional issues and variation in implementation of WOTUS, given the diverse water quality and quantity conditions in different parts of the United States. The regional roundtables will provide opportunities to discuss geographic similarities and differences, particular water resources that are characteristic of or unique to each region, and site-specific feedback about the way WOTUS has been implemented by the agencies. The remaining nine roundtables will be held later this month and next month.
More information, including links to view the roundtables can be found here.
More information on “waters of the United States,” can be found here.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants from a point source to navigable waters unless otherwise authorized under the Act. Navigable waters are defined in the Act as “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” Thus, “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is a threshold term establishing the geographic scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The term “waters of the United States” is not defined by the Act but has been defined by EPA and the Army in regulations since the 1970s and jointly implemented in the agencies’ respective programmatic activities.