On June 9, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced their intent to revise the definition of “waters of the United States.” This process includes two rulemakings: A foundational rule to restore longstanding protections, and a second rulemaking process that builds on that regulatory foundation. The forthcoming foundational rule will propose to restore the regulations defining “waters of the United States” that were in place for decades until 2015, with updates to be consistent with relevant Supreme Court decisions. The agencies will also pursue a separate, second rulemaking process that further refines and builds upon that regulatory foundation. The agencies intend to engage with state and tribal co-regulators and the public to inform these two rulemakings. The agencies are committed to learning from the past regulatory approaches—the pre-2015 regulations and guidance, the 2015 Clean Water Rule, and the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule—while engaging with stakeholders and crafting a refined definition of “waters of the United States.”
This document includes a schedule for initial public meetings to hear from interested stakeholders on their perspectives on defining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act and how to implement that definition as the agencies pursue this process. The agencies are also accepting written recommendations from members of the public and are planning further opportunities for engagement. These opportunities will include 10 geographically focused roundtables that will provide for broad, transparent, regionally focused discussions among a full spectrum of stakeholders.