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Navigable Waters Protection Rule

Final Rule: The Navigable Waters Protection Rule

On January 23, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule to define “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). For the first time, the agencies are streamlining the definition so that it includes four simple categories of jurisdictional waters, provides clear exclusions for many water features that traditionally have not been regulated, and defines terms in the regulatory text that have never been defined before. Congress, in the Clean Water Act, explicitly directed the Agencies to protect “navigable waters.” The Navigable Waters Protection Rule regulates these waters and the core tributary systems that provide perennial or intermittent flow into them. The final rule fulfills Executive Order 13788 and reflects legal precedent set by key Supreme Court cases as well as robust public outreach and engagement, including pre-proposal input and comments received on the proposed rule. The final rule will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. Once effective, it replaces the rule published on October 22, 2019. 


The EPA Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, along with Mr. R.D. James, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, signed the following final rule on January 23, 2020. EPA is submitting it for publication in the Federal Register (FR). While we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of this Internet version of the rule, it is not the official version of the rule for purposes of public comment. Please refer to the official version in a forthcoming FR publication, which will appear on the Government Printing Office's FDsys website and on Regulations.gov in Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149. Once the official version of this document is published in the FR, this version will be removed from the Internet and replaced with the official version.

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