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Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rulemaking

Step Two - Revise

On this page:

Public Comment Period - Step Two

Open Public Comment Period

On December 11, 2018 the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (the agencies) proposed a revised definition of "waters of the United States" that clarifies federal authority under the Clean Water Act. The agencies will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

Once the public comment period opens, the public is encouraged to submit written comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149,  to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. General guidance on making effective comments is available at EPA's Commenting on EPA Dockets.

Closed Public Comment Period

The agencies established an administrative docket, Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0480, to solicit pre-proposal recommendations for the Step 2 rulemaking to define "waters of the United States." The docket closed on November 28, 2017. Written recommendations can be found here in the docket.


Step Two - Proposed Revised Definition of "Waters of the United States"

On December 11, 2018, the EPA and Department of the Army signed a proposed rule revising the definition of "waters of the United States" to clarify federal authority under the Clean Water Act in a clear and understandable way. The agencies’ proposal is the second step in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of “waters of the United States” consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order entitled “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” The proposed definition would replace the approach in the 2015 Rule and the pre-2015 regulations.

The agencies invited written pre-proposal recommendations and received more than 6,000 recommendations that the agencies have considered in developing this proposal. This proposal balances the input the agencies received from a wide range of stakeholders. The agencies will take comment on the proposal for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register

Pre-Proposal Outreach and Consultation

Public Meetings - The agencies held public meetings in Fall 2017 to hear from stakeholders their recommendations to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act (CWA). More information about these meetings, including a complete schedule and the Federal Register notice, can be found at EPA's Outreach Meetings webpage.

Written Recommendations - The agencies established an administrative docket to solicit pre-proposal recommendations for the Step 2 rulemaking to define "waters of the United States." The docket closed on November 28, 2017. Written recommendations can be found here in the docket.

Federalism and Tribal Consultation - In Spring 2017, EPA, in coordination with the Department of the Army, initiated formal consultations to solicit comments from state, local, and tribal governments regarding such a new definition. The agencies held a series of meetings with various groups as part of the consultation processes and have posted for public review each of the letters received as part of the consultation processes. ​

  • Federalism Consultation - Consistent with E.O. 13132, Federalism, the EPA, Department of Army, and the Army Corps of Engineers consulted with state and local government officials, or their representative national organization, while developing a revised definition of "waters of the United States."
  • Tribal Consultation - Consistent with the EPA Policy on Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribes, the EPA is consulting with Federally recognized Indian tribes while developing a revised definition of "waters of the United States." Department of Army and the Army Corps of Engineers have been invited to participate in the consultation and coordination.