Public Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement Activities
On November 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army (“the agencies”) announced the signing of a proposed rule revising the definition of “waters of the United States.” This proposal marks a key milestone in the regulatory process announced in June, 2021. The agencies propose to put back into place the pre-2015 definition of “waters of the United States,” updated to reflect consideration of Supreme Court decisions. This familiar approach to “waters of the United States” would support a stable implementation of “waters of the United States” while the agencies continue to consult with states, Tribes, local governments, and a broad array of stakeholders in both the implementation of WOTUS and future regulatory actions.
On June 9, 2021, EPA and the Department of the Army announced their intention to revise the definition of WOTUS to better protect our nation's water resources.
On July 30, 2021, the agencies announced stakeholder engagement opportunities, including the agencies’ intent to host ten regionally focused roundtables. On October 13, 2021, EPA and Army announced a process for stakeholders to submit nomination letters for a slate of nominees to potentially be selected for one of these geographically focused roundtables. Each regionally focused roundtable will allow stakeholders with a range of perspectives to engage and discuss their experiences with definitions of WOTUS, including challenges and opportunities within their geographic areas. The roundtables will also provide an opportunity for the participants to discuss geographic similarities and differences, particular water resources that are characteristic of or unique to each region, and site-specific feedback about implementation.
The agencies request that organizers that would like to be considered for a roundtable submit their self-nomination letter via email to WOTUSfirstname.lastname@example.org. In response to robust interest in these regional roundtables, the agencies have extended the deadline for submissions to December 1, 2021.
Public Hearings on the Proposed Rule
The agencies are also hosting virtual public hearings on January 12, 2022 from 10 AM to 1 PM Eastern; January 13, 2022 from 2 PM to 5 PM Eastern; and January 18, 2022 from 5 PM to 8 PM Eastern. To register to speak at a specific session of the virtual hearing, please use the online registration forms available at:
- Wednesday, January 12, 2022 – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/us-epa-and-department-of-the-army-wotus-public-hearing-tickets-211244667487
- Thursday, January 13, 2022 – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/us-epa-and-department-of-the-army-wotus-public-hearing-tickets-211258017417
- Tuesday, January 18, 2022 – https://www.eventbrite.com/e/us-epa-and-department-of-the-army-wotus-public-hearing-tickets-211274536827
The last day to pre-register to speak at each session will be, respectively, January 7, 2022; January 10, 2022; and January 13, 2022. A day before each session the agencies will post an agenda of each hearing including a list of pre-registered speakers in approximate order on this webpage. People may also register to listen to the public sessions at the registration links above.
To allow more time for speakers, the agencies may prerecord a video introduction and overview of the rule; if needed a link will be available on this webpage for viewing before the public hearings. Each commenter will have three (3) minutes to provide oral testimony. EPA and the Army encourage commenters to provide the agencies with a copy of their oral testimony via email to CWAwotus@epa.gov. EPA and the Army also recommend submitting the text of oral comments as written comments to the rulemaking docket. The agencies may ask clarifying questions during the oral presentations but will not respond to the presentations at that time.
While the agencies expect the hearing to go forward as set forth above, please monitor this website or contact CWAwotus@epa.gov to determine if there are any updates.
If you require the services of a translator or special accommodations such as audio description, please pre-register for the hearing with CWAwotus@epa.gov and describe your needs a week in advance of each session – respectively, by January 5, 2022; January 6, 2022; and January 11, 2022. EPA and the Army may not be able to arrange accommodations without advanced notice.
The Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration has expressed its intent to host EPA and the Army staff in January to discuss the proposed rule with small entities at its Small Business Environmental Roundtables. For more information about these Environmental Roundtables, please contact Assistant Chief Counsel Astrika Adams for Environmental Law and Policy at email@example.com or 202-798-7750.
Pre-Proposal Public Meetings
On July 30, 2021, the Agencies announced a schedule for initial public meetings to hear from interested stakeholders on their perspectives on defining "waters of the United States" and how to implement that definition as the agencies pursue this process. The public meetings were held as web conferences in August and September 2021.
The agencies also accepted written pre-proposal recommendations from members of the public. Written recommendations sent to the docket will be posted on Regulations.gov to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0328. This docket closed on September 3, 2021.
Federalism and Tribal Consultation
For more information regarding federalism and tribal consultation, please contact CWAwotus@epa.gov. Additional information about tribal consultation may also be found at EPA's Tribal Consultation Opportunities Tracking System website.