Aerial photo of the Mississippi River from Minnesota.
The Mississippi River Aerial views of the Mississippi River, related lakes, forests and wetlands to the northeast of the Crow Wing County Airport and Brainerd, Minnesota. © Mark Godfrey/The Nature Conservancy

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EPA, Army Corps to Redefine Protections for U.S. Waterways

Would initiate new rulemaking under Clean Water Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced today that they will begin a process to define Clean Water Act jurisdiction for safeguarding America’s streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands.

This would rewrite the so-called “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule, which defines the scope and kinds of waterways that are protected under the Clean Water Act against harmful uses like runoff of chemicals or discharge of pollution.

The announcement sets off a new rulemaking process, which would overwrite the previous administration's rule.

The following is a statement by Lynn Scarlett, chief external affairs officer for The Nature Conservancy:

“We cannot protect the health and well-being of people and nature if we do not protect our waterways. Our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands supply our drinking water, drive local economies and are irreplaceable habitats for fish and wildlife.

“The Clean Water Act is a powerful and foundational tool to protect these waters for all Americans, especially those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by pollution. The best way to effectively and sustainably implement the Clean Water Act is to ground the rule in science and listen to the needs of these waterways’ many users.

“We welcome today’s announcement and look forward to working with the administration and partners through a collaborative, inclusive process to develop a new rule that can stand the test of time, is based in science and advances the health of America's waters for the benefits of people and nature.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.