TWS Comments on Clean Water Act Proposed Rule

By Mark Hofberg

Water bodies such as this groundwater well in North Dakota will be better defined based on the EPA’s proposed rule, which is intended to clarify which wetlands are covered under the Clean Water Act. The Wildlife Society recently submitted comments to the rule, suggesting ways in which the EPA can make more accurate and timely designations.
Image Credit: U.S. Geological Survey

The Wildlife Society (TWS) submitted comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed changes to policies regarding implementation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The proposed rule is intended to clarify long standing confusion over which water bodies are under jurisdiction of the CWA.

The EPA originally proposed the “Definition of `Waters of the United States’ Under the Clean Water Act” rule in April, but extended the comment period twice to allow organizations and individuals more time to read and interpret the proposal before making comments. The comment period closed this past Friday, November 14.

Members of TWS’ Wetlands Working Group played a major role in developing the Society’s comments using their expertise on wetlands and the wildlife dependent on wetlands habitats. The recommendations focused on clarifying some of the definitions within the rule such as “significant nexus” which describes how wetlands are connected and “floodplain,” which describes the process by which the EPA will delineate areas that flood periodically. TWS suggested tweaking some of the definitions to be more clear and better reflect current scientific knowledge so the EPA can make consistent, accurate and timely designations.

Sources: Federal Register (April 21, 2014), Federal Register (October 14, 2014)