Processing Magazine

EPA proposes new rule to clarify Clean Water Act jurisdiction

September 23, 2013

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a new rule that would put an end to confusion over which waters are subject to Clean Water Act protection.

Many small streams and ponds in the United States are currently not regulated under the Clean Water Act, which makes issues over potential pollution and permit procedures hard to deal with due to uncertainties concerning the relevant jurisdiction, the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board said in a report.

In a post published on the EPA's official blog spot, Nancy Stoner, EPA acting assistant administrator for water, and Lek Kadeli, EPA acting assistant administrator for research and development, stated that the rule will replace existing guidelines to ensure consistency and predictability in the process of determining when the Act applies and when it does not.

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The rule, jointly proposed by the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was based on a review of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed studies and analyses on how small and isolated water bodies are connected to larger waterways and affect the water downstream.

If applied, the rule will cut costs and reduce delays in the permit process, while at the same time it will protect waters essential to public health and the environment, the blog post added.

Public comments on the report will be accepted through October. Meanwhile, the rule has been submitted to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.