The public comment period for the new Waters of the U.S. rule is now underway. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers pushed the official rule in the Federal Register. It's the second step in the process.
Under the proposal, traditional navigable waterways will remain federally regulated, but tributaries, ditches, lakes, ponds, and wetlands will only be federally regulated if they pour into a traditional navigable waterway in a typical year. Ephemeral streams, those that run in a big rain event, are excluded.
The new WOTUS rule specifically excludes groundwater, prior converted cropland, water control features and fields like cranberry bogs flooded for harvest.
National Cattlemen's Beef Association representatives say being so close to finalizing WOTUS is a relief. "When it comes to WOTUS, we are very close to finalizing this rule. The rule does two things-it protects our water sources, it protects our waterways, but it does so by protecting public property rights. That is a key difference from what we saw in the 2015 Obama rule. It isn't just a problem from 2015. We have been dealing with this for well over a decade," said Colin Woodall who is the Senior Vice-President of Government Affairs with NCBA.
The public comment period ends on February 28th. For more on the Waters of the United States, click here.