WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of the Army (Army) (together, the agencies) will host a virtual Southeast-focused regional roundtable on “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) on June 23, 2022, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
The virtual roundtable was organized by the North Carolina Farm Bureau and is one of ten roundtables intended to highlight diverse perspectives and regional experiences on WOTUS implementation. Through these engagements, the agencies will hear from participants representing agriculture, conservation groups, developers, drinking water and wastewater managers, environmental organizations, communities with environmental justice concerns, industry, Tribal nations, and state and local governments.
The regional roundtables are an important mechanism for the EPA and the Army to consider the regional issues and variation in implementation of WOTUS, given the diverse water quality and quantity conditions in different parts of the United States. The regional roundtables will provide opportunities for roundtable participants to discuss topics of their choosing, including geographic similarities and differences, particular water resources that are characteristic of or unique to each region, and site-specific feedback about the way WOTUS has been implemented by the agencies.
The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants from a point source to navigable waters unless otherwise authorized under the Act. Navigable waters are defined in the Act as “the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas.” Thus, “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) is a threshold term establishing the geographic scope of federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The term “waters of the United States” is not defined by the Act but has been defined by EPA and the Army in regulations since the 1970s and jointly implemented in the agencies’ respective programmatic activities.