Take Notice: It May Be WOTUS

The new definition of “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act becomes effective Aug. 28, and it will make a big difference for property owners who suddenly find out that they need to consult with the federal government before they can develop their land.

In addition to the rivers, lakes and other bodies of water known as “traditional navigable waters,” which the act is designed to protect, the new definition also applies to all tributaries of those waters and the “adjacent” waters and wetlands that surround them. Activities that result in the discharge of dredge or fill material into WOTUS require a federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers.

The good news: NAHB has a webinar replay, fact sheet and all kinds of background information available that will help you decide whether your property meets the WOTUS definition and is subject to federal permitting.

The not-so-good news: Many builders will likely need to hire a qualified environmental consultant to navigate the process.

The revised wording means that more of the landscape, including most man-made ditches, isolated ponds and streams that only flow after it rains, will meet the WOTUS definition, and thus require builders and developers to get a permit before moving dirt or fill into those features.

The bottom line: The new rules are confusing and will be quite a bit more restrictive than they used to be. It’s one reason why more than 30 states have filed lawsuits, and why NAHB has been working tirelessly with lawmakers to block regulators from moving forward.

For additional information, contact Owen McDonough at 800-368-5242 x8662.

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