What Does the Recent WOTUS Rule Change Mean for Your Projects?

Filed in Codes and Standards, Environment by on September 23, 2021 5 Comments

NAHB FAQs on WOTUSAs NAHBNow previously reported, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the agencies) recently halted implementation of the “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) regulatory definition as finalized under the Trump administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), reverting back to a pre-2015 WOTUS regulatory definition.

The Sept. 3 announcement was an abrupt reversal because the agencies had previously committed to a series of public hearings, followed by a two-step federal rulemaking process, during which time the WOTUS regulatory definition as finalized under the NWPR was to remain in effect nationwide.

To help builders and developers understand how to move forward with ongoing or planned projects, NAHB developed FAQs to provide interim (unofficial) guidance based upon the Clean Water Act (CWA) statute, existing regulatory guidance documents, and past practices by the agencies during previous instances of changing interpretations of the WOTUS regulatory definition.

NAHB will continue to press the agencies for additional guidance concerning the status of the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona to vacate the NWPR, timing of expected field hearings by the agencies on a new WOTUS definition, and a timeframe for when the Biden administration will propose a new WOTUS regulatory definition under the CWA.

You can access the WOTUS FAQs on nahb.org.

For more information, contact Mike Mittelholzer.

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Comments (5)

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  1. Jeffrey Baird says:

    Elections have CONSEQUENCES!!

  2. Martin W Romero says:

    Friends of the Building Industry,
    There is no matter of greater importance in our country, on our planet, and in our lives than water. If we do not act now by supporting every measure to protect the quality of our waters, then what can our children and future generations expect for their water future? What good is an economy if you cannot participate in it due to constant struggles with water? I am in support of the strictest guidelines related to water, and I hope you will consider being so as well!

    • Bobby Bowling says:

      The EPA’s own data from several years ago correctly shows that the construction industry’s contribution to “polluting” the nation’s “waterways” (which under this reverted-to, old definition now again ridiculously includes drainage ditches) is 8% of the problem. This is a “red-herring” issue for anti-growth, anti-capitalists and always will be. Just “follow the science” and you’ll understand that spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a development to mitigate dirt drifting off a jobsite into a drainage ditch once or twice a year in the desert community in which I build is a needless, waste of money added to the already skyrocketing price of housing in my community.

    • Dawn Wiksten says:

      YES!! What you say is on the money! Someone tell me what location is more desirable. One on the waterfronts, or one on the cul de’sac? If not for our valuable building locations, and buyers willing to spend a fortune to be on the waterfronts then at least for our children’s future. PROTECT that dang waters!

      I am a truss plate Manufacturing Company, in Kingston ID on the Coeur Dalene River. We even started a Nonprofit entity called, Friends of The River 2020 to protect these valuable resources for future generations and future livelihoods. Not all environmental causes are a four letter word.

  3. J. Randall Griffin says:

    I have a small 50 unit project in the Southeast US that was on the Corps of Engineers desk for approval 2 weeks before the judge ruled. Because ephemeral streams will now be added, the current estimated cost for mitigation is close to $300,000, or $6,000 a unit. Up from $0 which was the cost below the ruling. I am all for protecting streams and waterways, but on my property these so-called ephemeral streams are actually just ditches that start on my property, The only time you would see water in them is in a torrential rain. Our plans are complete, have been approved by local authorities, and now politicians add a major expense to the project. Add this cost to the already skyrocketing costs and the result is the project has now been tabled. This is not right and not fair. The project already has substantial costs to protect properties and streams below our property. If anything, my project should have been grandfathered in.

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