The Regulatory Roller Coaster of Waters of the United States

October 8, 2021

On September 3, 2021, in conjunction with a ruling by a federal judge in Arizona that vacated the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced they would halt the implementation of the NWPR nationwide and would revert to interpreting Waters of the United States (WOTUS) consistent with pre-2015 regulations. The judge’s order came two months after the EPA and USACE had announced their intent to repeal the NWPR and again revise the WOTUS definition.

Kevin Thomas NSSGA
Kevin Thomas outside the Capitol

Kevin Thomas, PWS & LSS, a senior project manager and ecological sciences lead at CEC Charlotte, recently spoke on behalf of the National Sand, Stone & Gravel Association (NSSGA) at its Legislative & Policy Forum, where NSSGA members met with members of Congress on Capitol Hill to discuss the vacated NWPR and the ever-changing definition of WOTUS.

During his presentation, Kevin detailed the differences between the pre-2015 and 2020 rules and the impacts to infrastructure project costs associated with the vacated NWPR and now pre-2015 rules. Another key component of his presentation was regarding a recent interaction with the EPA and USACE on behalf of a client. Kevin worked to have the EPA reverse its decision on excluded aquatic features after being given concurrence by the USACE on an Approved Jurisdictional Determination.

Kevin represented NSSGA during discussions with lawmakers about the potential impact these rule changes could have on businesses. Regulated businesses are now reevaluating projects based on pre-2015 regulations but also face uncertainty as the EPA and USACE are in the process of revising the definition of WOTUS, which could further shake up their projects.

This regulatory development continues a decades-long trend of modifications to the definition of WOTUS, which have resulted in significant uncertainty for many regulated businesses. At this time, it is unclear whether the agencies intend to continue with rulemaking to repeal the NWPR. CEC will continue to closely monitor this development and provide pertinent updates as they become available.

In the meantime, we encourage you to read more about how CEC’s experts can help you navigate the regulatory roller coaster surrounding the NWPR and WOTUS by reading this whitepaper.

For more information about impending regulation changes and how they could affect your projects,  please contact CEC’s WOTUS experts:

About the Author


CEC Staff

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc. (CEC) provides comprehensive market-oriented consulting services to advance client strategic business objectives. CEC is recognized for delivering innovative design solutions and integrated expertise in air quality, civil engineering, ecological sciences, environmental engineering and sciences, manufacturing infrastructure services, survey/geospatial, waste management, and water resources.

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