According to the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, the Clean Water Act (CWA) should no longer be limited to “navigable waters”. Rather, the Act extends to non-navigable tributaries of navigable waters if such tributaries contain water seasonally per the EPA’s and Army Corps’ new draft guidance. In addition, the CWA will now cover wetlands located next to interstate waters or navigable waters along with wetlands directly next-to permanent waters. Interstate waters are also covered.
Artificial lakes and ponds, agicultural and roadside ditches, and specific artificially irrigated areas will not be covered by the CWA.
The expansion of the CWA may leave many farmers and ranchers wondering whether their operations are in compliance with CWA. Although the EPA has put out the National Clean Water Framework for some guidance, the framework can be difficult to comprehend.
The Framework is currently open for public comment. Thereafter, a draft guide of the CWA will be published for an additional 60 day comment period.