EPA submits new WOTUS definition for review

On June 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers submitted a new proposed “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) regulatory definition to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. This is a major step toward rewriting the Obama-era water pollution rule. The WOTUS rule defines which bodies of water are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Act mainly covers large, navigable waterways like rivers and bays. But the EPA must also protect some upstream waterways that feed into them. The Obama rule centered on the concept that waterways with a “significant nexus” to navigable ones would be regulated. Written in 2015, the original rule was intended to clarify that small waterways like ponds and headwaters can be protected. Agriculture, developers and other industries, however, complained it was too far-reaching. The rewrite is expected to be more industry-friendly.

At Stream + Wetlands Foundation, the concern we have with the delay of an update to the WOTUS definition is that the uncertainties associated with the existing regulations will continue to cause unnecessary confusion for permit applicants. We are hopeful a reasonable WOTUS definition can be achieved soon to help improve predictability for permit applicants and the regulatory agencies.

Rural Action, Inc. project mentioned in article

Monday Creek Watershed is located in the Appalachian Region of southeastern Ohio. Since 1994, Rural Action, Inc. – a membership-based nonprofit who is developing the region’s many assets in environmentally, socially and economically sustainable ways – has worked together with Monday Creek residents, federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations and educational institutions to identify water quality problems, conduct field research and site characterization, as well as prioritize and plan on-going restoration activities.

In her recent article in Places Journal, author Elizabeth Dodd discusses the watershed monitoring efforts by Rural Action at the Monday Creek Restoration project.

To find out more about the project at Monday Creek, visit Rural Action’s website at http://ruralaction.org/.


Wetlaculture Mesocosm project highlighted in SWS newsletter

Wetland & Science Practice, a newsletter published by the Society of Wetland Scientists, has recently included an article by Dr. William J. Mitsch, Ph.D. about a new experimental wetland mesocosm compound in Naples, Florida. This is a third-of-its-kind research project, the other two are located in Ohio near Defiance and Buckeye Lake.

Stream + Wetlands Foundation is proud to have entered into a partnership with Dr. Mitsch in this multi-year project to study the design of wetlands to decrease downstream eutrophication, including harmful algal blooms and hypoxia, while replacing the requirements of additional fertilization for agricultural production with a recycling mechanism that will return those nutrients to the soil.

To read more about this project, click here.