On Oct. 22, the EPA and the Army Corp of Engineers published the final rule in the Federal Register repealing the 2015 Clean Water Rule (commonly known as WOTUS). Repeal of WOTUS will be effective on Dec. 23, meaning it will no longer apply to any projects that fall under the federal jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. GCSAA applauds this rule and looks forward to next steps by the administration to write a replacement that provides greater certainty and clarity for golf course management and recognizes the role that superintendents play as stewards of the environment.
The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have announced the long-awaited repeal of the 2015 Clean Water Rule (commonly known as WOTUS). The repeal of WOTUS was announced in a press conference at the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 12. Robert Helland, GCSAA director of congressional and federal affairs, attended on behalf of GCSAA and the golf industry.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James signed the repeal rule, which repeals WOTUS nationwide. Up to this point, superintendents across the country have had to deal with a patchwork of rules that has left WOTUS “on the books” in 22 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. With this repeal, that would no longer be the case.
GCSAA has consistently opposed the 2015 WOTUS rule. Its sweeping scope over rivers, streams, wetlands and ditches would result in an expensive, unpredictable and unnecessary permitting process for golf courses across the country. GCSAA has led the industry’s response to this rule, which included public comments filed with the EPA, to make sure that decision-makers write a rule that provides better clarity to golf course superintendents and golf properties.
Administrator Wheeler acknowledged GCSAA’s support in his remarks and thanked the association for its efforts during the press conference.
The golf industry has helped amplify golf’s voice on WOTUS by bringing to the attention of lawmakers during National Golf Day the need for a better rule.
The next step is to finalize the rule that replaces the 2015 WOTUS rule. Administrator Wheeler confirmed that this would be published by the end of the year. GCSAA will continue to fight for a rule that protects the principles of cooperative federalism in the Clean Water Act and recognizes the role that superintendents play as responsible stewards of water resources. There needs to be an appropriate balance between what surface waters are regulated by the states and what surface waters are regulated by the federal government.