On Jan. 23, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) released the final 2020 Clean Water Rule otherwise known as the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, redefining "Waters of the United States". This is the second step of a process to repeal and replace the 2015 Clean Water Rule, (commonly known as “WOTUS”). GCSAA has advanced the golf industry’s opposition to the WOTUS rule since it was first proposed in 2014, including meetings with federal regulators, members of Congress and their staffs and other impacted industries to make sure golf’s voice was heard.
GCSAA is pleased to see a new rule that reflects the results of advocacy efforts over the last several years, which includes the production of a rule built on cooperative federalism.
The sweeping scope of WOTUS had resulted in a confusing and cumbersome permitting process for golf courses across the country. It has been replaced by a new rule that, among other things,
- Limiting tributaries to surface water conveyances that contribute perennial or intermittent flow during the year.
- Limiting adjacent waters to those wetlands that either touch or have a hydrological connection to a water covered by the CWA.
- Limiting ditches to those that 1) fall into the category of traditional navigable waters; 2) are constructed in tributaries or relocate or alter tributaries; or 3) are constructed in adjacent wetland and meet the tributary definition.
The final rule also details 12 categories of exclusions, features that are not “waters of the United States,” such as features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall (e.g., ephemeral features); groundwater; many ditches; prior converted cropland; and waste treatment systems.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule will take effect 60 days from date of publication in the Federal Register. GCSAA will continue to monitor developments as the rule becomes final and is implemented at the facility level.
More information on the new rule can be found here.