This bill would only allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to regulate specified navigable waterways.
It negates a proposal by the EPA and the Corps of Engineers to broaden the federal government’s regulatory authority over things like protecting water quality, navigable waterways, and protecting wildlife/insect habitats and their water supply.
Waters of the U.S. that would be impacted by this legislation and relevant federal regulations include:
Traditional navigable waters and interstate waters;
Streams identified on maps (scaled to EPA use) that identify potential sources of drinking water;
Streams with enough flow to carry pollutants to a navigable waterway based on statistically valid measures of flow for that geographic area;
Wetlands next to U.S. waters that protect water quality by blocking pollutants from entering navigable waters;
Areas unlawfully filled without a required permit.
Waters that would not be effected by this legislation and relevant federal regulations include:
Water located below the surface of the land — including soil water and groundwater;
Water outside of rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, or wetlands — including channels that have no bed, bank, or ordinary high water mark or hydrologic connection to traditional navigable waters;
Stormwater, floodwater, agricultural water, wastewater, municipal/industrial water supply management systems;
Streams that lack the flow to carry pollutants to navigable waters;
Previously converted croplands;
Areas lawfully filled under a permit or areas exempt from permitting.
The EPA and USACE would be kept from asserting federal control on:
The use of a body of water by an organism, including a migratory bird;
The supply of water to a groundwater aquifer and the storage of water in an isolated waterbody;
The water cycle, including the supply of water through evaporation, transpiration, condensation, precipitation, overland flow, and movement of water in an aquifer.
Before moving forward with any future regulatory proposals, the EPA and the USACE would have to perform a number of consultations and analyses in conjunction with existing federal laws and executive orders. The EPA and Corps of Engineers would have until December 31, 2016 to draft new proposed regulations defining “waters of the U.S.” based on the guidelines in this legislation.