US Army Corps of Engineers
North Atlantic Division Website

Regulatory News

9 June 2021 - EPA, Army Announce Intent to Revise Definition of Waters of the United States

The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of the Army have announced their intent to revise the definition of “waters of the United States” to better protect our nation’s vital water resources that support public health, environmental protection, agricultural activity, and economic growth.

After reviewing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule as directed by President Biden, the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant, permanent environmental degradation,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “We are committed to establishing a durable definition of ‘waters of the United States’ based on Supreme Court precedent and drawing from the lessons learned from the current and previous regulations, as well as input from a wide array of stakeholders, so we can better protect our nation’s waters, foster economic growth, and support thriving communities.

Together, the Department of the Army and EPA will develop a rule that is informed by our technical expertise, is straightforward to implement by our agencies and our state and Tribal co-regulators, and is shaped by the lived experience of local communities,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime A. Pinkham.

The agencies’ new regulatory effort will be guided by the following considerations:

 - Protecting water resources and our communities consistent with the Clean Water Act.
 - The latest science and the effects of climate change on our waters.
 - Emphasizing a rule with a practical implementation approach for state and Tribal partners.
 - Reflecting the experience of and input received from landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, Tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities with environmental justice concerns.

The agencies are committed to meaningful stakeholder engagement to ensure that a revised definition of waters of the United States considers essential clean water protections, as well as how the use of water supports key economic sectors. Further details of the agencies’ plans, including opportunity for public participation, will be conveyed in a forthcoming action. To learn more about the definition of waters of the United States, visit https://www.epa.gov/wotus.

Regulatory Program and Permitting

The Department of the Army Regulatory Program is one of the oldest in the federal government. Initially it served a fairly simple, straightforward purpose: to protect and maintain the navigable capacity of the nation's waters. Time, changing public needs, evolving policy, case law, and new statutory mandates have changed the complexion of the program, adding to its breadth, complexity, and authority.

The Regulatory Program is committed to protecting the Nation's aquatic resources, while allowing reasonable development through fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions. The Corps evaluates permit applications for essentially all construction activities that occur in the Nation's waters, including wetlands. The Corps' regulatory personnel ensure that any environmental impact on aquatic resources from these construction activities is avoided, minimized, or mitigated. We are dedicated to protecting the nation’s aquatic resources while allowing reasonable and necessary development to go forward. The heart of the Corps' regulatory program is the public interest review process, which is designed to produce fair, flexible and balanced permit decisions.

For more information on how to obtain a permit, visit https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program-and-Permits/. If you need help filling out a permit application form, contact your nearest District office using the contact information listed on this page's "North Atlantic Division Regulatory Offices" section.

There are times when decisions are appealed on the issuance or denial of a permit. For more information on the Division's administrative appeal process, visit https://www.nad.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Regulatory-Program/Appeals-Process/.