The federal Clean Water Act (CWA) is the main piece of federal legislation that protects the Nation's waters. Within the CWA, there are a number of sections that specifically address protection or regulation of wetlands. For example, Section 303 addresses water quality standards; Section 401 includes 401 Certification—to condition permits; Section 402 addresses the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES); and Section 404 includes the dredge and fill permitting program as well as State Assumption.

The Clean Water Act was weakened by the US Supreme Court after the split decision known as the Rapanos and Carabell Decision in 2006, which followed another complex debate known as the SWANCC Decision in 2001. The intent of the proposed rule is to clarify jurisdiction for the protection of the nation’s water resources in response to multiple requests from multiple sectors, including the agricultural community, consultants, regulators, developers, natural resource managers and conservation groups.

On Wednesday, May 27, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the Clean Water Rule to clarify jurisdiction over streams and wetlands. Since then legal challenges have held up the rule in court and actions taken by the Administration in 2018 have delayed implementation of the rule for two years while the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers begin the process of repealing the rule and replacing it with a more industry-friendly version. To view information about the rule on the EPA website, click here.

Throughout the years and all of the legal challenges beginning in 2001 and earlier, the Association of State Wetland Managers has worked to stay abreast of potential changes in jurisdiction and practical application of the Clean Water Act in order to keep state wetland program managers prepared and equipped to navigate any changes or impacts to their programs.

To view past recorded webinars regarding the Clean Water Act, legal challenges and the Clean Water Rule, click here.
To find information about future webinars regarding the Clean Water Act et al, click here.

2017 Actions & Information Regarding the Clean Water Rule

2015 Actions & Information Regarding the Clean Water Rule

Lawsuits filed in response to publication of Clean Water Rule

Useful Publications Regarding Wetlands & Jurisdictional Issue

Geographically Isolated Wetlands of the United States

ASWM has a robust collection of discussion papers on wetlands and jurisdictional issues, Rapanos, SWANCC and other significant court cases under Law on the menu.