On April 21 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) jointly released a new proposed rule – Definition of Waters of the U.S. Under the Clean Water Act – that would amend the definition of “waters of the U.S.” and expand the range of waters that fall under federal jurisdiction. Counties could feel a major impact as more waters become federally protected and subject to new rules or standards.

Read NACo's analysis on how the proposed rule would impact counties​

The proposed rule would impact county-owned and maintained roadside ditches, flood control channels, drainage conveyances, stormwater systems, green infrastructure construction and maintenance.

New Waters of the U.S. Proposed Rule
How Your County can be Proactive


Submit Comments to the Federal Register on the "Waters of the U.S."

Submit an Op-Ed or Editorial to Your Local Media Outlet

Let Your Members of Congress Know

Pass a County Resolution on "Waters of the U.S."

Submit Pictures and Maps to NACo

​NACo needs pictures, examples and maps of county-impacted infrastructure. Please send the following information, if available, to NACo Associate Legislative Director Julie Ufner​.
  • ​​​Currently regulated, county-owned roadside ditches and flood-control channels

  • Non-regulated ditches, channels and stormwater conveyances

  • Green Infrastructure projects and brief explanations

  • GIS maps/layers showing county public infrastructure ditch systems in relation to uplands and wetlands areas

​Share these messages with your social media followers to raise awareness of the proposed rule, ask questions and propose recommendations

Make the Ask

Suspend current #WOTUS public comment period until the release of the @EPA Connectivity Report is issued​​

Raise Awareness

I​t's complicated: #Counties are both the regulators & regulated, new #WOTUS proposed rule has huge potential impact

New proposed #WOTUS rule would create huge burdens, challenges for #counties; many parts of rule ambiguous

Changes in the definition of #WOTUS will impact #county operations, increase cost & permitting time

Proposed #WOTUS rule brings more Qs than As--will significantly increase federal jurisdiction over CWA §404

Many inadequately defined terms in new proposed #WOTUS rule w/major potential impacts to #counties

#Counties are proud to partner with Feds, states, @EPA & @USACEHQ to protect nation's #WOTUS resources

Proposed #WOTUS rule: More federal jurisdiction = tighter local regulations = another unfunded mandate for #counties

Ask Questions

​What will be protected under proposed #WOTUS rule that isn't currently protected now? @EPA @USACEHQ

Isn't it premature for @EPA @USACEHQ to propose #WOTUS rule before finalizing Connectivity Report?

Is there a way to balance enviro protection w/public safety needs to streamline CWA §404 permitting? @EPA @USACEHQ

How will proposed #WOTUS rule impact non-CWA water delivery systems? @EPA @USACEHQ

What are the limits to "connectivity" in new #WOTUS proposed rule? @EPA @USACEHQ

#Counties have overlap w/some sovereign tribal lands, will interconnected ditches be regulated? #WOTUS @EPA @USACEHQ

County Infrastructure Potentially Affected 


  • ​​​​​​Public Safety Water Conveyances: Roads and roadside ditches, flood control channels, drainage conveyances, culverts, etc.
  • Stormwater Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4): Comprised of channels, ditches and pipes
  • Green Infrastructure Construction and Maintenance Projects: Includes, but not limited to low-impact development projects (LID), bioswales, vegetative buffers, constructed wetlands, stormwater detention ponds, etc.
  • Drinking Water Facilities and Infrastructure (not designed to meet CWA requirements): Reservoirs, dams, ponds, canals, large water transport systems (Central Arizona Project, California Aqueduct, Colorado River Aqueduct, etc.)
  • Water Reuse and Infrastructure: Includes facilities built to generate additional water supply, their ponds, recharge basins, canals and ditches.​

Associate Legislative Director, Environment, Energy & Land Use​