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. 

The public comment period closed on November 14, 2014. The agencies will review the comments and plan to release a final rule by late Spring of 2015. The focus now moves to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers plan to introduce and debate legislation to stop the proposed rule.

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.

EPA and Corps Documents

NACo Resources

NACo Letters on "Waters of the U.S"

Other Resources

October 12, 2014 Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA) writes in the ​Daily Progress on the need to ditch the proposed WOTUS rule.
​October 7, 2014 ​Sen. Donnelly (D-IN) to EPA and Army Corps: Clarify Proposed WOTUS Rule
​October 6, 2014 EPA and Army Corps of Engineers announce WOTUS comment period extended from October 20, 2014 to November 14, 2014.​
​​September 24, 2014 Letter: EPA's 'Water' Fix Would Create Confusion​
September 9, 2014 ​NACo letter to House Transportation + Infrastructure Committee in support of H.R. 5078​
​August 18, 2014 Proposal on Federally Protected Water Sparks Local Opposition 
August 16, 2014 EPA's proposed definition change concerns county, Thune
July 8, 2014 Op-Ed by NACo 1st VP Sallie Clark: "Proposed Waters of U.S. Rule Would Drown Counties in Red Tape​​"
June 11, 2014​​ NACo Testifies on "Waters of the U.S." Proposed Rule​​​

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

Educate Your Member of Congress

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

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

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

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

Changing #WOTUS definition: More Fed jurisdiction = tighter local regulations = more unfunded mandates for #counties

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​