Aegis Regulatory Alert - June 2023

Clean Water Act Scope Changes

What’s new: The Supreme Court issued its opinion on Sackett v. EPA May 25th, weighing in on the case challenging the scope of the Clean Water Act (CWA) protections. The Court opinion leaned heavily on dictionary definitions of waters, which is expected to substantially limit what qualifies as wetlands and streams in EPA regulations.  Changes include:

  • Wetlands are limited to those with a continuous surface connection to bodies that are waters of the United States in their own right, which are “indistinguishable from those waters."
  • The new water definitions may exclude intermittent streams.
  • The new water definitions may also exclude tributaries of traditionally navigable waters.

What's next: For Virginia, the DEQ announced in a memo on June 29 that the definition of state waters will not be impacted by changes to the working definitions of federal regulated waters. The Virginia DEQ will be working with private sector Certified Wetland Delineators to review delineations of wetlands and other surface waters for regulatory applicability. Other states with similar state-specific definitions may follow suit. 

Aegis continues to monitor regulatory changes on both a federal and a state level which could impact its clients’ sites and operations.