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Obama Administration Releases Clean Water Framework & Revised Guidance Defining Waters of the U.S.

Published On: 6/2/2011

The Obama Administration has released a national Clean Water Framework in conjunction with the release by the U.S. EPA and Army Corps of Engineers of a revised guidance defining waters of the U.S.

The Obama Administration released a national Clean Water Framework on April 27, 2011, that affirms its comprehensive commitment to protecting the health of America's waters. The framework recognizes the importance of clean water and healthy watersheds to our economy, environment and communities, and emphasizes the importance of partnerships and coordination with states, local communities, stakeholders, and the public to protect public health and water quality, and promote the nation’s energy and economic security. Read the Obama Administration’s Clean Water Framework here.

In conjunction with the relsease of the Clean Water Framework, the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have developed draft guidance for determining whether a waterway, water body, or wetland is protected by the Clean Water Act. This guidance would replace previous guidance to reaffirm protection for critical waters. It also is intended to provide clearer, more predictable guidelines for determining which water bodies are protected by the Clean Water Act.

The draft guidance will be open for 60 days of public comment to allow all stakeholders to provide input and feedback before it is finalized. The U.S. EPA has indicated that it needs additional scientific evidence supporting hydrological, ecological, biological, and ecological linkages between small, non-navigable waters (e.g., headwater tributaries and isolated wetlands) and perennial streams/navigable waters in order to justify a ‘significant nexus’ between inland water bodies of all sizes. Comments are due by July 1, 2011 and may be submitted online by clicking here. Note that the most recent issue of In the Drift (Issue 10, Spring 2011) erroneously stated that the deadline for comment is July 26, 2011. The Science and Policy Committee is drafting a letter on behalf of the society. The committee seeks the assistance of all society members by sending supporting materials (i.e., citations with a brief description of their relevance) by June 15, 2011 to mikejpaul13@gmail.com.

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