Court Rules Water Protection Rule Into Effect in 49 States

The U.S. District Court for Northern California denied a petition by a group of 17 states to block implementation of the Trump Administration's "Navigable Waters Protection Rule." As a result, the rule has gone into effect in 49 states. 
In U.S. District Court for Colorado, a judge granted a freeze on the law in that state. The state of Colorado is not among the 17 states that sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The state of Colorado filed a separate suit against the federal government.
In California, Judge Richard Seeborg stated that the states had "not made a sufficient showing to support an injunction or an order delaying the effective date of the new rule." However, Seeborg did allow that the result might be different if he was asked to weigh the merits of the rule as sound environmental policy, rather than under the Administrative Procedures Act.
Other lawsuits attacking the regulation are pending in district courts across the country, where litigants are pursuing similar efforts to block the measure.
APWA submitted comments to EPA on the proposed rule earlier this year, showing appreciation for the clarity the revised definition provides in terms of ditches and municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4’s). However, APWA expressed serious concerns regarding the revised definition and assumptions made in the proposed rule that are still valid in the new final rule. 
The new proposed rule could do serious harm to public works professionals and programs in three key areas:
  • Continued permitting uncertainty;
  • Assumptions regarding cooperative federalism;
  • Additional costs for water providers and water customers.
For more information on the new WOTUS rule, please contact APWA Government Affairs Manager Sean Garcia at, or by phone at (202) 218 – 6734.