At the beginning of June 2017, Civiltec Vice Present Chris Dusza participated in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ first Arizona Flood Control District Directors Meeting in Phoenix. Following this meeting, he was invited to join a national conference call hosted by the Corps and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On Monday, June 12, 2017, Chris joined voices from the EPA, Corps, and the National Association of Counties (NACo) in discussing an upcoming rewrite of the 2015 “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule as a part of President Trump’s executive orders.
WOTUS is a term used in the Clean Water Act to define which waters and their tributaries fall under federal or state jurisdiction. In 2015, President Obama issued Executive Order (EO) 13132, which requires federal agencies to consult with elected state and local government officials, or their respective national organizations, on yet-to-be-proposed rules that impact state and local governments. Since the 2015 EO was issued, NACo has expressed numerous concerns about the rule’s impact on county-maintained ditches and other water infrastructure.
President Trump issued an EO on February 28, 2017 that deals with restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by reviewing the existing WOTUS. As part of this new EO, the EPA and the Corps have come together to restore rule of law by reviewing several options in rule-making. The agencies’ efforts include developing a new WOTUS definition based on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s plurality opinion in the 2006 Rapanos v. United States court case, in which the court decided federal jurisdiction should only include waters with a relatively permanent flow.
As a representative of Coconino County Flood Control District, Chris was able to provide his expertise on flood control and water infrastructure in relation to the issue at hand. With participants from across the United States, the discussion was well-rounded and covered a myriad of relevant topics.
The group is planning to implement the new EO in two steps: first, the team will lead the withdrawal from the 2015 Clean Water Rule. Second, the EPA and the Corps will work with NACo and other regulatory agencies to develop a new rule consistent with the EO. This process will continue developing over the next several months.