• Mark Ryan


Updated: 16 hours ago

The following is a brief guest-blogger presentation with Donna Downing. Donna and I collaborated on the Clean Water Act Handbook, where she wrote the WOTUS chapter. I worked with Donna at EPA, and she is now with the Association of State Wetlands Managers. She turned me on to the EPA website discussed below.

Mark: This is a really interesting site. EPA downloads all of the JDs from the Corps on a daily basis and plots where they are occurring and what the result is. The link takes you to a map of the U.S. showing all of the JDs, and the data base is searchable.

Donna: EPA set up this website in August 2015 as a tool for quickly identifying waters determined to be WOTUS and non-WOTUS in a particular area. The site includes all approved (i.e., final) jurisdictional determinations since August 2015 that are still valid, which typically means within five years of the JD’s completion. The site’s filters allow you to sort data in various ways.

For example, if you’re curious about the percentage of waters found jurisdictional under the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, click on the columns/filter box, select “Navigable Waters Protection Rule” and under Waters of the US select “all.” The result is 7917 JDs made under the NWPR as of today. Then, click “yes” (as opposed to “all) under Waters of the US and the database shows 731, indicating slightly over 9% of the total JDs completed under the NWPR found jurisdictional waters. Similar analyses show that the Clean Water Rule found 42% of waters jurisdictional (2721 of 6468) and 41% under the 1986/88 definition (22962 of 54996).

The website also will sort data by geographic location, resource type, data, and other parameters, and display results on a variety of map types, such as photographic, topographic, street, and the like. The website is set up for those of us (such as myself) who are not particularly database-savvy and so is fairly easy to use. Pretty cool, eh?

Mark: I encourage everyone to try this website out. It really highlights how important JDs are and shows graphically what effect the 2020 WOTUS rule is having on our nation’s waters. Once a wetland or ephemeral stream is filled, it’s gone. I expect that developers will be pushing hard to have their water features declared nonjurisdictional as quickly as possible in order to take advantage of the relaxed protections afforded by the 2020 rule before it is withdrawn and replaced by the new administration.

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