On June 22, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the Department of the Army’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule: Definition of “Waters of the United States (WOTUS)” became effective. This final rule establishes the scope of federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The Navigable Waters Protection Rule includes four simple categories of jurisdictional waters.
Impacts from the discharge of dredge and fill material into waters now excluded from the definition of WOTUS (non-jurisdictional waters), most notably ephemeral streams, are no longer required to get a federal 404 permit. IDEM will continue to regulate impacts to isolated wetlands under Indiana’s State Regulated Wetland Law. While ephemeral streams are no longer included in the definition of waters of the United States (WOTUS) these streams, which flow only part of the year, provide many upstream and downstream benefits, they:
- Protect against floods,
- Filter pollutants,
- Recycle potentially-harmful nutrients,
- Provide food and habitat for many types of fish,
- Play a critical role in maintaining the quality and supply of our drinking water,
- Ensure a continual flow of water to surface waters,
- Help recharge underground aquifers.
IDEM encourages the consideration and avoidance, minimization and mitigation of impacts to downstream waters when filling ephemeral streams.