The Obama administration proposed new rules to identify what waterways are subject to federal regulation, adopting a revision that has been opposed by farmers and builders.
The Environmental Protection Agency said today the proposal will reduce confusion when bodies of water are designated as federal and then require U.S. permits for actions such as discharges or dredging that would impact the waterway.
"It’s become too difficult to determine what is and what isn’t protected, and that’s put wetlands, streams and other water bodies at risk," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a video posted on the agency’s website.
For decades, government officials and businesses have disputed the meaning of one phrase—the "waters of the United States"—in a 1972 law to combat water pollution. The proposal today seeks to clear up when a water body does fall under that definition, and when it doesn’t.
"The proposal will make fishing better, and anglers should support it," Chris Wood, chief executive officer of Trout Unlimited, said in a statement. "Restoring protections to these waters ensures healthy habitat for fish and a bright future for anglers."