In May 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers released the final Clean Water rule (final rule). The final rule broadly defines waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) and expands those waters that fall within the federal government’s regulatory jurisdiction pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA).
The requirement for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits is a result of a 2009 U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Nat’l Cotton Council v. EPA. The court determined that under the Clean Water Act (CWA) discharges of pollutants (chemical pesticides) into Waters of the United States (WOTUS) require an NPDES permit. The ruling came despite EPA’s opposition and argument that pesticides applied in accordance with the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are exempt from CWA’s permitting requirements.