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Supreme Court Ruling on WOTUS
WOTUS Cases Head to Federal District Courts


When the Obama administration issued the "Clean Water Rule," aka the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule in Feb. 2015, it gave the EPA and the Department of the Army review powers over the Clean Water Rule, which resulted in over 100 suits challenging that authority.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) in the Waters of the United States ruling that occurred in 2015 under the Obama administration.

On October 11, 2017, NAM filed a lawsuit against the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers over the WOTUS legislation. The EPA proposed an amendment to allow federal appellate courts to specify which "bodies of water" fell under WOTUS.

NAM asserted the proposed legislation was overreaching, as it gave the federal government large jurisdiction over a vast number of bodies of water, including roadside ditches, short-lived streams and any other area where water may flow once in a 100 years.

The Supreme Court unanimously decided on January 22, 2018 that federal district courts, not federal courts of appeals, have jurisdiction to review the WOTUS law and decide what comprises federal waters. The decision says nothing about the rule's merits, but the court's decision is viewed as ending jurisdictional confusion in the lower courts.

"This Supreme Court decision brings greater clarity to an important issue that has bogged down the litigation over this and other Clean Water Act regulations for years," said Ellen Steen, a member of the General Counsel of the American Farm Bureau Federation

For more on WOTUS and how it affects the landscape industry, visit LandscapeOnline's article search page ( and use the keyword search term "WOTUS."

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August 25, 2019, 5:34 am PDT

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