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What Are "Waters of the United States"?

Presents definition of this term as found in federal statute.

Under Title 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section (§) 122.2 Exit the TCEQ, "Waters of the United States" or "waters of the U.S." has a specific meaning:

(a) all waters which are currently used, were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters which are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;

(b) all interstate waters, including interstate wetlands;

(c) all other waters such as intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds that the use, degradation, or destruction of which would affect or could affect interstate or foreign commerce including any such waters:

(1) which are or could be used by interstate or foreign travelers for recreational or other purposes;

(2) from which fish or shellfish are or could be taken and sold in interstate or foreign commerce; or

(3) which are used or could be used for industrial purposes by industries in interstate commerce;

(d) all impoundments of waters otherwise defined as waters of the United States under this definition;

(e) tributaries of waters identified in paragraphs (a) through (d) of this definition;

(f) the territorial sea; and

(g) wetlands adjacent to waters (other than waters that are themselves wetlands) identified in paragraphs (a) through (f) of this definition.

Waste treatment systems, including treatment ponds or lagoons designed to meet the requirements of CWA are not waters of the United States. This exclusion applies only to manmade bodies of water which neither were originally created in waters of the United States (such as disposal area in wetlands) nor resulted from the impoundment of waters of the United States. Waters of the United States do not include prior converted cropland. Notwithstanding the determination of an area’s status as prior converted cropland by any other federal agency, for the purposes of the Clean Water Act, the final authority regarding Clean Water Act jurisdiction remains with EPA.