NAHB members voiced their support for the Trump administration’s proposed definition of "waters of the United States" (WOTUS) during roundtables hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy in Denver on March 27 and Tampa on April 4. The roundtables were held to collect feedback from small businesses on the proposed rule. As an independent voice for small business within government, the Office of Advocacy will include the feedback from builders and developers in comments it submits on the WOTUS rule, which are due April 15.
The administration's revisions to the regulatory definition of WOTUS have been well-received by the home-building industry, with local NAHB members expressing their support and providing valuable feedback throughout the rulemaking process. At the roundtables, NAHB members explained the improvements of the proposed rule and its treatment of tributaries, ditches, and adjacent wetlands compared to prior rules.
Members who participated in the roundtables included:
Chérie Talbert, CEO of HBA of Metro Denver
, was also present to support NAHB members.
The WOTUS definition determines the extent of federally regulated waters under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that requires federal wetlands and stormwater permits for home-building activities. Compared to existing regulations, the proposed rule would narrow the waters that require federal permitting. Specifically, it would exclude short-lived ponds and streams and tributaries that only flow in response to a rain event from federal regulation. It would also exclude wetlands that are not directly connected to federally regulated bodies of water.
Speakers echoed similar sentiments to that of members who spoke at the Kansas City roundtable in February
— namely that the revision is a strong step in the right direction, with a few suggestions to further clarify requirements and make the rule easier to implement in the field.
For example, Stiegel noted: "I’m concerned about potential permitting delays from the open-ended process to compile, review and analyze evidence to determine whether a historic ditch is man-made or natural. If an observer cannot easily determine whether a feature is man-made or natural, the agencies should not subject it to federal permitting."
NAHB will continue to monitor activity surrounding the proposed rule.
The Environmental Protection Agency's and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' proposed WOTUS rule is open for public comment until April 15. NAHB members can visit nahb.org/wotus
for a template letter to use in their own comments.
For additional information, contact NAHB environmental policy analyst Evan Branosky