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News & Press: OTF News

WOTUS Update

Tuesday, August 18, 2015  
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Written by Zach Wike
Assistant Superintendent, Beavercreek Golf Club

On June 29, 2015, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers issued the final rule to redefine the "Waters of the United States’ (WOTUS) subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. This rule, which goes into effect on August 28, 2015, may have a significant impact on your facility.

As of August 28, you will need to make sure your facility is in compliance with the rule. There will be no grace period for the rule to take effect. As a turfgrass industry professional, there are several things that you need to do to make sure you are in compliance. The first step that needs to be taken is to evaluate your property to see whether your surface waters are subject to federal jurisdiction. These categories include:

1. Traditional navigable waters

2. Interstate waters

3. Territorial seas

4. Impoundments of otherwise jurisdictional waters

5. Tributaries

6. Adjacent waters

7. Enumerated regional feature with a significant nexus

8. Waters in the 100-year floodplain or within 4000 feet of a WOTUS with a significant nexus

Waters #1-6 are automatically federally protected. Waters #7-8 are determined to be federal protected on a case by case basis. If your facility has surface water that fall into one of these categories, you may need to obtain permits if you are going to conduct activities that would result in a "dredge/fill” activity or "discharge of a pollutant” to WOTUS. These activities may include making pesticide and fertilizer applications, moving soil, installing drainage, dredging ponds, aerating, and fixing stream alignments. Failing to obtain permits could result in penalties of up to $37,500 per violation per day although that is a worst case scenario.

This new rule will now encompass more facilities conducting routine maintenance practices. The complexity and lack of clarity in the rule will create many challenges in our industry. The WOTUS rule is far reaching and will have an impact on many industries. The Ohio Attorney General, along with 29 other states, have filed a lawsuit against the WOTUS ruling. Likewise, there are legislative efforts in both chambers of Congress to force the agencies to withdraw the rule and go back to the drawing board with impacted stakeholders to come up with a better rule.

At this time, there are a lot of unanswered questions and lack of cohesion between the state and federal agencies. Additional updates will follow as our industry’s concerns are addressed. In the meantime, turfgrass managers should be evaluating their properties to identify WOTUS areas. For additional information about the WOTUS ruling, please review the links below and contact the GCSAA Government Relations department with any further questions.

WOTUS – Final Rule as published in the Federal Register

NPDES Permit No: OHG870001

WOTUS Webinar – Implications and Implementation

FEMA 100-year Floodplain Map Database

NPDES 402 Permits

NPDES 404 Permits

Chava McKeel (
Director, Government Relations
1421 Research Park Dr.
Lawrence, KS 66049

Phone: (800) 472-7878

or contact Zach at:

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