Waters of the United States

For years, big polluters have been trying to weaken the Clean Water Act. Under the Trump Administration, they got their way. 

Waters and Wetlands - photo of Bird in WetlandThat is why PEER joined with the Southern Environmental Law Center and other groups to sue the EPA for changing the definition of “water of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This rule change threatens clean drinking water sources throughout the United States. It removes a host of upstream waters, such as smaller streams, tributaries and millions of acres of wetlands from protection under the Clean Water Act More than half of the stream miles in the United States are now at risk of pollution, dumping and filling, as well as millions of acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States.  

Every previous modern president of both parties has extolled the importance of protecting wetlands. By contrast, Trump denigrated the policies of his predecessors, claiming they protect puddles and ditches, even though both are explicitly excluded from WOTUS. 

In addition to suing the EPA, PEER has filed a Scientific Integrity complaint against EPA senior officials for excluding both key scientific information and the analysis of its own experts​ in writing this rule. The complaint summarizes the accounts of current EPA employees and is co-signed by 44 former and current federal employees, including three former regional administrators, as well as experts from the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. ​The complaint has not yet been acted upon by the Biden administration.

​We will work around the clock to press the Biden administration to stand strong against big polluters and make sure our waterways have the protections they need.


Delray Deputy Utility Manager Cashiered   

Troubled Florida Water Utility Faces Gauntlet of Public Health Challenges

Letter to Chad Hardy – 03-31-2021 (PDF) 

DESCRIPTION: Letter to Chad Hardy regarding wastewater permits for the City of Delray Beach TO: Chad ...

Florida’s Clearwater Awash in Sewage Violations

More than 400 Sewage Overflows in Last Five Years; Almost No Enforcement

Florida Issues Drinking Water Safety Citations 

Delray Plagued by Persistent Contamination with Partially Treated Sewage

New EPA Lead and Copper Rule Inadequate

Final Rule Perpetuates Risk to Minority Communities 

Aerially Sprayed Pesticide Contains PFAS  

“Forever Chemicals” Potentially Spread Over Millions of Acres 

More PFAS Found in Maryland Water and Seafood  

Maryland Must Set Health Standards for Toxic “Forever Chemical”  

Rhode Island Ignores Sewage Dumping in Historic Harbor   

Federal Action Sought to Stop Sewage Discharges Befouling Sakonnet Harbor   

PEER Testifies Before Colorado Oil and Gas Commission

Kyla Bennett testified in front of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission to require a robust analysis of the impacts ...

BLOG | EPA’s Latest Toxic PFAS Whitewash Revealed

EPA delayed and continues to delay release of its interactive PFAS map, which shows local sources of PFAS, forever ...

Toxic PFAS Taints Delray And Boynton Beach 

Florida Needs to Develop Monitoring Program and Safety Standards 

BLOG | How GAO Is Helping Shine A Light on My Former Federal Agency

Former DOE scientist Bill Dam reveals groundwater contamination coming from several former uranium mills in ...

Trump Administration’s Wetland Deception 

One Federal Agency Lauds Wetlands as Another Seeks Their Destruction   

Sewage Spills Pose COVID-19 Risks  

Overflows into Drinking Water Sources May Create New Infection Vectors  

PEERMail | Taking Trump to Court Over Clean Water

PEER joined 13 conservation groups in filing a lawsuit in federal court against the administration’s effort to ...

Suit Against EPA’s Elimination of Clean Water Protections 

EPA Rule Paves Way for Destruction of Wetlands and Small Streams

New Water Rule Guts Wetlands Projects 

EPA’s Analysis Finds Nearly Half Billion Dollars in Annual Business Losses Possible 

PEERMail: The Worst One Yet

Of the estimated 95 Trump environmental rollbacks, one of the most dangerous is the aim to gut the Clean Water ...

EPA Political Appointees Violate Science Integrity Rules

Complaint Details HQ Systematically Sidelining Science in WOTUS Review

BLOG: EPA Science Advisors Slam EPA’s Proposed Water Rule

A working group of the EPA's Scientific Advisory Board blasts the Administration's efforts to drastically scale ...

Colorado Lags in Controlling Forever Chemicals

Dangerous Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water Without Enforceable Limits

BLOG: WOTUS Redefinition: New York

Impact of proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) redefinition on wetlands and waters in New York: a case study

Massachusetts Issues Permit for PFAS It Is Fighting

Big Discharge Slated for Merrimack River – Water Source for Half-Million

Forever Chemical Requires Cradle-to-Grave Approach

To Stem Exponential Spread All PFAS Chains Must Be Classified Hazardous

PEERMail | Fighting for the Planet in Court

Evidence compiled by the government’s own experts is our most valuable asset in demonstrating the irrationality of ...

WOTUS Redefinition: South Dakota

Impact of Proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Redefinition on Wetlands and Waters in South Dakota

South Dakota Ground Zero for Trump Water Rollbacks

State’s Drinking Water, Flood Control, and Wildlife Habitat at High Risk

Arid New Mexico To Get Much Drier Under Trump Plan

Virtually All Rivers and Streams, Many Wetlands to Lose Legal Protection

WOTUS Redefinition: New Mexico

Impact of Proposed Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) Redefinition on Wetlands and Waters in New Mexico

PEERMail: A Growing Water Crisis

As two PEER staffers, we are here to let you know some of the water issues we are working on and why we are ...

EPA Response To “Forever Chemical” Crisis A Total Dud

“Action Plan” Too Weak and Limited to Meaningfully Protect Public Health

Trump’s Rapidly Shriveling PFAs Response

Extensive Edits Embedded in Public Comment Page Eviscerate EPA Action Plan

EPA’s Hypocritical Drinking Water Proposal

Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Nation’s Drinking Water Quality

Trump Administration’s Budget Would Impair Safe Drinking Water

The proposed FY 2020 budget cuts $8.124 million (8%) from the drinking water program.

Trump’s Clean Water Debacle

Proposed Rewrite of WOTUS Threatens U.S. Water Security

CDC Punts on Studying PFAS Cancer Risks

Study to look at relationship between PFAS exposure and select health outcomes

Massachusetts Needs a PFAS Public Health Advisory for Game

“Forever Chemical” Buildup in Food Chain Affects Game and Fish in Toxic Hotspots

PFAS Breakthrough in Massachusetts

Army to Give Both Immediate Relief and Long-Term Treatment for Hard-Hit Town

Tampa Sewage Meltdown Early Eco-Test for Desantis

Federal Intervention Needed If State Continues to Ignore Major Pollution Violations

Agriculture Poisoning the Prairie Pothole Region

Pesticides and Pollution Runoff Imperil North America’s “Duck Factory”

Waters of the United States: History

WOTUS History The federal Clean Water Act  (CWA) was passed in 1972 in order to eliminate discharges of ...

Trump Clean Water Rollback Threatens U.S. Water Supply

Most Waters and Wetlands Would Lose Legal Protections against Pollution and Fill

Lake O’s Gateway City Spewing Illegal Wastewater

Clewiston Phosphorus and Other Pollution Violations Go Unpunished and Unabated

Tele-Press Conference on EPA Failure to Prevent Future Flint Crises

Retired EPA Experts Discuss Lack of Early Warning System to Avert Lead Drinking Water Tragedies

Venice Epitomizes Florida Water Pollution Crisis

Continued Illegal Discharges Amid Record Gulf Red Tide Outbreaks

EPA Has Done Little to Prevent Future Flint Crises

Agency Still Lacks Early Warning System to Avert Lead Drinking Water Tragedies

Drinking Water for Third of U.S. in Legal Tug-Of-War

On-Again Off-Again Clean Water Rule Protects Both Water Quality and Quantity

America’s Coastal Waters, Bays, and Estuaries in Bad Shape

EPA Classifies the Vast Majority of Our Marine Waters “Impaired” by Pollution

America Losing the War for Clean Water

More Than Half of U.S. Rivers and Two-Thirds of Lakes and Reservoirs Impaired

Pruitt’s Wacky Wotus Repeal Do-Over Digs Deeper Legal Hole

Supplemental Filing to Justify Jettisoning Clean Water Rule Runs Further Aground

Mega-Pollution Violations Befoul St. Johns River

Non-Enforcement Leaves Florida’s Longest River with Excess Bacteria and Nutrients

Feds Urged To Tackle Rampant Florida Water Pollution

Lack of State Enforcement vs. City of Lynn Haven Triggers Intervention Petition

Pruitt Hijacks National Stream and Wetlands Protections

Pruitt Strips EPA Offices of Decision Power on Pebble Mine and Other Big Projects

Heather Wylie: Kayaking to Save the L.A. River

Heather took part in a demonstration to protect the L.A. River, and footage of her kayaking to prove its ...

Brian McKenna: Michigan Environmental Anthropologist

An anthropologist in the University of Michigan-Dearborn's Department of Behavioral Sciences, Brian works as an ...

EPA Urged to Close Dirty Water Public Notice Loopholes

Schools, Day-Care, Nursing Homes Lack Warning on Unsafe Drinking Water

Many Floridians Unknowingly Drink Contaminated Water

No Notice to Residents at Thousands of Sites Polluted by Leaking Petroleum Tanks

Trump’s Radical Rollback of Clean Water Protections

Repeal and Replace Waters of U.S. Safeguards Rooted in “Alternative Facts”

Pruitt’s Massive Wetlands Shell Game

WOTUS Repeal Cost-Benefit Study Premised on Wetlands Having Zero Value

Fig Leaves No Cover for Drinking Water Radiation Rollback

Final Approval for Radical Radiation Rise in Water Supplies after Nuclear Release

Radical Drinking Water Radiation Rise Confirmed in EPA Plan

EPA Hid Planned Exposure Levels 1,000s of Times Safe Drinking Water Act Limits

Lawsuit to Bare Full Range of EPA Radiation Rollback

Ultra-High Exposures in Water after Nuclear Release but Details Remain Cloaked

EPA Should Keep Oversight of Florida Drinking Water

State Potable Water Program Is a Shambles and Getting Significantly Worse

Florida’s Drinking Problem – Unsafe Water

Widespread Potable Water Violations but Virtually Nonexistent Enforcement

Ultra-High Radiation Coming to Your Drinking Water

EPA Hiding True Impacts and Limiting Public Comment on Radioactive Water Plan

EPA Pushing Huge Hike in Drinking Water Radioactivity

Thousand-Fold Increase Following Fukushima-Type Incident – More than Bush Plan

Highlands Septic Study Faces Retraction Demand

Highlands Septic Study Faces Retraction Demand

Portrait of Florida Coddling Corporate Pollution Offenses

Hundreds of Violations Repeatedly Forgiven in Name of “Compliance Assistance”

Timid Step Toward Stemming Pharmaceutical Pollution

Timid Step Toward Stemming Pharmaceutical Pollution

End Dumping of Fracking Fluids

Rulemaking Petition Urges EPA to Ban Surface Discharge of Fracking Fluids

Major Florida Wastewater Violators Go Unpunished

Many Million Gallon/Day Dischargers Remain in Noncompliance for Years

Christie’s Barnegat Bay Shell Game

Regulatory Ruses to Evade Legal Duty to Impose Meaningful Pollution Controls

Study Documenting Barnegat Bay Decline Kept in Limbo

Land Use Driving Nutrient Loading; Pollution Diet Needed to Avert Tipping Point

More Safe Drinking Water Violations at Missouri State Parks

Cuivre River State Park Multiple Failures May Point to Uninspected Water Towers

New Jersey Hands Drinking Water Safeguards to Dupont

Corporate-Dominated Science Board Asks DuPont to Self-Assess Chemical Effects

New Jersey Oks Capping Toxic Soils Over Groundwater

Latest Christie Rollback for Developers Reverses 40-Year Public Health Policy

Missouri Park Water Systems Court Contamination

State Ignores Its Own Water Tower Standards as Whistleblower Hearing Nears

Agreement Paves Way for Eldorado Forest Trail Designations

Compromise Reopens Some Trails, Closes Some and Requires Restoration for Others

EPA Drops Conflict-Of-Interest Probe of Top Florida Officials

EPA Let Vinyard Run out the Clock on Complaint without Determining Violation

EPA Abdicates Oversight Role in Protecting Florida Waters

State Pollution Permitting Standards Warped to Accommodate Corporate Agenda

Boca Raton Drinking Water Violations Swept Under Rug

Scathing Palm Beach Health Department Findings Prompt Slap-on-Wrist Settlement

Missouri Parks’ Drinking Water Passes Federal Muster

Contaminated Water Confirmed in State Parks during 2012 Peak Visitation Season

Federal Review of Missouri Parks’ Drinking Water Sought

Whistleblower Cites Contaminated Water in State Parks and Lax Enforcement

Corporate Gambit on New Jersey’s Drinking Water

Legislation Would Limit Science That Could Be Used for Risk Assessments

Cascading Failures Threaten New Jersey Water Supplies

Abandonment of Climate Preparedness Work Aggravates Garden State’s Plight

Most U.S. Waters Are Polluted and Getting Dirtier

EPA Figures Show Grim Pollution Realities on 40th Anniversary of Clean Water Act

Aerial Spraying Leaves Pesticide Footprint in Local Waters

No Buffer Zone or Other Effort to Minimize Pesticide Discharge into Water Bodies

Boca Raton Drinking Water Violations Spark Health Action

Palm Beach Health Department Notice of Violation Orders Immediate Corrections

Corporate Shadow Over Jersey’s Tainted Groundwater Darkens

Science “Advisors” Push Dramatic Relaxation of Groundwater Cleanup Standards

Wacky Plans From Florida’s Top Environmental Officials

Sell State Lands to Foreign Nations, Move Offices to Parks and Pelletize State Forests

EPA Debarment Probes Discrepancies by Top Florida Official

Environment Secretary Vinyard’s Current Claims Contradict His Previous Filings

Developer Turns Living Stream Into a Polluted Waterway

Tennessee Project Prompts Suit Notice for Clean Water Act Violations

Twenty Seven New Jersey Superfund-Eligible Sites Left off List

EPA Still Reviewing Status of Unknown Number of Garden State Toxic Hotspots

Daytona Beach on a Sewage Spewing Spree

Federal Complaint Cites Major Continuing Pollution by Florida Wastewater Facility

Florida Top Environmental Official Fights Federal Debarment

Secretary Vinyard May Lose Authority over Water Quality Regulation at Key Time

Florida Top Officials’ Pollution Ties Violate Federal Law

EPA Funding of State Water Quality Programs in Jeopardy; Complaint Filed

EPA Inaction Imperils Clean Water Anti-Conflicts Safeguard

Governors in Florida and Maine Open Hen-House Doors to Fox with Corporate Ties

St. Johns River Municipal Polluter out of Control

Call for Federal Enforcement against Northeast Florida Wastewater Plant

Jersey Nixes Filtration Plan for Drinking Water

State Wants EPA to Act on Rising Chemical Contamination of Water Supplies

Boca Raton Utility Workers Blow Whistle on Health Risks

Employee Survey Underlines Drinking Water, Sewage and Big Compliance Questions