Identifying Waters of the United States

Wednesday, April 18, 2018
12:00 - 1:00 PM Central

Education Track: Wetland, Streambank, & Shoreline Restoration
Audience Level: Beginning to advanced
Price: $50 Members/ $65 Non-Members
Credit: 1 Professional Development Hour

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Your ability to identify whether a water body as a “water of the U.S.” has the potential to cost or save a project two of our favorite things; time and money. For example, if a project requires excavation of sediment from a pond and the pond is not a water of the U.S., then the project does not need a Section 404 permit. If a site is discharging fill to a ditch and that ditch also happens to be a water of the U.S. then you may be risking a cease and desist letter from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The process to identify a water of the U.S. is complicated and can’t always be resolved without direct input from the Corps of Engineers. But there are seven simple concepts that will help you reach a conclusion for every water body you encounter. This webinar presents the fundamental tests for identifying waters of the U.S. and uses real world examples to demonstrate how to make that determination.

The 7 parts to the current federal definition of waters of the U.S. are explained through practical examples. Altered ditches, ponds, and tributaries present the greatest challenge when identifying waters of the U.S. and face the greatest uncertainty as the definition is altered to fit the Trump administration’s policy vision. Additional tools are demonstrated to teach you how to identify and classify waters of the U.S. for any clean water act program. Although the basics of defining waters of the U.S. are introduced, veterans will benefit from review of the fundamentals and will have a chance to test their determination skills.

Waters of the U.S. are not static. To stay on top of their definition, you must embrace the melodrama of legal and political wrangling over their definition. The Clean Water Rule is wounded and not likely to reemerge except under a narrow set of circumstances. A new definition of waters of the U.S. is anticipated by the current administration soon. After the 2017 executive order to focus on the Scalia interpretation of waters of the U.S., we reexamine Scalia’s writing on the subject. In the webinar conclusion, we predict the next chapter in what is expected to be a continuing drama defining which waters are protected under the Clean Water Act.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn definition of waters of the U.S.
  2. Practice applying the definitions of waters of the U.S.
  3. Update on policy shifts and legal fights over the definition of waters of the U.S. and learn to predict the future of waters of the U.S. definitions.

Presented by Aaron Brewer 

Aaron Brewer is a Professional Geoscientist and a Certified Wetland Delineator Senior Project Manager for Apex Companies, LLC.

He is a State of Texas licensed Professional Geoscientist (P.G.) with 20 years of experience in environmental consulting split between site assessment and natural resource consulting. While earning a bachelor of science degree in Plant Biology from the University of Minnesota I worked on several wetland restoration research projects and focused my study on phytoremediation. He has worked as an environmental consultant since graduating in 1998. Aaron's range of experience includes due diligence evaluations, remediation system design and oversight, tank removal and regulatory closure, wetland delineation and permitting, endangered species assessments, cultural resources project management, and ecological risk assessment.

Aaron has been conducting wetland delineations and assisting clients with wetland permitting since 2000. He has maintained Wetland Delineator certification from the State of Minnesota since that program was initiated in 2005. His clients and their projects are located across the central United States, which puts him in regular contact with several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District offices in many different geographies.

The identification of wetlands and other aquatic features is always followed by questions of whether a water is a “water of the U.S.” and whether a proposed project is a regulated activity. Aaron's many endeavors into answering these questions have created a wealth of experience that he is eager to share in webinars and presentations to his clients and peers.

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Scott Velting, CPESC, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA