New U.S. wetland protection guidance issued



A new joint guidance intended to help field officers distinguish whether or not specific wetlands fall under federal protection will expand the amount of hydrological and ecological information collected for wetlands, according to government officials.

The guidance, issued on 5 June by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, should help the agencies comply with a June 2006 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States. The Court ruled against the plaintiffs, who wanted to fill in their wetlands, but was split over further details regarding how wetlands are protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA), which governs the ecological health of U.S. navigable waters. Using the justices' written opinions, the EPA and Corps adopted specific criteria to assess whether wetlands are protected under the CWA.