Friday, January 24, 2020

Memo: Statement on Revision to Water of the United States Rule

Jan 24, 2020

To: Interested Parties
From: Sharon Martin, DEQ Public Affairs
Date: January 24, 2020
RE: Secretary Regan’s comments on the Revised Waters of the United States (“WOTUS”) Rule

“We are highly concerned about the impact of the revised “Waters of the U.S.” rule on North Carolina’s wetlands. The rule clearly ignores the science-based recommendations provided by this department to ensure the protection of the state’s water quality, unique natural resources and the economic benefits associated with them,” said Secretary Michael S. Regan. “DEQ will continue to use the state’s authority to protect North Carolina’s water quality and natural resources for the people of our state.”

Wetlands cover an estimated 5.7 million acres (8,906 square miles) of North Carolina, or 17% of the land area of the state. They play a critical role in filtering pollution and slowing stormwater from flooding events.

In comments on the proposed rule in April of 2019, DEQ advocated for a science based-approached to defining the Waters of the United States to preserve water quality and provide clarity for landowners.  DEQ objected to arbitrary changes in defining protected waters and raised concerns about the regulatory gap created by the changes that would need to be filled by new rules, laws and personnel to protect wetlands. DEQ also raised concerns about the increased burden on underfunded, understaffed regulatory agencies that work in partnership with the federal government to protect wetlands nation-wide.