WEBINAR: The Struggle to Define "Waters of the United States"

Originally aired August 14, 2019 | 1:00 - 2:00 PM ET

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Jesse J. Richardson
Professor of Law
West Virginia University College of Law

Jesse J. Richardson, Jr. is a Professor of Law and the Lead Land Use Attorney at the Land Use and Sustainable Development Law Clinic at the West Virginia University College of Law. Before coming to WVU, Mr. Richardson was an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech. His research and teaching focuses on land use law and water law. He began his legal career in private practice in his home town of Winchester, Virginia. Mr. Richardson is a Past President of the American Agricultural Law Association. Mr. Richardson previously served on the Virginia Water Policy Technical Advisory Committee. He was honored with the 1999 Professional Scholarship Award from the American Agricultural Law Association, the 2004 William E. Wine Award for a history of teaching Excellence from Virginia Tech (the highest teaching award granted by the university), and the 2009 University Certificate of Excellence in Outreach.


The Clean Water Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) authority to regulate “waters of the United States” (WOTUS). Science, politics and the law all present issues that make a clear definition difficult. Regulatory agencies initially defined the term. Then the courts stepped in. Several United States Supreme Court cases, often in the context of wetlands, have failed to clarify the issue and have, in fact, created more confusion. The latest Supreme Court pronouncement, in 2006, has proved particularly difficult to implement. This webinar briefly explores the history of WOTUS. The various rulemaking attempts since the 2006 United States Supreme Court decision are discussed. The webinar then analyzes the present situation and outlines areas of consensus and areas of fierce debate. Finally, likely next steps in the process are summarized.

Learning Objectives

Participants of this webinar will receive information of the following learning objectives:
  1. Describe the history and context of WOTUS.
  2. Identify major issues in the WOTUS debate.
  3. Evaluate possible WOTUS rules.

Webinar Recording & PDH Certificate

Included with your webinar registration is access to a recording of the program and a fillable certificate to self-report your Professional Development Hour (PDH) credit. Your PDH certificate will be available to download once you complete the registration process and receive your confirmation email. Access to the webinar recording is available on AWRA’s Webinar Center and in the email you’ll receive from “Facilitation Team" following the webinar. 


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