Waters of the United States


Waters of the United Statessearch for term

These are defined as follows:

  1. All waters that are currently used, or were used in the past, or may be susceptible to use in interstate or foreign commerce, including all waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide;
  2. All interstate waters, including interstate wetlandsi;
  3. All other waters, such as intrastate lakes, rivers, streams (including intermittent streams), mudflats, sandflats, wetlands, sloughs, prairie potholes, wet meadows, playa lakes, or natural ponds, the use, degradation or destruction of which could affect interstate or foreign commerce, including any such waters:
    • That are or could be used by interstate or foreign travelers for recreational or other purposed; or
    • From which fish or shell fish are or could be taken and sold in interstate or foreign commerce; or
    • That are used or could be used for industrial purposed by industries in interstate commerce;
  4. All impoundments of waters otherwise defined as waters of the United Statesi under this definition
  5. Tributaries of waters identified in paragraph(s) (1) through (4) of the section;
  6. The territorial sea;
  7. Wetlands adjacent to waters (other than waters that are themselves wetlands) identified in paragraph(s) (1) through (6) of this section.
  8. Waters of the United States do not include prior converted cropland. Notwithstanding the determination of an area’s status as prior converted cropland by any other federal agency, for the purposes of the Clean Water Act, the final authority regarding Clean Water Act jurisdictioni remains with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Waste treatment systems, including treatment ponds or lagoons designed to meet the requirements of Clean Water Act (other than cooling ponds as defined in 40 Code of Federal Regulationsi 423.11(m) that also meet the criteria of this definition), are not waters of the United States. See 33 Code of Federal Regulations 328.3(a) for more information.