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Water: Wetlands

Wetlands and Aquatic Resources Regulatory Branch

The Wetlands and Aquatic Resources Regulatory Branch protects our Nation's aquatic resources, including wetlands, by organizing EPA's program and activities under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. Working closely with EPA Regional offices, other EPA offices, Federal and State agencies, and other stakeholders, the branch develops and reviews rulemaking, technical guidance, and interagency agreements to advance the objectives of the Clean Water Act. Primary areas of focus for the branch include maintaining clear geographic and activities jurisdiction on the program, improving the success of mitigation efforts that offset approved wetlands losses, developing a cumulative impacts assessment methodology and guidance, and ensuring effective program operations.

The branch assists in the review and analysis of development projects and permit applications affecting waters of the United States when they are elevated to EPA Headquarters. We work closely with EPA Regional offices in our review to ensure that environmental assessments have been made employing sound methods of interdisciplinary environmental impact analysis and that environmental criteria, as established in the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines, has been complied with. In doing so, we incorporate scientific considerations such as site specific and cumulative impacts of filling an aquatic site, and policy considerations such as the consistency of EPA actions with the Section 404 regulations. As a result, the branch routinely supports, reviews and participates in the development of a variety of environmental studies and reports.

Additionally, the branch sponsors numerous outreach efforts to provide colleagues, the regulated community and the public at large with information on the Nation's aquatic resources and the Clean Water Act program that protects them. The branch regularly publishes informational fact sheets, sponsors training programs and participates in conferences related to wetlands issues. The branch also sponsors regulatory training annually on Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and related issues.

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