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Water-Related News

How the Supreme Court’s wetlands ruling could impact pollution, flooding

The Supreme Court’s decision to curb federal regulations for wetlands could have far-reaching implications for America’s water.

The ruling is expected to open the nation up to more water pollution, experts say. And not only that: They say it could also make the country more vulnerable to floods.

The court Thursday narrowed the federal government’s authority to regulate wetlands, saying it only has jurisdiction over those that have a “continuous surface connection” with other regulated waters such as lakes or rivers.

In practice, this will mean that wetlands that don’t meet this definition will be open to development, unless they are in a state that has its own requirements.

“People will no longer need a permit to fill the wetlands,” Mark Ryan, a former Clean Water Act litigation specialist at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), told The Hill on Thursday.

“If you’re a developer and you buy a piece of farmland that had a bunch of wetlands on it that weren’t right next to the river … you could just go out and start filling those wetlands now. You don’t need a permit unless the state requires it,” Ryan said.

A significant number of wetlands are expected to be impacted by the ruling.