In other words, WOTUS matters to everyone.
The central issue is the categorization of the various types of bodies of water in the US, and if they are “navigable,” which puts them under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In areas where the EPA has jurisdiction, permits are required for any instance of “pollutant discharge,” defined by the Clean Water Act (CWA) as the “addition of any pollutant to navigable waters from any point source.”
Unless it is stopped in court, a recent rule change by the Biden administration will subject every ditch, slough, and puddle to EPA rules.
Committing an offense to the CWA, even unintentionally, is no small thing.
Under the CWA, a first-time offense for negligently discharging a pollutant into a WOTUS is punishable by up to $25,000 per day in fines and up to one year in prison; for knowingly discharging a pollutant without a permit is punishable by up to $50,000 per day and up to three years in prison, per violation. In addition, the EPA can also impose civil penalties of up to $64,618 per discharge, per day,