Examining the Term “Waters of The United States” in Its Historical Context 

Susan Parker Bodine, Former Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Executive Summary: No statute pursues its objective at all costs. Congress is far more chary when granting authority to administrative agencies. Yet, many judges have relied on the goals of the Clean Water Act when interpreting the definition of “navigable waters.” Adopting the same approach, in 2015 EPA even relied on scientific studies of dispersal of biological material through animals and birds to help support a broad definition of “water of the United States.” This purposive approach to Clean Water Act jurisdiction is not supported by the text, structure, or historical context of the Clean Water Act.