Clean water is essential to life. It creates the opportunity for a healthy environment, a growing economy and allows us to live in vibrant neighborhoods across this country. That’s why the National Association of Realtors®—including Tennessee REALTORS®continue to support voluntary, market-based solutions that enhance the quality of our water resources while protecting private property rights.

Back in April of 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a joint, proposed rule designed to clarify protection of streams and wetlands, oversight over which falls under the Clean Water Act. The directive formed what came to be known as Waters of the U.S., or WOTUS, and quickly emerged as one of the Obama administration’s most talked about—and controversial—regulations.

However, as it was written nearly five years ago, WOTUS greatly expanded the federal government’s control over local land use decisions, ceding authority to those in Washington who were too often unaware of how their directives impacted communities here in Tennessee, stifling local businesses and our overall economy.

As the EPA works to improve upon the original WOTUS rule—ensuring clean water is protected and prioritized as Congress intended when it passed the Clean Water Act—Tennessee REALTORS®, along with potential home buyers and property owners across the U.S., urge the EPA to minimize the unnecessary regulations, costs and uncertainty that have come with WOTUS.

Earlier this month, the EPA released a proposed rule intended to do just that.

Right now, 22 states have filed lawsuits fighting WOTUS’ implementation, creating an inconsistent and uncertain national regulatory framework that has held back the economy in the communities impacted most by the EPA’s rule, specifically here in the Volunteer State.

The EPA’s newest proposed rule would establish national consistency and rebalance the relationship between the federal government and states in managing land and water resources. It would make it easier to understand where the Clean Water Act applies and where it does not, eliminating timely and potentially expensive regulatory burdens for well-meaning business and property owners.

The EPA’s ongoing push to rework WOTUS is a positive, defined step toward obtaining a clear and consistent definition of this rule, a welcomed move that will help provide certainty to the development and real estate industry. With that certainty, an improved business climate and a stronger housing market will follow. And that’s something we should all hope to see. To weigh in to the EPA about its latest proposed rulemaking, please submit your comments here.

Tennessee REALTORS® is one of the state’s largest and most influential trade associations. Consisting of 21 local associations and 29,000+ members, the association provides a variety of services including legislative and regulatory advocacy, professional development, professional-standards training, and transaction-management solutions. To learn more, visit