As the Clean Water Act celebrates its 50th anniversary, much uncertainty remains about the definition of “Waters of the United States,” a key term to determine jurisdiction under the Act. In recent years, the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations have all worked to refine or change the definition of WOTUS, but those efforts have either failed in court or become undone by the next administration, leaving the imperfect test from the Rapanos Supreme Court decision to govern this field. This year, the Supreme Court once again decided to weigh in on WOTUS in Sacketts v. EPA, for which oral argument just occurred.

In this article, DWT attorney Olivier Jamin and former DWT attorney Rick Glick reflect on the past 50 years of WOTUS uncertainty and on the potential impacts of the Sacketts case.