Waters of the U.S.


Regulatory Guidance Letter (RGL) 16-01

Purpose: Approved jurisdictional determinations (AJDs) and preliminary JDs (PJDs) are tools used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to help implement Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Sections 9 and 10 of the River and Harbors Act of 1899 (RHA). Both types of JDs specify what geographic areas will be treated as subject to regulation by the Corps under one or both statutes.

    Public Notice for RGL 16-01

    Questions and Answers for RGL 16-01

    Quick Reference Chart for RGL 16-01

    Request for Jurisdictional Determination (JD) Form ENG 6247

    Request for Preliminary Jurisdictional Determination (PJD) Form ENG 6249

NOTE:  Mozilla, Firefox browser is recommended for viewing ENG Forms 6247 & 6247If you receive an error message regarding your PDF viewer, right click the "Application Form" link and select "Save Link As" to download the application and select "Enable All Features" to view the form in Adobe Acrobat.

Clean Water Act regulatory programs address “navigable waters,” defined in the statute as “the waters of the United States (WOTUS), including the territorial seas.”  However, the Clean Water Act does not define WOTUS, as Congress left further clarification to the agencies. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army (Army) have defined WOTUS by regulation since the 1970s. 

Navigable waters of the United States

Navigable waters of the U.S. (definition found at 33 CFR Part 329.4) are those waters that are subject to the ebb and flow of the tide and/or are presently used, or have been used in the past, or may be susceptible for use to transport interstate or foreign commerce. A determination of navigability, once made, applies laterally over the entire surface of the waterbody, and is not extinguished by later actions or events which impede or destroy navigable capacity. The several factors which must be examined when making a determination whether a waterbody is a navigable water of the U.S. are listed below. Generally, the following conditions must be satisfied:

    1. Past, present, or potential presence of interstate or foreign commerce;
    2. Physical capabilities for use by commerce as in paragraph (a) of this section; and
    3. Defined geographic limits of the waterbody.

Waters Of The U.S. Rule Status and Guidance

The following is a list of waters within the Albuquerque District's area of responsibility which have been determined to be jurisdictional under the Rivers and Habors Act. These are commonly referred to as Section 10 waters.

  • The Rio Grande from the American Dam in El Paso, Texas, downstream to the limit of the Albuquerque District near the Amistad Dam in Texas.
  • Portions of the Amistad Reservoir on the Rio Grande in Texas, at elevations of 1117 feet and below.
  • Navajo Reservoir in New Mexico and Colorado.
  • The Colorado River from the 5th Street Bridge in Grand Junction, Colorado, downstream to the Colorado-Utah state line.

Jurisdictional Determination Information

To request a JD, contact your area Regulatory office.

Additional resources: