Republican former EPA administrators raise concerns about Trump agency Christine Todd Whitman, William Reilly and Lee Thomas testified before Congress about the leadership of the EPA, which they rated a "D, or lower." Josh Haner/The New York Times.

The Trump administration will remove Obama-era clean water protections intended to protect rivers, streams, wetlands and other bodies of water from pollution and runoff from industrial facilities and agriculture on Thursday, finalizing one of President Donald Trump's signature campaign promises to farmers.

Efforts continue on opening up national parks and public land for extraction and development.

The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers altered the definition of what is covered under federal clean water protections as a "Water of the United States," or WOTUS, replacing the broader language put in place under former President Barack Obama. The updated rule will replace protections that are currently only in effect in some states, but have faced multiple legal challenges.

Under the EPA's new rules, the federal government will no longer protect streams that only flow during some parts of the year or after heavy rain, or wetlands that are not connected to larger bodies of water.

The Trump administration will, however, still maintain federal protections for navigable waters such as major rivers and lakes and any tributaries and wetlands that flow directly into them.

"Today, thanks to our new rule, our nation's farmers, ranchers, developers, manufacturers and other landowners can refocus on providing the food, shelter and other commodities that Americans rely on every day instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on attorneys and consultants to determine whether waters on their own land fall under the control of the federal government," EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said on a call with reporters.

But advocates for the broader protections argue that seasonal streams and wetlands can play a big role in controlling flooding and that removing protections could jeopardize that -- or allow more pollution to flow downstream when it rains.

Farmers, ranchers, and developers have long complained that the protections impose too many rules on areas that weren't major bodies of water. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt frequently called it government overreach to regulate a dry pond or creek bed as a "water of the United States."

Last weekend the president called the old regulation "ridiculous" and "disastrous" and said it took away farmers' property rights but that the administration's new policy would only benefit farmers, ranchers, and other industries.

"This rule gave bureaucrats virtually unlimited authority to regulate stock tanks, drainage ditches, and isolated ponds as navigable waterways and navigable water," Trump said in remarks to the American Farm Bureau Federation annual convention on Sunday. "You believe that? Sometimes, you'd have a puddle -- a little puddle, and they'd consider that a lake."

He added, "As long as I'm president, government will never micromanage America's farmers. You're going to micromanage your own farm, and that's the way it should be."

He did not include developers in his statement.