Federal officials issued new waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) guidelines Dec. 11 to help protect farmers and landowners from intrusive government regulations.
In their proposal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers clarified federal authority under the Clean Water Act.
Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell applauded the proposed definition, which excludes ditches from regulation unless contributing flow to a perennial or intermittent stream.
“The proposed rule is good news for Alabama farmers and restores common sense to Clean Water Act enforcement,” Parnell said. “For years, farmers, businesses and homeowners have lived under the threat of government intrusion and costly penalties due to overaggressive actions of the Obama-era EPA. We appreciate the Trump administration, current EPA administration, Alabama’s congressional delegation and our state attorneys general for standing by farmers and landowners as we’ve fought back against the WOTUS rule.”
Under the Clean Water rule proposal, federally regulated areas include traditional navigable waters, tributaries to those waters, some ditches, certain lakes and ponds, impoundments of jurisdictional waters, and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters. The proposal also details non-waters of the U.S., such as areas that only contain water during or in response to rainfall; many ditches, including most roadside or farm ditches; prior converted cropland; stormwater control features; and waste treatment systems.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall thanked the EPA and Corps for investing time in a rule that will allow farmers to comply with laws while protecting water resources.
“Clean water is our way of life. Preserving our land and protecting our water means healthy places to live, work and play,” Duvall said. “We believe this new Clean Water Rule is rooted in common sense. It will protect our nation’s water resources and allow farmers to farm.”
The announcement is the second part in a two-step process to review and revise the definition of WOTUS consistent with President Donald Trump’s February 2017 executive order. A 60-day comment period is in effect.
EPA and the Corps will hold an informational webcast Jan. 10 and a listening session on the proposed rule Jan. 23 in Kansas City, KS.