EPA Releases Final WOTUS Rule

May 27, 2015 10:20 AM
EPA Releases Final WOTUS Rule

The EPA on Wednesday released its final version of its “Waters of the U.S.” rule, likely causing another wave of controversy in the agricultural community.

In a morning call, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, outlined what has changed--and what has stayed the same--in the rule.

“Agriculture activities like plowing, harvesting, and moving livestock across a stream have long been exempt from federal clean water regulations," McCarthy said. "This rule will not change that.”

(Click here for the EPA's industry-specific fact sheets on the revised rule. The second sheet listed focuses on agriculture.)

The two officials said they hoped the new version would provide more clarity. “Our rule will make it clear which waters are covered and which ones are not,” said Darcy.

Here are some of the changes:

  • New protections for specific water features such as prairie potholes, Texas coastal prairie wetlands, and western vernal pools in California.
  • A more specific definition of tributaries, which are protected waters under the rule due to their relationship with downstream waters. Under the new rule, “a tributary must show physical features of flowing water—a bed, bank, and ordinary high water mark—to warrant protection.”
  • New and defined protections for waters located near rivers, lakes, and tributaries.
  • New exemptions for artificial lakes and ponds, grass swales, and “water-filled depressions from construction.”

Significantly, the new rule also specifically addressed ditches, which were called out in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s “Ditch the Rule” campaign as an example of the EPA’s regulatory overreach.

But the updated version may not please farmers and ranchers either, as they realize some of ditches on their land may qualify as protected waters. “Only ditches that look, act, and function like a tributary are covered because they carry pollution downstream,” said Darcy.

Click here to listen to the full press conference via My Farm Radio.

What do you think about the latest version of this rule? Let us know on the AgWeb discussion boards.

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Spell Check

Hennessey, OK
7/27/2015 12:47 PM

  Hey lawmakers, cut the epa budget....slow em down..please! This is gettin out a hand

Orion Deters
spring grove, MN
5/27/2015 12:49 PM

  Clarify this EPA, all federal bureaucracies must have their regulatory powers take away. Make congress do the job they were elected to do... You know, under the Constitution!?!?!?! The unelected, unaccountable part of government has just claimed control of your property. Just look at any typographical map, they claimed control of ditches for crying out loud, ditches! Please call your congress critter and your senators and then, call your state reps and ask them to do something about the federal government's overreach. They have power they don't realize and we need them to use it.

Doland, SD
5/27/2015 02:20 PM

  I agree that the federal agencies are out of control. Our congress has no reason to put up with idiotic rules and regulations. Simply call over and in the case of this latest EPA action tell them they are fired!!!! We as farmers have lost and continue to loose our freedom to produce. We don't need EPA's assistance to be good stewards. We are already there. Please congress do your job and stop all this over reach by people justifying a job. Sincerely one over regulated farmer.


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