Clean Water Act: EPA Mandate Places 60 Percent Of U.S. Waters Under Control Of The Federal Government

EPA officials and the United States Army have announced a new regulation pertaining to the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Rule clarification details exactly what types of bodies of water fall under the stringent protections enacted by the federal government. The new rules will reportedly apply to 60 percent of waters in the United States.

Supporters of the Clean Water Act – Clean Water Rule feel the measures are necessary to protect waterways and the environment. Opponents to the hefty new regulations are concerned that property rights and states’ rights will be infringed upon.

The Clean Water Rule release is reportedly intended to “add some clarity” to two Clean Water Act Supreme Court decisions, from 2001 and 2006. The U.S. Supreme Court rulings are believed to have produced confusion relating to exactly what type of waters the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate under the Clean Water Act.

The joint EPA and U.S. Army release states that the federal government has “jurisdiction over tributaries that show physical features of flowing water as well as water that is within a certain proximity to rivers, lake and tributaries.”

The Clean Water Act and the newly proposed EPA regulations mean that pond and streams located on private property could soon be controlled not by the landowners that pay taxes on the property, but the federal government agency.

The controversial Clean Water Act has been deemed nothing more than a water rights power grab by some Americans. The EPA mandates could ultimately permit the federal government to control streams, ditches, gullies, and low spots where just a little bit of water collects on a seasonal basis.

An EPA water regulations proposal announced last September reportedly stated that streams of any size regardless of their “size or how frequently they flow,” would be fall under the control of the government if they are either “connected to or have an impact on” downstream waters.

Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works, said there are now “physical, measurable limits” pertaining to bodies of water close to those that are protected by the Clean Water Act.

The Clean Water Rule states that “an adjacent body of water is protected if it is within what is known as the 100-year flood plain” or an area that has a “1 percent chance of flooding each year but is not more than 1,500 feet from a waterway covered under the Clean Water Act,” Darcy noted. The Army civil works representative also said that the Clean Water Act will not apply to formations like ditches, where there is not a “consistent flow of water.”

“The final rule doesn’t create any new permitting requirements for agriculture, maintains all previous exemptions and exclusions, and even adds exclusions for features like artificial lakes and ponds, water-filled depressions from construction, and grass swales — all to make clear our goal is to stay out of agriculture’s way,” Darcy and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stated in a jointly penned release.

Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, who is also the chair of the Senate’s Environment And Public Works Committee, criticized the expansiveness of the Clean Water Act – Clean Water Rule.

“Despite their assurances, it appears that EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have failed to keep their promises to Congress and the American people. In fact, instead of fixing the overreach in the proposed rule, remarkably, EPA has made it even broader.”

President Barack Obama said the Clean Water Rule would help make sure polluters are held accountable for their actions.

“One in three Americans now gets drinking water from streams lacking clear protection, and businesses and industries that depend on clean water face uncertainty and delay, which costs our economy every day. Too many of our waters have been left vulnerable to pollution. This rule will provide the clarity and certainty businesses and industry need about which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and it will ensure polluters who knowingly threaten our waters can be held accountable. “

The House of Representatives has passed legislation to block the rule and the Senate is reportedly considering legislation that would mandate the EPA change the clean water rule.

What do you think about the Clean Water Act and the Clean Water Rule?

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