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EPA Proposes Stricter Control of U.S. Tributaries, Lakes

Proposed rule could expand Clean Water Act jurisdiction

Published on: Nov 12, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have proposed a rule in the White House Office of Management and Budget to expand jurisdiction over U.S. tributaries, ponds, lakes and streams that affect larger navigable waters, according to a document provided to Bloomberg News.

Bloomberg says the Corps and EPA claim in the document that '"tributaries, as defined in the proposed regulation, in a watershed are similarly situated and have a significant nexus alone or in combination with other tributaries to the chemical, physical or biological integrity of traditional navigable waters, interstate waters or the territorial seas."'

Proposed rule could expand Clean Water Act jurisdiction
Proposed rule could expand Clean Water Act jurisdiction

The claim is based on a September study the agency released that says smaller waters are connected downstream to larger waterways and are subject to EPA regulation, Bloomberg notes.

The National Pork Producers Council in a Friday update said the draft proposal would bring Clean Water Act jurisdiction to "man-altered and man-made water bodies, including farm ditches, tile drainage and field filter strips."

NPPC further notes that if the draft rule becomes final in its current form, EPA and the Corps will have jurisdiction over large tracts of state and private lands, and CWA permits could be required for a host of activities on them.

For example, NPPC says farmers "could be required to obtain permits to apply manure, fertilizer or pesticides and, possibly, to plant seeds."

NPPC, along with other ag organizations, submitted comments last week on the September report that served as the foundation for the proposed rule, noting similar concerns of expanded CWA jurisdiction in writing.

The group says previous judgments by the Supreme Court have made it clear that to regulate additional water bodies, EPA must show a hydrologic connection to navigable waters.