Waters of the United States

What’s the Background?

The CWA jurisdiction of EPA and the Corps of Engineers has been the subject of significant litigation over the years, including a series of major U.S. Supreme Court cases that generally worked to limit the CWA’s reach and the agencies’ authority. Under WOTUS, which went into effect Aug. 28, 2015, the agencies’ jurisdiction expanded into farm fields, covering any discernable feature that possesses (or previously possessed) a bed, bank and high water mark. The expanded jurisdiction covered not just truly navigable rivers but also treat as WOTUS ditches, grassed waterways and ephemeral drainage such as gullies that can form in farm fields. Under the CWA, there is an absolute prohibition on discharging any pollutant whether manure, a chemical pesticide or fertilizer or even a seed of corn – into a WOTUS without a federal permit…For more click here.

Why Does It Matter to our Producers?

The federal Clean Water Act (CWA) is the primary statute protecting the nation’s surface waters. Its reach historically was limited to navigable waters, their tributaries and adjacent water bodies that are hydrologically connected to or that otherwise affect navigable waters. The law’s jurisdiction is split between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which have sought to substantially increase their authority by redefining WOTUS to include many farm fields and farm ditches. That expanded jurisdiction could have a negative impact on many agricultural practices.

What is NPPC’s position?

NPPC opposes the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule because it is overbroad and has significant technical problems, and the process the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency used to develop the rule violated basic due process and long-standing procedural protections. NPPC is urging the Trump EPA to rescind or rewrite the regulation. (The president Feb. 28, 2017, signed an Executive Order directing EPA to review the rule and either withdraw or rewrite it.)

“We all want clean water, but this rule isn’t about clean water, it’s about EPA and the Corps [of Engineers] taking over private property, growing the size of government, and micromanaging hundreds of farming and business activities.”
– NPPC Past President Dr. Ron Prestage