Counties team with farmers to fight Clean Water Act expansion
The Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo) is working with the Washington-based American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) to protest the inclusion of new language in the Clean Water Act (CWA) that both groups say would give too much power to federal regulation of the nation’s waterways. The new language, which is part of the proposed Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) to expand CWA, would remove the word “navigable” from the definition of bodies of water that fall under CWA, potentially meaning even ditches and small ponds would be subject to federal regulation.
While NACo and AFBF officials say they support current CWA provisions, they say CWRA would add extra time and costs to projects affecting any body of water. “The legislation would drastically expand federal clean water jurisdiction and create significant bureaucratic obstacles and lead to increased costs to counties without necessarily enhancing environmental protections of waterways and wetlands,” NACo President Don Stapley said in a statement.
AFBF President Bob Stallman called CWRA “regulatory overkill.” “If the term ‘navigable’ is removed, it is possible that ditches, pipes, streets, gutters, manmade ponds, drainage features, desert washes and other features could be regulated,” Stapley said. “Additionally, activities such as mosquito and fire abatement prohibitions [and] regulating rain gutters beside homes could also be regulated. This would be extremely problematic and costly to counties.”
CWRA supporters have said it is meant to clarify CWA and would not alter existing regulations.
View more information about CWRA on the National Association of Counties’ Web site.