Clean Water Restoration Act out of committee
The Clean Water Restoration Act (CWRA) has moved out of the Congressional Environment and Public Works Committee and is expected to go to the Senate soon, according to the Washington-based National Association of Counties (NACo). NACo and other groups oppose CWRA, saying its removal of the word “navigable” from the definition of bodies of water covered by the existing Clean Water Act (CWA) could lead to over regulation.
An amendment to the current version of CWRA attempts to redefine which waters would fall under the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ 404 permit program, but it still removes the “navigable” before “waters of the United States” in the definition of terms, according to NACo. While Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., introduced CWRA in an effort to clarify federal jurisdiction over waters of the United States, the removal of the word “navigable” could expand the definition to include bodies of water as small as a drainage ditch, NACo and other CWRA opponents say.
Many counties believe that removing the term “navigable” from the act will have a significant economic impact, affecting land use decisions and creating substantial unfunded mandates. “This is a big deal for counties for two reasons — time and money. CWA permits, whether 402- or 404-related, can take a lot of time to get and often have ‘special conditions’ attached to them that cost a lot of money such as mitigation requirements,” said Dennis Fink, St. Louis County, Minn., commissioner and chair of NACo’s Land Use Subcommittee of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee.
View more information on NACo’s Web site.