Agricultural groups on Friday unveiled an interactive website that shows land likely to be regulated by the federal Clean Water Act under a proposed rule from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Geosyntec Consultants, headquartered in Columbia, Md., used U.S. Geologic Survey data to develop maps of 17 states, depicting the areas that could fall under the jurisdiction of EPA and the Corps of Engineers if their "Waters of the United States" rule is finalized.
Currently, that jurisdiction – based on several U.S. Supreme Court decisions – includes "navigable" waters and waters with a significant hydrologic connection to navigable waters, the groups say.
The proposed rule would redefine "Waters of the United States" to include, among other water bodies, intermittent and ephemeral streams such as the kind farmers use for drainage and irrigation, the groups add. They say it also would encompass lands adjacent to such waters or that fall within an expansive definition of flood plain.
According to the group's analysis of the maps, coverage areas would more than double in most of the 17 states. Almost the entire state of Missouri – and, potentially, all the activities in it – they say, would be subject to EPA and Corps of Engineers authority.
Groups are concerned that the expanded authority could require farmers in affected areas to obtain CWA discharge permits for normal farming practices such as applying fertilizer, filling ditches and planting crops.
Among other concerns with the proposed rule, the groups said it was issued before EPA completed a study on the hydrologic connections between intermittent waters and wetlands and larger bodies of water.
Comments on the proposed rule close Oct. 21.
View the maps online. (Maps may take a few minutes to load.)
Source: National Pork Producers Council