WATERS OF THE US PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD

Lindsay Mitchell

Jun, 24, 2014  |  Today's News

The EPA extended its deadline for public comments concerning the notice of a proposed rule on the Waters of the U.S. issue.  The new deadline is October 20.

This particular rulemaking would increase the EPAs authority as to which waterways they are allowed to monitor and enforce regulations on.  In many cases, the waters they propose to regulate don’t exist – except after a very heavy rain once a year or less.

This increased authority is something farm organizations are watching very closely.  In particular, the Farm Bureau has taken a lead on this effort and hosted a webinar last week in which many IL Corn farmers and staff participated.

If you would like to learn more about this issue, you can watch the webinar here.

If you are interested in submitting your own comments by October 20, right now is probably the time, when you aren’t encumbered by the onset of harvest or other important matters on your farm.

Individual comments are much more valuable to the EPA than mass, repetitive comments that we might draft for you, so please consider writing your own comments that shadow the following pointers:

  • Introduce yourself.   How long have your farmed in your area?   If your know it, what is the closest traditional navigable water to your farm?   Write about your operation and your commitment to clean water.    Do you participate in voluntary conservation programs?  If so, discuss what you have done to protect water in your watershed.  Describe projects and your work with any state or local agencies.   Make the point that state and local officials are better position to regulate water.  
  • Explain the features on your land.  How does water drain off your land?  Do you have ponds, ditches, tilled fields or grassed waterways on your land?   If so, tell EPA you cannot imagine how any of these features can be considered navigable waters. EPA proposes to regulate most ditches, small and remote “waters” and ephemeral drains where water flows only when it rains.  Many of these areas are not even wet most of the time and look more like land than like “waters.”
  • React to the ridiculousness of considering water moving across your fields and in roadside ditches being regulated as waters of the U.S. 
  • Express your concerns about how your farm may be impacted if the EPA is allowed to claim jurisdiction over ditches and washes on your land. Clean Water Act jurisdiction could result in severe restrictions on your farming —or even prohibit farming activities in or near ditches, washes or isolated “wetlands”—no matter the cost or the practical impact on you, your family and your farm.  As a result of the proposed rule, farmers will face roadblocks to ordinary land-use activities - like fencing, spraying for weeds or insects, discing or even pulling weeds. The need to establish buffer zones around grassed waterways, ephemeral washes and farm ditches could make farmlands a maze of intersecting “no farm zones” that could make farming impractical.
  • In your words, tell them that you resent the proposed expansion of their regulatory authority.  You might add that the proposed regulations would be laughable, if they were not so serious and did not pose such a threat to how you farm and to U.S. agriculture.

The American Farm Bureau Federation has made it easy to submit comments on this issue via their online system.  Click here, scroll down, and fill in the blanks as you work your way through submitting comments. 

And then sit back and know you’ve made a difference in the future of your farm