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CCFB News» March 2020

WOTUS is Replaced

03/04/2020 @ 9:25 am

Waters of the United States (WOTUS) was a rule created by the President Obama administration that put much of the country’s “waters” under control of federal jurisdiction. Farm Bureau members have been fighting for a reasonable alternative since that time.

 

In January, USEPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have finalized the WOTUS replacement rule with the new and improved “Navigable Waters Protection Rule.”  The agencies provided more information and a pre-publication draft at the following link: https://bit.ly/2uRpIQW

 

The new Navigable Waters Protection Rule now moves to publication in the Federal Register, which will take a week or more. When that day comes, the effective date of the rule is 60 days after publication. During that window, we anticipate lawsuits to enjoin the law from taking effect.

 

The White House briefing on the new rule highlighted a few points that Farm Bureau staff believe are worthy of sharing at this early stage:

  • All maps in existence are now irrelevant
  • The new WOTUS definition presents a “unifying legal theory”.
  • This is a policy that lands on certainty, respects states’ rights to regulate water, and is the product of interagency collaboration to get to this point, as well as LISTENING to stakeholders for several years.
  • Four categories of waters are federally regulated:
    • Territorial seas and traditional navigable waters
    • Perennial and intermittent tributaries to those waters
    • Certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and
    • Wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters
  • Twelve exclusions to WOTUS, including:
    • Features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall
    • Prior converted cropland
    • Waste treatment systems; and
    • Farm and stock watering ponds
    • Many ditches, including most roadside and farm ditchesGroundwater

 

The agencies are looking forward to moving into the implementation phase of this rule.

 

As additional details are revealed, we will continue to share with members.

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