Since its origin, the Waters of the United States, commonly known as WOTUS, has been very controversial in the ag industry. This week NCGA submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers on the agencies’ proposed rule revising the definition of WOTUS. The comment period is now officially closed.
“Overall, NCGA supports the Proposed Rule,” NCGA President Lynn Chrisp wrote. Chrisp also highlighted NCGA and state affiliates’ work to balance environmental protection efforts while sustainably feeding and fueling a growing world, pointing to the benefits of the Soil Health Partnership and Field to Market as proactive efforts to help farmers fully utilize sustainability tools.
However, there were a few points that NCGA disagreed with in the current proposal. For example, “NCGA recommends that the final rule not include a WOTUS category for “ditches.” The Proposed Rule’s treatment of those ditches that are WOTUS are in fact only man-altered conditions that are located in or relocate tributaries or are in adjacent wetlands. We suggest that the Agencies amend the tributary and adjacent wetland categories to reflect that their status as WOTUS does not change when man-made ditches are installed in or relocate them, and that the ditches so-installed are themselves WOTUS.”
Also, “The Clean Water Act requires us to work across the land, but it does not require all features that hold or carry water to be made jurisdictional. The CWA does not cover all waters everywhere. If Congress intended the CWA to cover all waters, it could have clearly stated so. It did not. The Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that under the CWA there is a certain point beyond which waters cannot be subject to federal jurisdiction.”
To read the letter in full with the comments, click here to read.
NCGA also submitted comments on the revised WOTUS rule as part of the organization’s participation in the Agricultural Nutrients Policy Council and the Waters Advocacy Coalition.