Draft Rule, Study May Expand Clean Water Act

Draft Rule, Study May Expand Clean Water Act

Federal Clean Water Act regulatory tentacles appear to again be expanding through a new rulemaking process and worrisome draft study.
In late September, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a joint proposed rule to “clarify” which streams, wetlands and other waters are “waters of the United States.” U.S. waters are subject to jurisdiction under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA).
The agencies sent the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget but did not release it to the public, the Association of California Water Agencies reported.
At the same time in support of the proposed rule, ACWA reports, EPA released a draft science report entitled “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Water: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence.”
Of importance to California and other Western water users is one particular focus of the draft study that concerns the influence of “ephemeral” and “intermittent” streams on downstream rivers, lakes, estuaries and oceans.
Overall the draft study reaches three initial conclusions, all of which imply that the agencies’ proposed rule is likely to expand the scope of CWA jurisdiction.
Public comment on the draft study is being accepted by the EPA until November 6. A public meeting will be held December 16-18 in Washington. Friant Water Authority plans on contributing comments in conjunction with the Family Farm Alliance, ACWA and others.

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