Nursery News: News

EPA finalizes replacement for WOTUS rule

Thursday, January 30, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Beth Farmer
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Trump administration has finalized the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaces the Obama administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. 

The new rule readjusts and narrows the scope of federal enforcement under the Clean Water Act. Agricultural groups have largely applauded the new version of the regulation.

The WOTUS rule, which OAN and most agricultural groups opposed, gave the EPA jurisdiction over nearly all waterways, including those that are intermittent. OAN Executive Director Jeff Stone lauded the new Navigable Waters Protection Rule as a more balanced replacement.

“Our growers and farmers have always practiced good stewardship on their private land to ensure that water is clean and safe for downstream users,” Stone said. “Federal overregulation was not helpful in promoting this kind of stewardship. We feel like the new rule promotes a better, more constructive balance of regulatory and voluntary efforts.”

The new rule will take effect 60 days after being entered in the Federal Register. It states that four categories of water are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act — territorial seas and traditional navigable waters; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

Of note to nursery operators, the rule specifies several types of waters that are NOT subject to federal control. These include artificial, private lakes or ponds constructed in upland areas, such as constructed nursery treatment ponds. Also excluded are ditches that aren’t navigable, aren’t tributaries or aren’t constructed in wetlands. Converted cropland, diffuse stormwater runoff and artificially irrigated areas that wouldn’t contain waterways if not irrigated also are not federally regulated under this new rule. » Read more