Earlier today, the Family Farm Alliance transmitted to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a Clean Water Act (CWA) white paper developed by the Alliance’s “WOTUS Subcommittee” over the past six months.
The white paper was prepared to provide context regarding CWA implications to Western agricultural water users and then raises considerations specific to the Family Farm Alliance for moving forward with the new “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS2) process proposed by the Administration. The paper also includes a reference list and an extensive list of secondary sources which demonstrate the level of engagement our organization has applied to CWA implementation issues for much of the past decade, working with other Western agriculture and water organizations and elected officials.
While the primary purpose of this paper is to provide specific recommendations to the agencies, it is also intended to educate our members and policy makers on the status of CWA jurisdiction and the unique nature of the regulatory challenges faced by Western agricultural water users, particularly when working in canals, ditches and drains. Requiring permits for activities in water conveyance facilities would increase the already significant regulatory workload with little or no improvements in water quality. In fact, if permits are required for such work, water conservation activities that are designed to improve water quantity and quality could be delayed or stopped, creating worse water quality conditions.
The Family Farm Alliance understands the meaning and purpose of the CWA and the agencies’ goal of protecting our nation’s water resources while providing clarity and certainty for the regulated community. WOTUS2 needs to create better certainty with brighter line tests to facilitate business and jobs. We believe any approach to protecting water quality in America must be accomplished through true partnerships at the local, regional and state levels, and that the federal government must provide more clarity and certainty in defining what waters are truly federal “waters of the U.S.” We also believe that the CWA provided certain exemptions for irrigated agriculture and farming that must be clarified, well defined, and provided for in a new WOTUS2 rulemaking.
We represent our membership of Western irrigated farmers and ranchers in saying that we stand ready to work with the Trump Administration, the EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and our local, regional and state governments in protecting water quality on a common sense, practical and collaborative basis for our future and the future of our nation’s water resources.
Click here to download a PDF version of the Clean Water Act white paper.