EPA's new Clean Water Act definition could impact local farmers - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

CENTRAL TEXAS

EPA's new Clean Water Act definition could impact local farmers and counties

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CENTRAL TEXAS - Local farmers are now fighting a battle with federal agencies over water sources on their land. The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are proposing a new definition of the clean water act for streams and wetlands.

The EPA says the rule definition doesn’t broaden their power. They say it just more clearly defines what's already protected.

Ditches along many farm to market roads are common, but they could soon be one of the reasons farmers and county offices are flooded with paperwork.

The rule could increase the number of ditches counties have to maintain and will mandate farmers apply for permits for bodies of water that could affect water quality.

Texas state farm bureau director and local farmer Neil Walter says this rule would negatively impact farmers and counties. 

“It’s just the tremendous time keeping and red tape to go through that,” says Walter. “We own our land, we take care of our land and no one takes care of a property better than the person that owns it."

But the EPA argues it's necessary because most seasonal rain-dependant streams, wetlands and creeks significantly impact lakes and rivers. One-in-three Americans gets their drinking water from public systems that rely on those streams.

Walter says the new rule is based on a study about the connectivity of stream and wetlands to downstream waters.

“The operative word here is connectivity. This mud puddle is connected to a ditch; ditch is connected to a ravine, ravine to a stream and stream to a navigable river. And so you can trace everything back to somewhere and it’s almost a ubiquitous rule that says every drop of water that falls can be controlled by the EPA,” says Walter.

The TFB along with other agencies like the national association of counties are fighting against the rule change in Washington D.C. Where a congressman has already written a budget amendment that would keep the EPA from spending any of its money to regulate non” navigable” waters of the U.S.

 The proposed rule is open to public comment for 90 days before it goes into effect.

“We, who make our living in the country, as farmers and stockmen, live and work with nature. We want clean air, we want clean water, of course we do,” says Walter. This is how we make our living, this is where we live and we have a very vested interest in to make sure that our environment is clean. We will do a good job lets work together. Help us be educated about what to do and how to do it but please a regulatory sledgehammer is not the way to do this.”


Click here to learn more about the EPA's proposed rule.

Click here to read the National Association of Counties response to proposed rule.
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