WOTUS: A Scary Proposition

Please Comment On Proposed WOTUS Rule By October 20!

Arkansas congressman Rick Crawford recently noted that EPA’s new proposed rule under the Clean Water Act titled “Waters of the U.S.,” or WOTUS, is definitely cause for concern among rice farmers.

And after the USA Rice Federation attended a forum in Crowley, La., on July 9, at which the EPA Region 6 officials were present, the rice industry organization reported the following:
“Rice farmers testified that water leaves their fields cleaner than it arrived, with the rice fields acting as working wetlands which perform as filtration systems. EPA also heard about how WOTUS and the accompanying final Interpretive Rule threatens to alter the relationship between farmers, the NRCS, and the Corps. With EPA admitting there are several new definitions in the proposal for such things as ‘tributaries,’ ‘adjacent,’ and ‘significant nexus,’ they were asked tough questions about how they could redefine these terms to be more encompassing but say the rule was not expanding their jurisdiction. Rice producer John Owen opined to EPA that, ‘significant nexus is significantly nebulous.’” (As in unclear, vague, hazy and cloudy)!

It’s my understanding that “significant nexus” means that a waterway can’t be regulated unless it’s connected to another regulated waterway. But, as congressman Crawford pointed out, “Who will determine whether significant nexus exists?” He went on to say that there is “so much ambiguity associated with ‘significant nexus.’”

For example, can a rice farmer’s tailwater recovery system be regulated under WOTUS? Can a pond on your property that, following a large rain event, spills over into a ditch that runs into a regulated waterway now be regulated by EPA? Think about it….

The American Farm Bureau (AFBF) said the proposed rule would expand the EPA’s regulatory authority to puddles, ponds, ditches and places that are only wet under heavy rains. According to the AFBF, the EPA would have the power to dictate land-use decisions and farming practices and would make it more difficult to farm or change a farming operation to remain competitive and profitable.

After WOTUS discussions began to accelerate, AFBF created a “Ditch The Rule” campaign and website. www.ditchtherule.fb.org

This website discusses the proposed rule, answers questions and provides an opportunity for you to post a comment regarding the rule. The deadline for the comment period is Oct. 20, 2014.

Please take a few minutes to post YOUR comment to keep your rice farming operation viable and profitable.