Backyard Puddles to be Regulated by Feds?

The American Farm Bureau is reporting, correctly, that if the Clean Water Restoration Act (Senator Russ Feingold’s S.787) becomes law, the federal government will claim the authority to regulate “all water” in the United States.

“S. 787 would remove any bounds from the scope of Clean Water Act jurisdiction, so that the regulatory reach of the act would extend to all water — anywhere from farm ponds, to storm water retention basins, to roadside ditches, to desert washes, to streets and gutters, even to a puddle of rainwater,” says a letter signed by the group.

Nearly two years ago, the groups’s president, Bob Stallman, explained in more detail:

Since its enactment in 1972, the Clean Water Act has regulated “navigable waters,” or waters of the U.S. The proposed legislation would delete the term “navigable” and replace it with “all intrastate waters” and add confusing language allowing the federal government to regulate “activities affecting these waters.” Although technical and hard to get your head around, these terms, if interchanged, would pose serious consequences for most landowners.

The legislation would grant — for the first time ever — the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers jurisdiction over all wet areas within a state, including groundwater, ditches, pipes, streets, municipal storm drains and gutters. It would grant these same agencies — for the first time ever — authority over all activities affecting those waters, regardless of whether the activity is occurring in water or adds a pollutant. With unfunded mandates, this slippery slope takes away power from state and local jurisdictions, shifting the control to the federal government for development and use of local land and water resources.

What does this mean for the typical residential landowner? Likely, a lot of hassle, expense and time spent in court. The legislation clearly states “all waters.” Those of you with farm, stock and even goldfish ponds – beware.

The legislation is scheduled to be voted upon in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on June 18.

The National Center for Public Policy Research has a Clean Water Restoration Act Information webpage here.

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The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.