The possibility of federal government regulation of ditches and farm ponds has corn growers raising concerns over new Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers guidelines for determining federal waters that are jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act.
While the current draft guidance maintains existing exemptions for normal farming and ranching activities, the National Corn Growers Association has said it is concerned that the new proposal could expand the EPA’s authority over isolated waters including ditches and farm ponds. “The announced guidelines have the potential to expand federal jurisdiction in a way that could lead to additional permitting requirements and make famers more vulnerable to citizen action lawsuits,” said NCGA President Bart Schott.
The NCGA and several other agriculture and environmental groups have requested that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers initiate a formal rulemaking process to ensure transparency and public participation. “Corn growers are dependent on clean water for our livelihood and for our homes, and we are committed to conservation practices that protect our nation’s streams and rivers,” said Schott. “Since the guidelines are still in draft form, we hope to have the opportunity to provide feedback to the Agency and the Corps about our concerns and find common solutions.”