YOUR TEXAS AGRICULTURE MINUTE
New water rule provides clarity, certainty
By Gary Joiner
A bad federal rule called Waters of the United States is now drying up. That’s good news. The federal government no longer can claim a small farm pond on private land is a navigable water.
The new Navigable Waters Protection Rule announced on January 23 is just what Texas farmers and ranchers need—clarity and certainty. Our nation’s navigable waters will remain well-protected, while farmers and ranchers will no longer be subjected to ambiguous guidelines. The 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule was less about clean water and more about land control.
All the other clean water regulations that protect our country are still included in the new rule. The Safe Drinking Water Act is still in place. Livestock regulations are still in place. The new rule has done nothing to change the protective nature of the regulations that we count on.
The new rule defines four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act. They include the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters, like the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River; perennial and intermittent tributaries; certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments; and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters.
Most importantly, the rule details what waters are not subject to federal control. These include features that only contain water in direct response to rainfall; groundwater; many ditches, including most farm and roadside ditches; prior converted cropland; farm and stock watering ponds; and waste treatment systems.
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule strikes the right balance between federal and state regulatory authority. Clean water, clear rules.
The preceding commentary is brought to you by Texas Farm Bureau, the “Voice of Texas Agriculture.” Called “Your Texas Agriculture Minute,” TFB will issue thought-provoking editorials each week—via print and audio—to spark understanding of agriculture in the Lone Star State and its impact on each and every Texan.
You may read this week’s editorial above or listen to the audio version.
Media outlets: This content may be used without further permission.