Farming and Ranching Under the New “Waters of the U.S.” Rule
On August 28, 2015, the new rule recently issued by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers defining “waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) will officially go into effect.
The rule expands federal Clean Water Act (CWA) jurisdiction over many landscape features found on private lands—including farm, ranch and forest lands across the nation. As a result, many essential and commonplace farming, ranching and forestry practices may now result in “discharges” of “pollutants” into WOTUS that require a CWA permit. Unauthorized discharges to WOTUS will be a violation of federal law, subject to large potential penalties in enforcement by the government or private citizens.
The American Farm Bureau Federation has created a document with information to help farmers and ranchers understand which features on their lands may be WOTUS, which activities may cause a violation of the law, and where to go for help.
(PDF document, 4 pages. If your computer has trouble opening PDF documents, download free Adobe Reader here: https://get.adobe.com/reader/)
The WOTUS document addresses these questions:
Why should I try to identify WOTUS on the land I farm?
What features on my lands may be WOTUS?
What types of farming or ranching activities may trigger CWA liability and permit requirements?
What are my options if I farm areas that I believe may include WOTUS?
Where can I get more information?