Making sense of U.S. EPA’s new water rule

Buckeye Farm News

Under the new rule, many farming practices may now result in “discharges” of pollutants into WOTUS, requiring a Clean Water Act permit. Because the WOTUS rule is so broad and complex, the only way to determine with confidence that water is not WOTUS is to request jurisdictional determination from the Army Corps of Engineers, which can be time consuming. Farm Bureau recommends landowners try to identify WOTUS on their lands instead of just trying to determine what is not WOTUS. 

These features are relatively easy to identify as WOTUS:

•Waters (including wetlands) that cross state lines (interstate waters) or that can be used for navigation.

•Rivers, streams and creeks that flow directly into any navigable or interstate waters.

•Impoundments of rivers, streams and creeks that flow directly into any navigable or interstate waters.

•Wetlands adjoining any of the above.

 

These features also are very likely WOTUS:

•Any other rivers, streams or creeks that flow to another water.

•Ephemeral drains (water that flows only after rain) that have a bed, banks and ordinary high water mark and that flow to another water.

•Erosional features if they have a bed, banks and ordinary high water mark and flow to another water.

•Ditches that were dug in or used to divert a river, stream, creek or ephemeral drain.

•Impoundments of any rivers, streams, creeks or ephemeral drains, including farm ponds.

•Wetlands, lakes, ponds, ephemerally ponded areas that are within 100 feet of any river, stream, creek, ephemeral drain, WOTUS ditch or impoundment.

•Wetlands, lakes, ponds and seasonably ponded areas at least partially within the first 1,500 feet of any interstate or navigable water or of a known 100-year floodplain of any river, stream, creek, ephemeral drain, WOTUS ditch or impoundment.

 

These features also may be WOTUS but only if the Corps or EPA finds a “significant nexus” to downstream waters:

•Any other wetlands, lakes, ponds or ephemerally ponded areas within 4,000 feet of any river, stream, creek, ephemeral drain, WOTUS ditch or impoundment.

•Any other wetlands, lakes, ponds or ephemerally ponded areas at least partially within the 100-year floodplain of any interstate or navigable waters.

Here is more information about WOTUS and a map of how it affects Ohio.

 

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.