Oppose Expansion of Clean Water Act
There has long been a dispute brewing between the courts, federal regulators, environmental groups and industry regarding exactly what bodies of water fall under the purview of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The problem: the CWA gives the federal government authority to regulate “navigable waters of the United States” but does not define what the term means. The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have defined “navigable waters” to include adjacent wetlands and tributaries. Neither agency has developed clear and concise definitions of adjacent wetlands or tributaries, causing great confusion in the regulated world. This results in CWA authority being defined through arbitrary determinations by federal bureaucrats.
Depending on who is making the decision, the regulatory reach of the CWA has been interpreted to mean any physical connection or any potential connection where water, no matter how remote or infrequent, could eventually mix with navigable waters. Under that scenario, every sewer, curb, road, gutter, storm drain, tire rut and ditch could be required to meet the same water quality standards as rivers, lakes and reservoirs. This could potentially cost individuals and companies thousands of additional dollars complying with CWA provisions.