New WOTUS Rule Provides Clarity for Landowners

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HELENA, Mont. (January 23, 2020) – After its repeal in September 2019, the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule is being replaced with the new, Navigable Waters Protection Rule. This new rule pulls back federal jurisdiction and provides much-needed clarity for landowners across the country.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association has long supported the repeal of the 2015 WOTUS and, with the support of other Montana organizations and Attorney General Tim Fox, led a group of 13 states to file a suit against the 2015 rule. In November of 2014, MSGA submitted comments to the EPA to request the agencies withdraw the rule and reconsider a revised rule that clearly respects the states’ rights and abilities to regulate land and those traditionally “non-navigable” waters.

MSGA has continued to work on this issue by working directly with the EPA NCBA and is excited to see the implementation of the Navigable Waters Protection Rule which eliminates federal overreach and takes a common-sense approach to implementation.

Most importantly, the Navigable Waters Protection Rule:

  • Removes ephemeral features from federal control
  • Provides regulatory exclusions for common agricultural features, such as stock ponds and irrigation ditches
  • Strengthens the exclusion for Prior Converted Cropland

The revised definition identifies four clear categories of waters that are federally regulated under the Clean Water Act:

  1. the territorial seas and traditional navigable waters, like the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River;
  2. perennial and intermittent tributaries;
  3. certain lakes, ponds, and impoundments;
  4. and wetlands that are adjacent to jurisdictional waters.

This final action also details what waters are not subject to federal control, including 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 gives states and tribes more flexibility in determining how best to manage their land and water resources while protecting the nation’s navigable waters as intended by Congress when it enacted the Clean Water Act.

Montana ranchers rely on clean water for their operations and are often at the front line of maintaining upstream water quality. This rule will allow MSGA to work directly with our state agencies to address any water quality issues that may arise.

Keni Reese
Manager of Communications, MSGA

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1 Comment

  1. Dave brask

    About time

    January 31, 2020

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